Car reviews - Ford - Everest - Trend RWD
Superb ride and steering for a pick-up-based wagon, big and comfy cabin, decent equipment in Trend specification
Room for improvement
All the compromises of a pick-up-derived chassis without off-road benefit, too expensive, noisy diesel, poor trim quality
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1 Dec 2016
A ROCKY hill-climb does not always need drive sent to all four wheels to be conquered – just ask any owner of the old jacked-up Ford Falcon RTV ute.
In a similar way the Everest Trend RWD delivers the ride height, long-travel suspension and hefty towing benefits of its AWD siblings, while saving buyers dough and reducing kerb weight by 98kg to the (slight) benefit of fuel consumption.
Not only that, but at $55,990 plus on-road costs, the Everest Trend RWD kicks off where the discontinued Territory Titanium RWD ended (at $52,740). As Ford Australia predicted, some cross-shopping between proper off-roader sans off-road ability, and old Falcon-based SUV could occur.
If buyers do not need traction sent to all 18-inch tyres, then they will be far more pleased with the Everest Trend RWD than the $1000-cheaper Everest Ambiente AWD.
At a time when Ford Australia is heavily spruiking the ability of its Sync3 infotainment system – with 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology – to bring benchmark infotainment to the masses, it is inconceivable that the company still restricts Ambiente buyers to a horrible dot-matrix audio screen.
Thankfully the Trend gets the above touchscreen and gear, in addition to a leather-wrapped steering wheel that helps bring the Ranger-based cabin up to par. Even compared with a Territory, the material choices and fit-and-finish of the Everest’s cabin are not befitting of a $55,000-plus vehicle.
Our test car had a poorly aligned glovebox surround, and previous test cars have had similar issues, indicating that the Thailand factory has some work to do to improve its standards.
The seats are comfortable all-round, including in the surprisingly accommodating third row, but the cloth trim again feels more Ambiente than Trend. At least rear passengers get air-conditioning controls and overhead air vents, in a move that is far more accommodating that the Territory.
On the road the Everest Trend RWD is lighter, but still no lightweight at 2.2 tonnes. Likely thanks to those bush-ready tyres the steering is fluffy on the centre position, but delightfully consistent and accurate either side of it.
Urban ride quality is surprisingly firm, but the suspension tune pays dividends on a country road where this Ford provides superbly stable and level road-holding across rough bitumen that would have a Toyota Prado wallowing around. The ‘head toss’ normally associated with such a towering pick-up-based wagon is non-existent.
Unfortunately, the same level of refinement does not bridge across to the Everest’s drivetrain. Ford Australia worked hard to make the Territory’s diesel V6 hushed in that application, and this time the engineers admit that the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel in Everest was difficult to smoothen out.
The result is a constantly loud, gravelly and nasally note reminiscent of a pick-up, not a family hauler – much less one for this price. Here, a Prado is vastly superior.
Through the seat of the pants the Everest Trend RWD feels perhaps a whisker stronger through the mid-range than its AWD sibling, but either way performance remains only adequate.
While throttle response is excellent, the six-speed automatic is far too eager to pick lower gears even on small inclines. When a peak 470Nm of torque comes in at 1750rpm, it arguably is not necessary and only further affects refinement.
A conundrum certainly more the size of a mountain than a molehill is left in front of this Ford. Engineers have performed staggering work turning a Ranger pick-up into a wagon that is actually enjoyable to drive, however regardless of the number of driven wheels the Everest remains too expensive given its low-rent cabin and lack of engine refinement.
Despite giving it the automotive equivalent of a vasectomy – cutting off its front driveshaft and limiting its off-road ability – the Trend RWD still must bring along the weight and dynamic compromises needed to create the AWD models that can actually go far off road.
What that means is a current Territory buyer will be massively disappointed by the way the Everest drives, but those who need to tow (up to three tonnes, no less) with seven bodies in tow should be rather delighted by a Ford that is more polished than any pick-up-based rival.
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