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Ford’s Everest to get terrain control

Hi Thai: The Ford Everest has been confirmed for Thai production alongside the related Ranger.

Aussie-engineered, Thai-built Ford Everest expected to offer dial-up AWD control


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26 Mar 2014

FORD’S Australian-engineered Everest SUV is set to get an intelligent one-touch multi-mode all-wheel-drive drivetrain that will cater for a variety of driving conditions, from icy roads to off-road going.

GoAuto understands the feature – called Terrain Management System – is being tested for up-market automatic transmission-equipped variants of the Everest which is still about a year away from release.

This testing, now on Gamma 2 prototypes, includes recent ice-road and heavy snow driving in Scandinavia, as well as extensive on- and off-road running in Australia where lightly camouflaged vehicles are now out and about.

The same system is also likely to appear on up-spec Ranger 4x4 utes, which are set for a major facelift around the same time as Everest is launched in 2015.

Ford again showed the Everest concept this week, this time at the Bangkok motor show in Thailand where the company confirmed the Everest will be built for global markets, most probably including Australia, at its Rayong plant outside Bangkok.

However, timing of the vehicle's launch remains hazy, with most pundits expecting the first half of 2015.

The Blue Oval company is keeping a lid on most of the details of the rugged seven-seat SUV, which is based on the Ranger’s ladder-chassis platform but with a greater level of sophistication.

An Everest test ‘mule’ seen by GoAuto in Australia has a selection dial for the multi-mode AWD system that allows drivers to pre-select powertrain settings for normal, snow, sand and off-road mud/ruts driving.

The system has already been applied to the latest Ford Explorer, the development of which was headed up by Ford engineer Todd Hoevener before he transferred to Australia for the Everest project.

The Ford terrain control system is similar to – if a little less sophisticated than – Land Rover’s Terrain Response system used in most of the British brand’s products, including Range Rover and Discovery.

Jeep also offers a similar system, called Select-Terrain, on most of the vehicles in its range.

The Ford system is believed to have been derived from the Land Rover set-up, possibly dating from the era when Land Rover was owned by Ford.

Both systems meld a number of driving control systems, including traction control, ESC, hill descent control, hill start assist, stability control and ABS.

However, if the Explorer version is any guide to a future Everest system, the smaller vehicle will lack the hard-core ‘rock crawl’ mode available on Land Rovers.

The Everest has been both designed and engineered by Ford Australia in Victoria to go head to head with Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado which Ford sees as the Everest’s key competitor in Australia.

The vehicle will be built in Thailand, where Ford yesterday wheeled out the same Everest concept that was shown for the first time anywhere in Sydney last year.

The company confirmed that the SUV will go into production alongside the Ranger ute at its Rayong plant outside Bangkok.

Unveiling the concept at the annual Bangkok auto expo, Ford’s ASEAN president, Matt Bradley, said the Everest would extend Ford’s “unsurpassed heritage of creating class-defining SUVs”.

As GoAuto has previously reported, the Everest will ditch the leaf springs of the Ranger in favour of coil springs on the live axle which will be secured by trailing arms and Watts links.

A self-leveling rear suspension system is also possible, having been tested on one mule seen by GoAuto.

So far, test vehicles seen by GoAuto have all been powered by diesel engines – most likely the TDCI unit from Ranger – but other powertrains can be expected.

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