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Driven: Ford refines Everest large SUV

Customer feedback drives changes to more road-friendly Ford Everest SUV

23 Aug 2018

FORD Australia says customer feedback has played a large role in the changes made to its updated Everest large SUV, with a particular focus on making the ladder-frame off-roader more comfortable and easy to drive.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the refreshed model, Ford global program manager for Everest Dan Ciccocioppo said the updates aimed to improve the vehicle’s refinement and noise levels.
“Really what we’ve focused on has been around the ride and plushness and the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) side of it, to make it more appealing with more car-like attributes, so really that’s where the focus has been,” he said.
The Everest, which is mechanically related to the Ranger pick-up, plays in the same segment as more comfort-oriented offerings such as the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorento, and the changes have been made to close the gap on its rivals in terms of on-road refinement.
Ford’s engineers have redesigned the Everest’s stabiliser bars for added stiffness, which has in turn allowed the spring rates to be lowered, resulting in greater roll control, and a softer and plusher ride quality.
NVH improvements have also resulted in a 4dB improvement in noise insulation thanks to noise-cancelling technology and the fitment of acoustic windscreens.
Mr Ciccocioppo said that the changes were “definitely” a result of customer feedback.
“Everest has only been in the market for three years, and we’ve been constantly getting customer feedback during that time and trying to bring in changes as we get that.
“This model update is really more about significant changes based on all of that feedback.”
Aside from the refinement improvements, the biggest change to the new Everest has been the introduction of the 2.0-litre twin-turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine borrowed from the updated Ranger, which is mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission.
Ford says the new engine, which outputs 157kW/500Nm, improves fuel economy over the existing 3.2-litre five-pot oil-burner by 17 per cent, and results in a lower cost of ownership over time. It also adds 100kg to the car’s braked towing capacity, up to 3100kg.
The range is split between the two mills, with the entry-level Ambiente coming with the 143kW/470Nm five-cylinder engine, while the mid-spec Trend offers a mix of the two, and the range-topping Titanium comes with the bi-turbo engine only.
Ford Australia Everest product marketing manager Karen Larkin said that so far the Trend has been by far the most popular variant, and she expected that theme to continue with the updated version.
Changes to specification include making Sync3 with satellite navigation standard across the range, while the Ambiente entry-level variant also gains halogen headlamps with manual levelling and daytime running lights (DRLs), folding side mirrors, smart keyless entry, a laminated acoustic windscreen, push-button start, new gear shifter, and darker interior finishes.
New to the Trend is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), traffic sign assist, HID headlamps with auto-levelling, LED DRLs, power tailgate, leather-accented seat trim, eight-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar adjustment and a leather-trimmed gear shifter.
Ford said it plans to add AEB to the Ambiente next year, as well as lane-keep and traffic-sign assist.
Along with the new engine, the Titanium now comes with 20-inch alloys, leather-trimmed handbrake and a tow bar as standard.
Different versions are offered with either five-or seven-seat layouts, while buyers can also choose between rear- or all-wheel drivelines. While the Ranger is offered with a part-time four-wheel-drive system, the Everest is different in that it employs a full-time on-road all-wheel-drive set-up.
As previously reported, pricing has been updated slightly with the point of entry increasing by $1200 to $49,190 plus on-roads for the rear-drive, five-seat Ambiente, which is offered with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and five or seven seats. Optioning seven seats adds $1000 to the price, while the 4WD drivetrain demands a $5000 premium.
Three Trend versions are available, starting with the $56,190 rear-drive bi-turbo, up to the 4WD 3.2-litre at $59,990 and the 4WD bi-turbo from $61,190. All Trends come only with the seven-seat option.
The sole Titanium variant adds a sizeable $12,800 premium over the most expensive Trend at $73,990, and comes with seven seats, four-wheel drive and the bi-turbo engine.
Styling has been slightly tweaked for the update, with a new grille and front fascia keeping the Everest fresh.
Ford Australia has enjoyed a successful 2018 for Everest sales, moving 3135 units to the end of June which represents a 21.7 per cent increase over the 2576 it recorded over the same period last year.
It sits third for ute-based SUV sales behind the Isuzu MU-X (5113) and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (3827), but still comfortably trails the segment leaders like the Toyota Prado (10,702) and Kluger (8808) and Subaru Outback (6543).

2018 Ford Everest pricing*

Ambiente RWD 3.2L (a) $49,190
Ambiente RWD 3.2L (a) $50,190
Ambiente 4WD 3.2L (a) $54,190
Ambiente 4WD 3.2L (a) $55,190
Trend RWD Bi-Turbo (a) $56,190
Trend 4WD 3.2L (a) $59,990
Trend 4WD Bi-Turbo (a) $61,190
Titanium 4WD Bi-Turbo (a) $73,990

*Excludes on-road costs

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