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Everest leads Ford’s SUV line-up

Mountain climbing: The Everest goes on sale in October, but Ford says it has received about 6000 enquiries for the Australian-developed SUV.

Ford takes on Toyota Prado with Aussie-developed Everest flagship

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Ford logo15 Jun 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

FORD’S Australian-developed Everest seven-seat SUV will stand above the locally built Territory as the Blue Oval’s flagship SUV when it arrives in showrooms in October, priced from $54,990 plus on-road costs.

According to Ford, the big Thai-built 4x4 wagon forms the “centrepiece” of the car-maker’s $2 billion investment into research and development in Australia over the past six years, which has resulted in significant development work for local engineers on cars for emerging and developed markets in the Ford world.

Ford Australia was the lead engineering and design centre for the Everest, which will be sold in a number of global Ford markets following the success of the T6 Ranger ute project – the vehicle upon which the Everest is based.

Since the company started promoting the Everest alongside the new-generation Mondeo mid-sizer and the forthcoming Mustang sportscar as a part of its ‘Guess who?’ marketing campaign last year, Ford says about 6000 people have expressed interest in the all-new SUV.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman praised the car-maker’s local engineering expertise, and highlighted the Everest’s technology and specification levels.

“The Everest SUV represents the very best of Ford’s Australian design and engineering capabilities,” he said. “Our customers have been waiting for this smart and highly capable SUV but what they didn’t expect was the level of technology, standard features and contemporary design.

“It is a hi-tech SUV built for adventure, with a perfect blend of strength and style.” Ford’s pricing places the Everest above the Toyota Prado, which in diesel guise starts from $51,990 for the base GX and tops out at $84,490 for the Kakadu.

The Australian subsidiary of the US auto giant is again targeting rival Toyota in its marketing, highlighting the features offered in the Everest that are not available in the equivalent Prado variant. This strategy has been used by Ford recently in promoting the Kuga over RAV4, the Mondeo over Camry and the Ranger over HiLux.

Sitting above the base variant – simply called Everest – is the mid-spec Trend starting at $60,990, while the flagship Titanium is priced from $76,990.

Offered with the same diesel four-wheel-drive automatic drivetrain across the range, the Everest will take on a variety of established players in the diesel off-roader segment. As well as Prado, these include Mitsubishi’s Pajero ($50,990-$65,990) and Challenger ($42,490-$49,990), the Holden Colorado 7 ($47,490-$50,990), Isuzu MU-X ($45,600-$54,000) and potentially the five-seat only Jeep Grand Cherokee ($54,500-$74,000).

Keen to appeal to buyers looking for genuine off-road ability, Ford has fitted the Everest standard with a four-mode ‘Terrain Management System’ which, according to the company, “delivers a balance of off-road capability with refined on-road driving characteristics”.

The modes include Normal, Snow/Mud/Grass, Sand and Rock which provide the best level of traction, depending on conditions. The system also features an electronic locking rear differential and torque-on-demand via an active transfer case that monitors wheel speeds with clutches that control the torque split from front to rear.

The Everest has a water wading depth of up to 800mm (the Pajero’s is 700mm), ground clearance of 225mm, approach angle of 29 degrees, ramp-over angle of 21 degrees and a 25-degree departure angle.

Also standard is Ford’s ‘Curve Control’ system which detects when the SUV goes into a corner too quickly and automatically applies four-wheel braking to reduce speed.

The Everest will be offered with just one powertrain in Australia: a 3.2-litre five-cylinder Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine, producing 143kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm from 1750-2500rpm. Under the bonnet of the Ranger, this engine pumps out 147kW/470Nm.

The only transmission option is a six-speed automatic driving all four wheels, with Ford Australia opting not to offer a six-speed manual or a 118kW/385Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that will be available in other markets.

Fuel consumption on the official combined cycle is 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres and 224 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

This economy figure matches the Toyota Prado when paired with the 127kW/410Nm 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and a five-speed automatic transmission, while the Everest’s 3000kg towing capacity outguns the Prado by 500kg.

Holden’s Colorado 7 uses a 147kW/500Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel, for a 9.2L/100km fuel figure and a 3000kg braked towing capacity, while the mechanically related Isuzu MU-X with its 130kW/380Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel offers 8.4L/100km and has a 3000kg towing capacity.

Mitsubishi’s ageing Challenger is powered by a 131kW/350Nm four-cylinder turbo-diesel, returning 9.8L/100km and able to tow up to 2500kg, while the Pajero uses a 147kW/441Nm oiler, consuming 9.0L/100km and pulling 3000kg with trailer brakes fitted.

Inside, the Everest has 30 storage compartments for a combined capacity of 48 litres, while the glovebox can stow a 16-inch laptop. Ford says the Everest can take up to 2010 litres in the cargo area with the second and third rows stowed, but it has not divulged the cargo capacity when all rows are in place. The third row has a 50/50 split-fold.

Ford’s ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ technology is included, which uses three microphones in the cabin to measure sounds. A so-called smart control module then generates opposing sound waves via the audio system to cancel out “unpleasant noises”, which according to Ford makes for easier communication between the first and third rows.

The base variant features Ford’s first-generation Sync voice control system, cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone and audio, iPod and USB integration, front foglights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Shelling out the extra $6000 for the Trend upgrades the connectivity system to Sync2 – the latest version of Ford’s global system – and adds an eight-inch touchscreen, 10-speaker sound system, DAB+ digital radio and Ford’s MyKey system, while other additions include dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, side steps, a power tailgate and a lift to 18-inch alloys.

Titanium spec adds a power folding function for the third row, satellite navigation (optional on Trend), a panoramic power sunroof, ambient interior lighting, eight-way powered and heated front seats and 19-inch alloy wheels.

In terms of safety, standard gear across the range includes a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill descent control, hill-hold assist, trailer sway control, seven airbags, electronic stability control, an electric locking rear differential and Ford’s ‘Emergency Assist’ function that calls emergency services to alert operators that the vehicle has been involved in a crash once the airbags have been deployed or the fuel cut-off switch activated, allowing hands-free communication.

Mid-spec Trend variants add adaptive cruise control with a collision warning, lane-keep assist, front parking sensors, auto high-beam controls, daytime running lights and rain-sensing wipers, while flagship Titanium grade includes Ford’s ‘Blind Spot Information System’ (BLIS) and cross-traffic alert, park assist and Xenon headlights.

In a bid to appeal to a more adventurous buyer, Ford is offering a range of accessory options for Everest, including a nudge bar or steel bullbar, snorkel, tow pack, front and rear skid-plates, weather shields, headlight guards and a tinted bonnet protector.

Eight colours are on offer, including True Red, Cool White, Sunset, Black Mica, Blue Reflex, Metropolitan Grey, Aluminium and Sparkling Gold.

2015 Ford Everest pricing*
Everest (a)$54,990
Everest Trend (a)$60,990
Everest Titanium (a)$76,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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