| BUYERS GUIDE
The Everest wagon is based on the Ranger ute platform.
Ford has released the Australian designed and developed Everest SUV range that's being manufactured in Thailand. It's very good, but it's not cheap!
With a manufacturer’s list price of $54,990 for the Everest Ambiente, $60,990 for the Trend and $76,990 for the Titanium, the Everest range is not aimed at the bargain-basement wagon market.
It's hard to accept that the Everest is made in Thailand, supposedly to keep its price competitive; yet when it's released here it's more expensive than the locally produced Territory that was phased out of production.
Don't seek truth from vehicle makers!
Being based on the successful Ranger ute the Everest retains its separate chassis, coil strut independent front suspension and live rear axle. However the rear suspension uses coil springs, with trailing arms and a Watts Linkage for lateral location.
The Everest has four-wheel disc brakes, compared with the ute's disc/drum arrangement. We think that has to do with the definition of a ute in Thailand, where the Ranger and Everest are built. Leaf springs are also part of the 'ute formula' in Thailand.
Powering the Everest SUV range is the Ranger ute’s 3.2-litre TDCi engine, delivering 143kW and 470Nm and with a claimed combined fuel efficiency figure of 8.5 litres/100km. (Our testing showed that fuel claim is highly optimistic.)
Although it's not required until 2017 the Everest already complies with ADR 79 (Euro 6) emissons and comes with an SCR emissions system that includes an AdBlue urea tank. Ford reckons the urea level will need topping up only at scheduled services.
The four-wheel drive system is an on-demand type, with an active transfer case that detects wheel speeds. Clutches control torque split front to rear. On top of that is a four-mode Terrain Management System, with settings for: Normal; Snow/Mud/Grass; Sand and Rock.
The Everest also has an electronically-locking rear differential.
Standard are audio controls on steering wheel, four 12V and one 230V power sockets, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist, Roll Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control systems.
The Everest Trend adds Adaptive Cruise Control with forward alert collision mitigation and Lane Keeping System. It has 18-inch wheels, instead of the base model’s 17-inchers, halogen projector headlamps, auto high beam, running boards and rear power lift-gate.
A voice-activated or manual input satellite navigation system is optional.
The Titanium is the flagship model of the Everest SUV range. Among the premium features on the Everest Titanium are leather seat trim, panoramic power sunroof, parallel park assist and satellite navigation.
It runs on 20-inch wheels and has high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and chrome finish door handles, side mirrors and running boards.
The Everest is rated to tow 3000kg, which is a good thing, because, like most 4WD wagons, it weighs so much empty - around 2500kg - that it has only around 600kg payload: that's accessories, people, water, fuel, camping gear, towball weight...everything.
Everest on test
We drove the Everest Trend lightly loaded and three-quarters loaded and were impressed with its performance, ride quality and sure-footed handling on bitumen and gravel roads.
Not so impressive was the overall economy that worked out at 9.9L/100km, compared with the four-cylinder diesel competition that averages under 9L/100km on the same test route.
We'll get the other gripes out of the way first: the switch, wand and instrument layout is non-intuitive and hard to discern; especially when you're wearing sunglasses. For example, Ford decided years ago that its auto gear shift would go forward for a downshift and backwards for an upshift.
Fine if you like being different for its own sake.
So maybe that's why the music track selector on the steering wheel works the same 'backwards' way. But then why is the audio volume switch that's right next to it the other way around? The cruise control speed switch is also 'wrong' in Ford's book.
Voice commands get over some of the difficultites, but not all. You'd get used to it, but the learning experience can lead to an accident, if you're not careful.
On the plus side, the Trend had a normal key that worked a normal ignition switch, not a starter button and one of those horrible 'smart' keys that are about as smart as George Bush.
At cruising speeds the cabin was very quiet, so Ford's anti-noise system may have been working. However, it was noisier under acceleration.
Passengers liked the outer second row seats, but the centre one was judged too firm. Our test twins loved the third row and all three rows had ample legroom.
Converting the third row was a doddle, but the floor wasn't dead flat and had gaps 'n' flaps.
There's plenty of electrical power available, from twin USBs and 12-volt outlets up front to twin 12-volt sockets amidships and one more in the cargo area.
Off-road the on-demand 4WD system behaved faultlessly, with none of the 'lag' that earlier types had. The shift into low range was immediate and it disengaged quickly as well. Traction control was not intrusive enough to affect forward momentum in rocky terrain.
The big surprise was hill descent control: one of the very few systems to control downhill speed to walking pace - very impressive.
Most is well in the engine bay, other than there's not much space for a second battery and the air intake scoop faces forward. A battery in the cargo area will power a fridge overnight and a snorkel is essential for those attempting creek crossings. Ford claims 800mm wading ability, but we wouldn't attempt that without a snorkel.
The Everest is a good wagon and it needs to be in this price bracket. We'd go for the Ambiente on 17-inch wheels and use an iPhone and Hema map app to replace the factory nav system. The more expensive models' adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are also no great loss.
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