First test drive: Ford Everest

  • FORD EVEREST
  • Price scale: $71,990 to $84,990
  • Powertrains: 2.0 liter biturbo diesel inline four-cylinder diesel with 154 kW/500 Nm, 10-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive; 3.0 liter biturbo V6 diesel with 184 kW/600 Nm, 10-speed automatic transmission, 4WD.
  • Body Style: SUV.
  • On sale: Now.

As sure as night follows day, a new Ford Everest SUV followed the new Ford Ranger ute. Not surprising, given how many bits they share, but this time around Ford has pulled out all the stops to make Everest a much more luxurious experience than your usual ladder-chassis SUV.

Make me an instant expert: what do I need to know?

Ford NZ eschewed the Ambiente entry model, with the Trend (pictured here) being our starting point.

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Ford NZ eschewed the Ambiente entry model, with the Trend (pictured here) being our starting point.

The Everest sits on the same heavily revised T6 platform as the Ranger. As such, it sees a 50mm stretch in track and wheelbase over the last model, while it also gets a new coil-sprung Watts linkage rear end in place of the Ranger’s leaf spring. .

READ MORE:
* First test drive: Ford Ranger
* Ford Everest to get Ranger’s new V6 turbo diesel
* Next-generation Ford Everest shows off its bold new face
* Ford unleashes the beast: 292kW Ranger Raptor unveiled

In addition to the front half of the underpinnings and bodywork (it has the same bold, boxy face as the Ranger, but with different bumpers), the Everest also shares the engines of the ute, with the engine four 2.0 liter biturbo diesel cylinders. carried over from the last generation models and a new 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel which replaces the previous 3.2-liter inline five-cylinder engine. Both engines will be mated to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission and an advanced full-time 4WD system that uses an electronically controlled two-speed electromechanical transfer case with selectable drive modes.

The Everest Sport takes on a more adventurous look, with blacked-out exterior trim and optional all-terrain tires.

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The Everest Sport takes on a more adventurous look, with blacked-out exterior trim and optional all-terrain tires.

Ford has launched the Everest in three guises here in New Zealand – Trend, Sport and Platinum – with the Trend packing the 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, while the range-topping Platinum and off-road-oriented Sport will only be available with the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel. We don’t get the base level Ambiente offered by Ford Australia, nor the 2WD versions – all Kiwi Everests are AWD. For now, at least.

Our entry-level Everest will be the Trend AWD, which costs $71,990 and comes standard with the 154kW/500Nm twin-turbo four, along with 18-inch alloy wheels, seven leather-trimmed seats, an 8-way power driver’s seat, satellite navigation, a 360-degree camera, a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, LED daytime running lights and taillights, wipers -rain-sensing windows, steel underbody protection, dual front tow hooks, wireless phone charging, keyless entry, differential lockable rear, power tailgate and a full suite of safety features including nine airbags, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, plus trailer towing assist.

The new Everest gets a more upscale interior dominated by the large infotainment touchscreen.

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The new Everest gets a more upscale interior dominated by the large infotainment touchscreen.

The $79,490 Sport adds the 184kW/600Nm V6 diesel, black exterior accents, 20-inch black alloy wheels, 10-way power driver’s seat and 8-way passenger seat, plus seats heated and cooled front. There’s also a no-cost option that adds 18-inch alloy wheels and off-road tires to the Sport.

The $84,990 Platinum tops the lineup, also packing the V6 and adding 21-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome exterior accents, matrix LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, larger digital 12 group, 4-inch, a 12-speaker premium B&O audio system, active park assist, tire pressure monitoring, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, heated steering wheel and interior mood lighting.

Where did you drive him?

The Everest is incredibly nimble on the road, with equally impressive ride quality.

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The Everest is incredibly nimble on the road, with equally impressive ride quality.

The Everest was launched alongside the Ranger Raptor, with a mix of on-road and off-road riding in Queensland. The on-road component took a circuitous route from Brisbane to the Sirromet Wines winery in Mount Cotton, where the off-road component took place.

The latest Everest stood out as one of the best ladder-frame SUVs on the road, with impressive handling and superb ride quality, and the new one has only gotten better. While you’ll still be aware it’s a big thing sitting on a ute platform, the ride quality is deeply impressive, with a well-sorted rear end and suspension that effortlessly soaks up imperfections.

Handling is also surprisingly precise, with responsive and precise steering adding to the experience. Too bad there weren’t more gravel roads on the course, as Everest felt particularly well sorted on loose surfaces at high speeds.

It's also deeply capable out of the sealed stuff, with multiple off-road driving modes and a locking rear differential being standard.

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It’s also deeply capable out of the sealed stuff, with multiple off-road driving modes and a locking rear differential being standard.

Steering responses and handling were seriously tested on a section of freeway where the car in front of us suddenly swerved to reveal a ladder that had fallen from a ute in the middle of the road, we forcing an impromptu ‘moose test’. (the infamous maneuver that has caused many SUVs to stumble at high altitudes) at 100 km/h. Thankfully, Everest handled flawlessly and was unfazed by the sudden change in direction at high speed, remaining completely calm the entire time. Unlike my passenger…

But as impressive as Everest is on the road, it is even more so off. Yes, even the Platinum on its 21-inch wheels and road-oriented tires.

Packing the same off-road driving modes as the Ranger, the Everest is only available with Ford’s new full-time AWD system, complete with a locking rear differential, which has seen it make quick work of the conditions of slushy snow on the off-road circuit, effortlessly traversing heavily rutted mud tracks and even an incredibly steep climb on a clay face. The descent was even easier thanks to the excellent descent system. It is, quite honestly, one of the best I have known.

What is the choice of the range?

Even the Platinum on its big 21-inch wheels and road tires was extremely capable in the mud.

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Even the Platinum on its big 21-inch wheels and road tires was extremely capable in the mud.

The Sport on the smaller wheels and optional all-terrain tires ticks all the boxes for me – it’s very well equipped, comfortable and refined, and looks particularly good with its large blacked-out grille, yet is extremely capable at the same time on and off the road.

Although I can see why you might want to go with the Platinum, which is a particularly luxurious package for a ute-based off-roader, and only costs $5,000 more than the Sport, with a lot more standard kit .

In fact, “lots of standard kits” apply across the range, and whichever model you’re considering comes with full amenities.

Of course, the Everest can also tow the 3,500 kg that the Ranger ute carries.

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Of course, the Everest can also tow the 3,500 kg that the Ranger ute carries.

Why would I buy it?

Because you need a large, comfortable and capable SUV for proper towing and/or off-road use. Although the Everest is a little more expensive than its obvious competitors, it offers considerable value in the extra cost with the high level of standard equipment in all variants, and that beefy V6 in the Sport and Platinum.

Why wouldn’t I buy it?

You can’t bring yourself to overtake a Toyota when it comes to 4x4s with a ladder chassis…

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