Ford, still built tough.
The Ford Everest, the ladder-frame SUV based on the mighty Ranger ute, made its local debut in late 2016, to much aplomb. The Everest had grown more refined, more upmarket, and more capable than the first car to bear the nameplate back in 2003. It had also grown a lot more handsome, and sought to shrug off the utilitarian, agricultural flavour of previous iterations.
The Everest’s sharper new suit certainly did its job, dispelling any and all assumptions that it’s no more than a ute with a fatter body. It still retained practical traits (like an additional row of seats) that we like so much, while improving on aspects that its forebears fell short in. And above all else, it’s still as tough as nails.
We put the Everest under the microscope, to see what’s what.
“Ford has done an excellent job of distancing the Everest from the Ranger working ute it's based on. Some of its rivals look like utes with a roof tacked on but the Everest looks as if it was built from the beginning as a wagon.” - CarsGuide
The Everest has done its best to look like a distinctly different product from the Ranger, and while there are recognisable elements, the Everest looks decidedly less utilitarian, and far more upmarket. It’s a gorgeous thing, injecting a little machismo into a segment that has gone all swoop and curvy (we’re looking at you, Mazda CX-9).
The Everest gains sharp projector headlights with LED daytime running lights (on all but the base model), LED tail lights, gorgeous alloy wheels (higher spec models get bigger units which are even prettier), and a muscular body that makes it instantly recognisable. Regardless of which trim you go for, the Everest is a handsome vehicle, that only gets better the higher up the range you go.
Engine & Drivetrain
“The Everest is only available with one engine, a 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo diesel. In the government combined-cycle fuel test it uses 8.5 litres/100km.” - Which Car
One engine, and one gearbox. The Everest is propelled by the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel that we first saw in the Ranger ute (we’re trying not to mention it too often, really), which produces a respectable 143kW and 470Nm of torque. While not stratospheric in terms of numbers, it’s perfectly adequate for all but the most demanding uses. As an SUV, it does boas a higher towing capacity than most of its rivals; 3000kg, to be exact.
The gearbox is a six-speed automatic, which manages to be smooth and dependable throughout all operations. All-wheel drive models gain a full-time all-wheel drive system, with low-speed gearing, and road-condition settings (like auto, sand, mud, or rocks).
“Inside, there's evidence that the Everest starts life as a considerably cheaper workhorse. There are plenty of hard plastic surfaces on the door trims and centre console, although the fake stitched leather finish on the dash lifts the tone a little, as does the soft blue ambient lighting that fills the cabin at night.” - CarsGuide
While the Everest tries its best to push upmarket, the interior shows its game up a little. There are hard, scratchy plastics dotted around the cabin, and if you squint, you might feel like you’re in a (certain) ute. The SYNC3 infotainment system, which is now standard across the board, does help lift the cabin a little, making it feel a bit more high tech and upmarket.
Strangely, the Everest does not offer keyless go, which is very rare in this price category. And the leather trim that comes on higher-up models feels a little bit too rough to be luxurious, like it came off a cow that used to smoke. Thankfully, practicality is well catered for, with plenty of space across all three rows. Even the rearmost seats are commodious enough to accommodate adults, although only for short journeys.
Behind the Wheel
“Unlike the Territory, the Ford Everest is a proper offroader. It offers 800mm of wading depth and a full-time four-wheel drive system with a selectable active transfer case and locking rear differential.” - The Motor Report
No matter what the terrain, the Everest has you covered. There are four selectable drive modes on the all-wheel drive models: Normal, Snow/Mud/Grass, Sand, and Rock. There’s also a locking rear differential, and low-range gearing. This is a family wagon that can take you very far off the beaten track, and while it may not have the same go-anywhere heritage as a Toyota Prado, it’s still an immensely capable machine.
If all-wheel drive and off-road capability aren’t a priority, the Everest is available in Trend spec with rear wheel drive, which saves on weight and on price. Regardless, the Everest is a neat-handling car (for its segment), that offers a decent ride that’ll make minced meat of long motorway journeys. The 3.2-litre turbodiesel, while not the most refined unit in the world, settles down at cruising speeds, though it can be a little intrusive at town speeds. Bigger wheels will attract more attention, as well as increased tyre noise and a firmer ride, so best think over whether you really want to live with them.
Safety & Technology
“All Everests rate as Excellent on the WhichCar safety scale.” - WhichCar
The Ford Everest does pretty well in terms of safety, with plenty of standard kit. There are seven airbags (the curtain airbags stretch all the way past the third row of seats), electronic stability control, and a reversing camera. Mid-spec Trend models gain frontal crash mitigation and lane-departure assistance, while opting for the top-spec Titanium trim will add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to the mix.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) gave the Everest five-stars, its maximum rating, making this a very accomplished family wagon.
In 2001 when the Ford Everest first came about, it was regarded as a middling offering among its ladder-framed brethren, being no more remarkable than a weed in a patch of grass. It’s gotten better and better over the years though, always adhering to the ‘Built Tough’ standards that the Blue Oval holds its off-roaders to. However, it lacked the magic handling characteristics that modern Fords enjoy, and while this iteration of the Everest is by no means the segment best, it’s creeping a little closer. If anything, the Everest is a great display of the marques’ intentions for the nameplate, and shows us how much promise the Everests of the future hold.
The best Everest of today, by our reckoning, is the RWD Trend model. At a hair under $56,000 (accurate at the time of writing, excluding ORC), it offers all of the capability and practicality most would want out of a big seven-seater SUV, with enough grip and ground clearance to tackle the daily commute. If you need more off-road capability out of your big SUV, then the AWD Trend offers the best blend of capability and practicality in the range.
CarAdvice - 80/100 - “All told then, the Ford Everest is an impressive package. It’s spec levels are not as good as they should be considering the price point, but at least the way it performs feels worth its weight in gold. It’s an incredibly important car for the Blue Oval, and in many ways it’s been worth the wait. Better than the Fortuner? Stay posted…”
Which Car - 80/100 - “The Ford Everest 4WD is a seven-seat wagon with an excellent diesel engine, full-time four-wheel drive, and dual-range gearing. Based on the Ranger ute, it is the first such vehicle to be designed and developed in Australia. Ford has done a good job of hiding the ute DNA: the Everest is comfortable on good roads but still very capable off road. A rear-wheel-drive only version is also available.”
CarsGuide - 80/100 - “The Ford Everest does well, partly thanks a lot to the input of Australians. Because of this it is a sizeable threat to rivals in the pickup-based SUV market which have not had the advantage of local knowledge. Standard sat nav is a sad omission.”
Practical Motoring - 70/100 - “Many thought a two-wheel-drive version of the Everest would be plugged as a replacement for the Territory. It’s not. Despite the lack of four-wheel-drive, this new Everest variant remains in every other way an off-road vehicle in terms of its construction and the way it drives. But even if it doesn’t ride like an urban-based SUV, it can sure lift heavy things. And tow them, of course.”
Wheels Mag - 80/100 - “It looks and smells like a regular Everest, but the rear-drive Trend is all about towing, long distance touring and ferrying families rather than venturing too far off-road.”
The Motor Report - 70/100 - “It's unlike any of the other ute-based seven-seaters that are currently on the market, and the premium the Everest carries over those cars is somewhat balanced by its superior refinement. Simply put, it's less obvious that this car shares its bones with a commercial utility.”
Motoring - 79/100 - "It’s a vehicle built for big adventures – it wants to tow things and see the world. If you’re one of those families that lives for long weekends, or you are retirees about to tackle the great Aussie road trip, then the Everest is the perfect car for you. If, however, you’re more like our family where 80 per cent of the time the driver is the only person in the car, then the Everest may be too much car for you.”
CarsGuide - 70/100 - “There's no doubt the Everest is a quality offering and a worthy rival for the Toyota Prado, which has had the family offroader market cornered for some time. It has offroad smarts, impressive towing capacity, more hi-tech safety gear than the competition and good road manners. The only real question mark is the value. It's big money to ask for what is essentially a ute-based wagon.”