The Large 7-seat SUV segment has grown in popularity at a rapid rate over the last couple of years and Ford’s contender in this competitive arena is the Everest.
The Ford Everest has been adapted from the rugged and hugely popular Ford Ranger platform but in this SUV format, the rear suspension, off-road setup and powertrain tune are unique to the Everest and the changes are apparent. While the Everest isn’t exactly the smallest thing on four wheels, it’s great visibility and excellent electric-assisted (EPAS) steering manages to hide its larger dimensions ensuring confidence while driving.
On the road, it rides incredibly well for something that can tackle a mountain range. The engine across the Everest range is a 3.2 litre, 5-cylinder turbo diesel, putting out 143kW and mighty 470Nm of torque. This engine is responsive and sounds more muscular than others in this class. The 6-speed auto gearbox is smooth and always in the right gear. While it’s an efficient package with a claimed 8.5L/100km, it’s also qualified to take part in almost any towing job with a braked towing capacity of 3 tonne.
On a long freeway trip the Everest again shines. The ride is smooth and avoids that initial hard impact of road joins unlike other more serious SUV's that are plagued with boat like characteristics of a hard impact. The 470Nm of torque means overtaking is a breeze and the Everest features radar guided active cruise control which allows it to keep a consistent distance from cars in front.
Once off the freeway and onto winding, bumpy and rutted country back roads you realise just how good the Everest’s steering is. It’s a touch light but it’s by far the most “car-like” of any of the SUV’s in this class. The Everest is quiet too and this is due to Ford’s noise cancellation technology. It works in the same way that sound-deadening headphones work and reduces road, tyre and engine noise immensely.
From a practicality point, the Everest keeps ticking all the boxes. Starting from opening the back with a powered and key-fob controlled tail-gate, the rear cargo area is vast. Our trend variant was a 7-seater but with the far rear seats down, the Everest boasts over 1000 litres of rear cargo space. What's even more impressive is that with the regular back seats folded forward, the space expands to a truly huge 2010 litres. These rear seats recline and slide forward and back and there’s plenty of toe, leg and head room. Rear seat passengers can also control their own climate with the rear occupant air conditioning controls.
Charging a lap-top or boiling the kettle are possible with 150-watt 230-volt power point. Once your cup of tea is ready, there are 10 cup holders available to contain your delicious cuppa.
Up front, the seats are comfortable and have just the right amount of support and all the controls are well set out and easy to use. There are plenty of features too with dual-zone climate control and a 10 speaker hi-fi with sub-woofer operated by Ford’s excellent Sync 3 infotainment system featuring an 8-inch touchscreen and voice command.
When it comes to driving on unsurfaced and more aggressive dirt tracks, the Everest soaks up the challenge with the same ease that it mastered on the freeway. Much of the Everest’s development work was undertaken by Ford Australia’s research, engineering and design teams and it’s a huge credit to them. Even on the roughest of “roads”, the Everest’s steering, ride and handling remain composed and the Everest just inspires confidence.
With the ability to lock the rear diff, select hill-descent and engage the low range transfer case with the push of a button, as well as using Ford’s TMS (terrain management system) to switch between normal, grass/gravel/snow, sand and rock modes, the Everest’s serious off-roading ability allows it to venture to even some of the most remote locations. We were fortunate to test all the TMS modes, constantly pushing the Everest’s off-road ability, and it’s safe to say my off-road driving ability ran out well before the Everest’s. Impressive is an understatement.
Ford offer a 3 year 100,000km warranty with lifetime capped-price servicing with annual/15,000km intervals, and the option of a free loan car from you Ford dealer when your Everest is being serviced. If you’re after an SUV that will handle kids, school runs and moving house as easily as it can scale a mountain, cross a river or conquer uncharted lands, the Everest is the SUV you need to climb into.
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