BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
In mid-2015 Ford released the Australian designed and developed Everest SUV range. It was updated in mid-2018, mid-2019, in 2023 and early 2024.
Ford billed the 2023MY Everest as ‘all new’, but of course it wasn’t, having powertrains that were Ford carry-overs.
The 2023 Next-Generation Ranger/Everest project was led by Ford’s Product Development Centre in Australia and the updated wagon has been put through one of the most exhaustive global testing schedules Ford has developed.
We hoped that testing produced better results than last time, when the Everest was plagued by engine and transmission problems.
Speaking of the Everest powertrain, the 154kW/500Nm two-litre diesel that’s shared with the Ford Transit and Ranger remained for 2023, in twin-turbo guise and the old Land Rover, 184kW/600Nm three-litre V6 turbo-diesel replaced the Ford-Mazda 3.2-litre, five-cylinder diesel that was discontinued.
The V6 started life as a 2.7-litre Land Rover/Peugeot diesel that powered the 2004 Discovery 3. Later, when Ford owned Jaguar Land Rover, that engine powered the Ford Territory, before being enlarged to three-litre capacity for later Discoverys.
The Everest transmission for 2023MY was Ford’s upgraded 10-speed automatic.
The latest version of the Ranger platform had a wheelbase that was 50mm longer, because the front wheels were moved forward by that much, to improve the approach angle. Front and rear wheel tracks were also increased by 50mm, allowing for a larger engine bay.
There was claimed space in the engine bay for a second battery, to power aftermarket accessories.
The larger engine bay also provided more room for a hybrid electric powertrain, but there was no indication when that might arrive Down Under.
Customer input was key to developing the Ranger/Everest’s new look, Ford claimed. The company conducted more than 5000 interviews and dozens of customer workshops, to understand how customers used their vehicles.
For the first time, the Ford Everest has LED headlights and some versions got a variable-high-beam function.
Ford’s electronic shift-on-the-fly, part-time 4WD system was retained for most Ranger 2023MY models, but a full-time 4×4 system, with on-demand, two-speed electromechanical transfer case (EMTC), was standard on all Everests.
Everest’s dedicated off-road screen displayed vehicle information and, on Platinum variants fitted with a 360-degree camera, a view of the terrain ahead, with predictive overlay guidelines designed to help the driver negotiate obstacles.
At a press of a button, the driver could view driveline and diff-lock indicators, steering angle and guides, and vehicle roll and pitch angles.
The new Ford Everest had claimed water-wading ability of up to 800mm.
The Everest’s maximum trailer towing capability was 3500kg, when fitted with an optional factory Tow Pack, with integrated trailer brake controller. All variants received a trailer light check function and trailer connection checklist, as a well as a new Tow/Haul drive mode to improve gearshift response when towing.
FordPass app5 users could test the trailer lights via a smartphone.
Payload ratings varied from only 660 kg to 740kg, so towing vehicles that utilised the rated 350kg towball weight didn’t have much capacity for anything on board other than five adults and two kids, or their weight equivalent.
New, integrated roof rails supported static loads of up to 350kg and dynamic loads up to 100kg, allowing the Everest to carry bikes, canoes, a cargo pod or roof-top tent. A universal mounting system allowed customers to equip their vehicles with a range of accessories.
The 2023MY Everest had new or enhanced driver assist technologies and safety features, including a centre airbag positioned between the driver and front passenger. That brought the number of airbags up to nine, including front driver and passenger, dual seat side thorax airbags and dual side curtain airbags in all three rows.
The Platinum model was equipped with Active Park Assist that took care of steering, shifting, acceleration and braking, to navigate into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces with ease. It could also drive itself out of a parallel parking spot when prompted, Ford claimed.
Matrix LED headlamps – exclusive to Platinum models – had auto dynamic levelling and speed dependent lighting that could adjust the intensity of the beams. The headlamps also offered static and dynamic bending capability, and glare-free high-beams.
New was intelligent adaptive cruise control with lane centering and ‘Stop & Go’, to slow down the Everest if traffic ahead stopped or slowed. Other features included: evasive steer assist that provided steering support when maneuvering around a vehicle when the vehicle sensed a collision was imminent; reverse brake assist; blind spot monitoring vehicle and trailer; and pre-collision assist.
The Ambiente specification included: LED Reflector headlamps; DRLs; front fog lamps; LED tail lamps; black side steps; power fold mirrors; rain sensing wipers; manual tailgate; underbody protection; front tow hooks; 17-inch aluminium wheels; 17-inch steel spare; five seats standard (seven optional); manual seat adjustment; fabric seat trim; reach and height adjustable steering wheel; keyless entry/push button start; dual zone climate control; 10.1-inch touchscreen; eight-inch digital cluster; modem; wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto; wireless charging; eight-speaker audio; built-In navigation/traffic message channel/DAB; Sync 4A; embedded voice assistant; remote start via FordPass; Collision Mitigation (AEB, Reverse Brake Assis, Post Impact Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert); front and rear parking sensors; BLIS / Cross Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage; digital reverse camera; auto headlamps; engine stop/start; ABS, EBD, Roll Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and locking rear diff.
The Trend specification added: privacy glass on rear windows; power tailgate (not handsfree); mirrors with heaters and puddle lamps; 18-inch aluminium wheels and matching spare; seven leather accented seats; power-adjustable driver’s seat; leather wrapped steering wheel; 12-inch touchscreen; off-road screen and rotary dial (Sand, Mud, Ruts).
The Sport specification added: black exterior accents; hands-free power tailgate; 20-inch black aluminium wheels and matching spare; leather accented seats with ‘SPORT’ embossing; 10-way driver’s power seat with memory; eight-way power passenger seat; heated and cooled front seats and 10-speaker audio.
The Platinum specification added: satin chrome exterior accents; matrix LED headlamps with auto levelling; dual panel power panoramic roof; silver standoff roof rails; tyre pressure monitoring system; zone lighting; plastic or steel underbody protection; 18-inch or 21-inch aluminium wheels and matching spare; satin chrome interior accents; leather accented quilted seats; heated second row seats; power fold third-row seat; heated steering wheel; ambient lighting; 12.4-inch digital cluster; premium B&O audio with 12 speakers; 360-degree camera and Active Park Assist 2.0.
In May 2023 a limited-numbers Wildtrak edition was announced, at a recommended list price of $73,090.
The Everest Wildtrak has the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine, maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg, when fitted with the optional factory Tow Pack.
Along with unique front grille and bumper design, the bonnet, doors and rear tailgate are adorned with bold Wildtrak badging and Luxe Yellow body colour is available.
As standard, the seven-seat SUV is fitted with 20-inch Asphalt Matt Black machined-face alloy wheels with all-season tyres, while an 18-inch Bolder Grey alloy wheel and all-terrain tyre combination is available as a no-cost option.
Both offerings have tyre pressure monitoring as standard.
The interior is highlighted in ebony leather with Cyber Orange stitching. The driver’s seat is 10-way power-adjustable, with memory function and the front passenger has eight-way adjustability. Both front seats are heated and ventilated.
A panoramic roof is standard, along with 360-degree camera, exterior zone lighting and ambient interior lighting.
We didn’t conduct on and off-road testing in the MY2023 Everest, but we did do previous tow testing with the two-litre four and 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesels (see test findings below.) We tested the 2023 Ranger ute with V6 power, so the Everest performance is about the same. Check out our Ranger test in the Medium Utes section of this website.
With a manufacturer’s list price of $54,990 for the Everest Ambiente, $60,990 for the Trend and $76,990 for the Titanium at launch, the Everest range was 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 was released here it was 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 retained its separate chassis, coil strut independent front suspension and live rear axle. However the rear suspension used coil springs, with trailing arms and a Watts Linkage for lateral location.
The Everest had four-wheel disc brakes, compared with the ute’s disc/drum arrangement. We think that had to do with the definition of a ute in Thailand, where the Ranger and Everest are built. Leaf springs are important ingredients in the ‘ute formula’ in Thailand.
Powering the Everest SUV range was 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 was not required until 2017 the Everest complied with ADR 79 (Euro 6) emissons when launched. It came with an SCR emissions system that included an AdBlue urea tank. Ford reckoned the urea level needed topping up only at scheduled services.
The four-wheel drive system was an on-demand type, with an active transfer case that detected wheel speeds. Clutches controlled torque split front to rear. On top of that was a four-mode Terrain Management System, with settings for: Normal; Snow/Mud/Grass; Sand and Rock.
The Everest also had an electronically-locking rear differential.
Standard were 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 added Adaptive Cruise Control with forward alert collision mitigation and Lane Keeping System. It had 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 was optional.
The Titanium was the flagship model of the Everest SUV range at launch. Among the premium features on the post-2015 Everest Titanium were leather seat trim, panoramic power sunroof, parallel park assist and satellite navigation.
It ran on 20-inch wheels and had high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and chrome finish door handles, side mirrors and running boards.
The Everest was rated to tow 3000kg, which was a good thing, because, like most 4WD wagons, it weighed so much empty – around 2500kg – that it had only around 600kg payload: that’s accessories, people, water, fuel, camping gear, towball weight…everything.
Optional on Trend, and standard on Titanium, Ford’s new-generation 157kW/500Nm Bi-Turbo four-cylinder diesel was coupled to a10-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission.
The 3.2-litre, TDCi Duratorq with six-speed automatic powertrain continued on Everest Ambiente and Trend.
All models had revised suspension geometry, to improve ride and handling.
Cabin noise wasreduced by Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) on the Bi-Turbo Trend and Titanium.
Standard on Trend and Titanium was Pre-Collision Assist, using Inter-Urban Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection and Vehicle Detection, to bring the Everest to a complete stop.
Keyless entry and push-button start were standard across the MY2019 Everest range.
SYNC 3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility was made standard across the Everest range, including Bluetooth, an 8.0-inch full colour touchscreen and reversing camera. SYNC 3 enables use of Google Maps and Apple Maps, as well as standard in-built sat-nav. The mapping system also featured a ‘breadcrumb’ feature, allowing an unmarked off-road route to be mapped as it was traversed.
In addition, Everests received complimentary map updates for up to seven years when a scheduled service was completed at a participating dealer.
Every Everest delivered after May 1, 2018, received a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
In July 2019 Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection was made standard on every new Ford Everest, from the entry-level Ambiente five-seat RWD through to the flagship seven-seat Everest Titanium 4WD.
In November 2020 the limited-run Everest BaseCamp variant was based on the Everest Trend 4×4 3.2L and 2.0L Bi-Turbo models. Priced at an additional $2200, including fitment, represented $6000 of value Ford claimed: 76mm diameter black nudge bar; LED light bar; genuine snorkel; roof-mounted carry bars; pioneer platform; Sunseeker awning and genuine tow bar, rated at 3000kg (3.2L) and 3100kg (Bi-Turbo).
The styling included BaseCamp decals on both front doors, grey-painted grille, front and rear bumper skid plate and fender vents.
Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist was made optional on Everest in 2024. Pro Trailer Backup Assist operates in a similar way to the system that debuted locally in F-150 in 2023, allowing the driver to steer the trailer intuitively.
To activate the system, the driver presses the trailer icon on the drive mode selector dial and then uses the outer ring to steer the trailer. A special sticker placed on the draw bar helps the system keep track of the trailer angle when it’s being reversed.
As the driver turns the dial, the steering wheel, which the driver doesn’t need to touch during the manouevre, turns to direct the trailer where it needs to.
The system is part of the Touring Pack on 2024 Trend and Sport vehicles. On Platinum series, an optional Pro Towing Pack, including both Pro Trailer Backup Assist and the contents of the Towing Pack, replace the standard Towing Pack option.
A number of features that were previously optional extras are standard. The Everest Trend and Sport gain Zone Lighting as standard, along with Black Stand-Off Roof Rails.
Everest on test
We drove the 2015 launch model 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. For outback adventures we’d go for the Ambiente on 17-inch wheels and use an iPhone with Hema map app to replace the factory nav system.
Tow test of the two previous powertrains
In August 2019 we evaluated the two different powertrains (five-cylinder, single-turbo 3.2-litre plus six-speed auto and four-cylinder, twin-turbo two-litre plus 10-speed auto) towing a 1600kg Sherpa camper trailer and with 200kg payload in each vehicle.
We used the same road, same driver and same climatic conditions – Southern Highlands NSW winter – to compare apples with apples.
We did the test using a pair of Ford Ranger utes, but the powertrain assessments and economy results apply equally to the Everest.
It was immediately obvious that the multi-speed box behind the two-litre kept engine revs at a low level and with almost imperceptible shifts. Progress over our undulating test course was smooth and the combination had no problem maintaining legal maximum road speeds, even on grades.
The only downside we could discern was virtually no engine braking on descents, even with the transmission flicked down manually to the lower gears.
Economy worked out at a creditable 11.9L/100km on the fuel flow meter, so, allowing for speedo error of five percent we reckon real-world economy towing this weight was 12.5L/100km.
We’ve read reports that say the two-litre/10-speed combo shifts gears too much… really! That’s precisely what it’s supposed do, to keep engine revs optimised and as constant as possible. Heavy trucks have 12-18-speed automated transmissions for exactly the same reason.
The five-cylinder engine had grunt similar to the two-litre’s, but with only six ratios in the box had more rise and fall in engine revs. As a result, it used more fuel, averaging 13.1L/100km on the fuel flow meter, or 13.8L/100km in the real world.
Its larger displacement gave slightly more engine braking, but neither powerplant could match an old-fashioned 4.2-litre diesel’s downhill retardation.
A loss of engine braking power is common in all modern diesels that have small displacements, moderate compression ratios and high turbocharger boost.
Our conclusion was that the two-litre, twin-turbo with 10-speed box was a better towing powertrain, at least at the weight we evaluated.
Check out our Everest MY2015 test video: