BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS MEDIUM
In mid-2015 Ford released the Australian designed and developed Everest SUV range that’s being manufactured in Thailand. It’s very good, but it’s not cheap! It was updated in mid-2018 and mid-2019.
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. 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.
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 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: