In recent years, LCVs (light commercial vehicles) like Ford’s Ranger, have been turned into SUVs. Everest is one such result.
I saw Ford demonstrate their Ranger at the last Sydney Motor Show and here are some pics from inside. Ford had cunningly set up a display by stacking shipping containers. With several together at angles and 45° ramps at each end, drivers took us up the ramp, along the top of the containers and down the other side. They stopped half way down, then reversed up again before completing the downward leg. While few of us will want to drive along shipping containers 007-style, some of us might fancy a steep slope or two.
The Titanium has a decent leather interior, and while I wouldn’t call it luxurious, it certainly feels comfortable and sturdy. The design is familiar to anyone who has been in a ranger. The exterior has a handsome chrome grille and broad bulging wheel arches with wheels that are off-road ready. I don’t know why car makers go to all the trouble to make wondrous mountain-conquering master pieces, only to saddle them with tyres that would be taxed by little more than an Eastern Suburbs gravel driveway.
The interior is the same as a Ranger with one or two little tweaks. The Sync III makes life a bit easier with voice control that actually works, even in Satnav mode. The Sync III infotainment system makes all functions available from the home screen which is split into 4 functions: climate, audio, phone and navigation, and has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Even more brilliantly, each is directly selectable from any of the other mode screens leaving an icon in each corner. From the home screen you can press any of 6 radio station buttons, and you can see some of your pone functions without having to faff about going between functions. That’s one of the few systems with such flexibility. The climate and audio functions are repeated in buttons below the LCD screen so it is perhaps a shame that there is no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Ford, Ford, Ford, what were you thinking? You lose marks for that sloppy faux pas, but because voice control is so helpful, it’s not a total loss.
There is a shedload of tech and here is a short sample: automated parking, blind spot and cross traffic detection, radar cruise control, active noise cancelling for the cabin, automatic high beam, electric 3rd row seats for freeloaders, Electric tailgate, and Ford’s excellent lane keeping assistant. If you drift out of your lane you feel a shimmy in the steering wheel. If you’re too thickheaded to do anything about it, the computer applies subtle torque to the steering to guide you back in if you let it. This only happens at speed, and if there is no indication used. It’s terribly clever stuff and makes your life much easier. Blind spot detection helps in a beast this big too. It will flash a thoughtful reminder light which will save more than a few motor cyclists. The Active noise canceling samples cabin noise and plays the opposite wave back through the audio system. I’ve seen this before and it can be a bit hit and miss. This one works well. It’s a shame you can’t turn it off just to see the difference because that would really make a good story. The active noise cancelling makes the cabin spookily quiet, though not as quiet as the superb Sahara.
The real surprise is the 5 cylinder 143kw/470Nm 3.2 turbo diesel which feels effortless at all speeds. It doesn’t hit in the back of the head with the punch of a lusty V8, rather it pushes you urgently forward with its mountainous of torque. Like most big diesels, it is excellent at cruise while getting impressive fuel economy. We took the Everest up the M1 to Newcastle, just for a lark. I thought it might feel awkward being so big but instead it felt free and eager. It was so comfortable that we both said we could have easily kept going. A few hundred k’s each way felt like a doddle.
The Watts-Link suspension made it supremely smooth. To help the driver further, the electric steering detects uneven or crowned roads or cross winds, and will then apply a little corrective torque to compensate. The stability control will detect rollover and intervenes so you don’t make a feckless tit of yourself.
It all works off-road too. There, hill start assist and decent control, plus a selection of pre-programmed off-road settings make driving feel like “you’ve got an expert onboard”. The torque will switch between driving wheels in “auto”, and will even put all torque just to the one wheel with grip if needed. You can choose to lock the diff with another button forcing full torque to both rear wheels even if one is off the ground. I hasten to add we did no off-roading in the Everest but have done it before in a Ranger.
It’s delicious. Everest drives like an SUV rather than a car, but all serious off-roaders do. Most of the SUVs on the road now, even the luxury ones, are nothing more than pumped up station wagons. They may have all-wheel-drive (AWD), but this is very far from pucker the mudding capability people think they’re getting. They don’t have hi and lo range or locking diffs and are often built on car platforms. They are simply not rugged enough to survive long in the wilds of the outback. Decades ago manufacturers realised most people don’t want to go bush bashing, and only a tiny percentage of owners do. Even fewer actually will take their pride and joy onto sand or into the ricks. Even proper four-wheel-drive (4WD) buyers probably won’t want to take a 300 grand Rangie where the Duco will be history before it gets into second gear. A second hand Lexus, Sahara, Range Rover or Infiniti make attractive propositions but for anyone wanting a new option, the Everest Titanium comes fully loaded.
If there is one fault, it might be the 6 speed auto where I’d hope for an 8 speed. Although the auto is smooth, the engine would be even more economical especially at cruising speed with those few extra cogs. I liked it a lot as did my co-driver who is an ex-army truck driver. Would I buy one? To my surprise, yes.
What I like: Sync III, lots of tech, great to drive
Model: Ford Everest Titanium
Model Price: $74,701
Engine: 3.2L Turbo Diesel
Drivetrain: 4WD 6-speed auto
Power: 143kW @ 3000rpm
Torque: 470Nm @ 1750rpm – 2500rpm
Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions: 224 g/km
Economy: 8.5 L/100km (ADR comb)
Tow Rating: Max 3000 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 100 kg
Servicing: 15,000 with loan car
Warranty: 3yr/ 100,000 km
Overall GCB Rating 83/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride and Handling 8.5
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 9
Off Road Ability 8.5
Value for Money 7.5