“Engineered for Extraordinary.” That’s the tagline Ford have entrusted to its all-new Everest but is it deserving of such a hyperbolic statement? Let’s find out.
The third-generation Ford Everest is a result of a four-year development program that began in 2011, led by Ford’s Asia Pacific design and engineering units based in Melbourne. It may utilise the T6 platform that underpins the all-new Ranger but beyond that, the Everest is a completely ground-up development.
So why not just consider a monocoque construction as opposed to a body-on-frame one? This is in part due to surveys which the Blue Oval conducted, where customers defined ruggedness and comfort as their demands for the new car.
This meant that Ford had to perform a myriad of modifications to the chassis and powertrain derived from the Ranger to be adapted for the Everest, so much so that the end product shares very little with its commercial vehicle sibling.
Just how deep to these changes go? Well, I can tell you that it certainly is way beyond skin deep despite the looks, so let’s jump right into it.
2.2L Titanium 4x2
- Engine: 2.2-litre Duratorq four-cylinder TDCi diesel engine
- Transmission: 6R80 Six-speed torque converter automatic with Sports Shift
- Power: 158hp @ 3,200 rpm
- Torque: 385Nm from 1,600-2,500 rpm
3.2L Titanium 4x4
- Engine: 3.2-litre Duratorq five-cylinder TDCi diesel engine
- Transmission: 6R80 Six-speed torque converter automatic with Sports Shift
- Power: 197hp @ 3,000 rpm
- Torque: 470Nm from 1,750-2,500 rpm
From the front, the all-new Everest adopts its pickup truck sibling’s look with similarly shaped headlights (featuring halogen or xenon bulbs), right down to the position of the fog lamps. Even the muscular grooves on the hood are retained here as well. Distinguishing details for the SUV include its front grille and a silver front bumper guard that frames the fog lamps as well.
As we continue down the side of the vehicle, the side display vents are still present and point towards either of the two variants, be it the 3.2L or 2.2L variant. Another indicator are the side mirror (with indicators) where the higher-spec 3.2L’s are chromed. Being a plush seven-seater, the Everest’s rear section is modified from the Ranger to accommodate third-row seating with changes made to the suspension, which will be covered later.
Moving towards the rear, the taillights are linked by a centre chrome plate bearing the ‘Everest’ nameplate, while another bumper guard that bears resemblance to the one located at the front surrounds the rear fog lamps as well.
It certainly has a presence to it and I would even call it quite a handsome looker especially when riding on those 20-inch wheels found on the 3.2L, whereas the 2.2L gets smaller 18-inchers.
It’s a similar story on the inside with the layout of the cabin near-identical to that of the new Ranger. Beginning with the driver, the instrument cluster has a central analogue speedometer flanked by two multi-info colour configurable display screens. The one on the left displays multimedia and phone connectivity functions while the right one is capable of showing a tachometer, fuel level, temperature, digital speedometer, and many more. A main draw is the off-road mode which displays the pitch and yaw of the vehicle, handy when navigation rough terrain.
Infotainment is handled by Ford’s proprietary SYNC 2 system with multiple media inputs, Bluetooth phone connectivity, climate control, and a compass that shows the direction of travel (navigation component is market dependant).
Below the buttons and dials which control the climate control as well, there are two 12V power adapters and beneath that are controls for the features found on the Everest in its 3.2 4WD specification. These include the diff-lock, 4x4 low-diff, parking sensor, park assist, and the dial which controls the Terrain Management System.
Only the 3.2 gets two eight-way powered seats at the front while in the 2.2, only the passenger gets it. The second-row seats is adjustable with a 60:40 split fold while the third-row seats can be easily folded flat with either a pull of a lever at the back or with a simple push of a button (3.2 only). Air-conditioning vents can be found on the roof of the car for both the second- and third-row as well, controlled via two dials located in the second row. Passengers also have a panoramic sunroof with a retractable shade as well.
DRIVING THE 2015 FORD EVEREST
The drive took us through the scenic Thai province of Chiang Rai and introduced the Everest to a typical environment a customer might go through on their daily drive. Going further, Ford even gave us a taste of an extreme situation where the inner ruggedness of the Everest reveals itself, much to our delight.
Portion one of the drive saw us navigate through the twisty roads around Chiang Rai where the majority of the province, which dealt primarily in agriculture. This meant tight twisty roads, which can be a tiring ordeal if not for the Everest’s electric power assisted steering, a first in its class and displacing the Ranger’s hydraulic setup that makes navigating the big SUV no much more difficult than a sedan, particularly useful in tight situations, like parking. Thankfully, Active Park Assist is available here to ease the act of parallel parking. The steering itself adjusts its weightage depending on the current speed of travel as well.
Not only is the Everest easy to navigate, it doesn’t feel cumbersome through the bends either despite its body-on-frame construction. The T6 frame from the Ranger itself receives a significant makeover by Ford with independent Macpherson struts at the front with coil springs and a Watt’s linkage at the rear. The latter is of importance to keeping the bulk of the Everest in check through the corners by allowing the rear axle to move up and down with very little lateral movement, allowing for a more tightly control steering and handling, resulting in well-managed body roll, leagues above the competition.
Two new systems, Curve Control Roll Stability Control also help keep the Everest as composed as it is. The first senses when the vehicle is entering a corner too quickly and automatically adjusts the engine’s torque and applies the brakes to keep things in check. The second uses gyroscopic sensors to detect fast cornering or sharp swerving, selectively applying individual brakes to reduce the likelihood of a rollover.
Coupled with the leather seats – black on the 2.2L and cream-coloured on the 3.2L, and it all equates to a surprisingly comfortable ride, despite its commercial origins. Put simply, the Everest redefines what a ladder-on-frame SUV should feel like on the road, pardon the hyperbolism.
The 3.2-litre Duratorq engine paired to a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission is more than capable of shifting the vehicle’s heft. As for the smaller 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit, it does feel a little more pressured to do the same as compared to its pickup sibling, even with the extra structure at the rear, but still manages to get by well enough. Noise levels are not immediately noticeable but that’s expected of a diesel-powered vehicle. At low rpm, Ford have fitted the Everest with a system dubbed as Active Noise Cancellation, which uses technology similar to that found in noise cancelling headphones, to minimise engine noise.
HOW PRACTICAL IS IT?
This is a seven-seater SUV and is meant to pack in your many family members or your many things. The second row offers a comfortable amount of leg room and can be slid forward for access to the third row. At the back, leg room is a little bit sparser, and shouldn’t be an issue for young children but getting an adult at the back may be a little bit of a squeeze.
With a 60:40 manually-operated split folding second row seats and the 50:50 one-touch electrically assisted folding one set to its maximum cargo capacity, 2,010 litres of storage is available, coinciding with the 30 plus stowage spaces littered throughout the car. With the seats folded up, 450 litres are available.
As you can see, the boot also comes equipped with a 230V/150W power point so you can plug in a cooler for your road trip with the family. Of course, the third row seats will have to fold down to accommodate this. A powered tailgate provides easy access to the boot but lacks the Kuga’s foot-sensing opening function.
WHAT ABOUT THE OFF-ROAD BIT?
At this point, we are well aware that the all-new Ford Everest handles itself pretty well on the tarmac, with impressive handling and levels of refinement. On the next portion of the drive, everyone jumped into the 3.2L Titanium 4x4 variant which comes fitted with the new Terrain Management System (TMS) for a spot of off-roading demonstrations.
Before we jump into it, there’s a few things you need to know about the four-wheel drive system on the Everest. Firstly, this is more sophisticated than that found on the new Ford Ranger, and is a full-time setup. The system comprises of a two-speed active transfer with a Torque on Demand feature. On its own, torque is split on a 60:40 rear-to-front basis and if you’re cruising on the highway, it can be changed to an 80:20 bias. Depending on the situation, nearly 100% of the power and be delivered to either ends as well.
An electronic locking rear differential is also added to cope with extreme situations that require absolute traction as is a low range mode, both activated by the driver with buttons in the cabin. Speaking of which, the TMS gets a dedicated dial near these controls and the gear lever, offering four different modes – Normal; Snow, Mud and Grass; Sand; Rock.
Of course, there’s a need to test out the validity of the Everest’s off-road capabilities, and so we turned off to a paddy field with relatively steep inclines/declines, a patch of river crossing, and generous amounts of mud and loose soil to try and punish the seven-seater SUV. It didn’t help the nerves that a downpour the night before made things all the more menacing.
That wasn’t an issue for the Everest as it tackled the course and proved itself to be a capable all-terrain vehicle. Just set the TMS dial to the relevant mode for the road condition and the SUV just continues on its way. At each station, we were given instructions on how to use the Everest’s other all-terrain functions like the hill descent, which worked flawlessly by managing the vehicle’s speed on the steering wheel, and the dynamic low range.
The river crossing was uneventful as well as it didn’t really challenge the car’s 800mm water wading capabilities. Climbing uphill and downhill wasn’t an issue either with a high approach (29.5 degrees), break over (21.5 degrees), and departure (25 degrees) angles, coupled to a 225mm ground clearance. We’re not sure if customers on our side of the world will be driving their cars through situations like what you see here but it’s good to know that if need be, the Everest is capable of it.
WHAT SAFETY OPTIONS DO I GET?
As what was mentioned earlier, Curve Control and Roll Stability Control is part of the safety package but the Everest also gets the standard electronic stability control as well. Seven airbags (front, side, curtain, and knee) are also part of the safety suite
On the other hand, driver assistance systems fitted include Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, Lane Keeping System, Hill Launch Assist and a Blind Spot Information System.
COMING TO MALAYSIA? PRICE?
Yes definitely but only after the new Ford Ranger makes its official launch debut here in Malaysia. Expect the powertrain options to be similar to what is listed at above but it’s anyone’s guess what the final equipment list will be like.
Prices aren’t given at the time of writing though with the high level of sophistication found on the all-new Ford Everest, we may be looking at something significantly northwards of the Isuzu MU-X’s RM152k entry price tag, with estimates pinning it at around RM180k for the 2.2L and over RM200k for the 3.2L.
As for its competitors, well there are few in the seven-seater SUV segment which will go up against the Everest. The Isuzu MU-X (from RM151,944) comes in close by offering the same seven-seater SUV layout but at a more affordable price. The Toyota Fortuner (from RM169,096) and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (from RM150,277) are also noteworthy competition as well.