Trade-tough underpinnings, family-friendly trimmings, the Everest is a competent all-rounder – and our latest long-termer
What we liked:
• Impressive off-road ability
• Roomy well laid-out cabin
• Effortless five-cylinder torque
Not so much:
• No reserve fuel tank
• Sharp high frequency ride
• Child-only third-row seats
There’s no sign of Australia’s love affair with SUVs cooling down. Take a look at sales of four-wheel drive vehicles in Australia last year and this news will come as no surprise.
The ability to head bush for some off-road adventure continues to underwrite many local SUV sales, which prompted us to give Ford a call regarding an Everest long-termer. As the winner of last year’s Large 4WD SUV Comparison we were keen to see just how easy (or not) the seven-seat off-roader was to live with… though not before we’d had a little off-road adventure of our own.
Our two-day trek took us to the spectacular Victorian High Country, in particular the iconic Billy Goat Bluff and Blue Rag Range tracks. Here, the Everest’s low-range gearing, excellent ground clearance (225mm) and articulation would be put to the test – as it turned out, so too did its air-conditioning system and dust sealing.
The cruise from Carsales HQ to Dargo was uneventful and, as expected after previous road tests, extremely efficient. Ford’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission proved to be an effortless combination on the highway, returning excellent cruising fuel consumption (8.4L/100km) with a load in the back, and there was plenty in reserve for overtaking.
While not as polished as the Prado we also had along for the trip, the Everest’s six-speed automatic still made the right decisions and had a great spread of ratios for on-road driving. However Ford should consider a little taller gearing for the low range to assist serious off-road work.
In most situations the Everest’s gearing deficiencies go unnoticed – going uphill all that low-end torque makes up for any shortcomings in the ratio department – but when crawling down steep grades, we felt the low-range could be a little, well, lower.
Of course not everyone will test the Everest in such extremities, and when you consider this is a production vehicle made to perform myriad other tasks, it’s really a pretty small niggle. The Prado did, however, perform better on this front (check out our comparison here for more details).
The Everest excelled where clearance was concerned. Looking at the gap between the tyres and the wheel arches it’s obvious there’s plenty of space for clearing rocks and the likes. Despite the gnarly terrain on our route, the Everest didn’t once bottom-out. Even the handy side steps managed to clear everything we threw at them – a good thing considering how important these are for access in and out of the vehicle.
A lot of thought has clearly been placed into the Everest’s use as the family truckster. The interior is flexible, with plenty of space in the first and second rows, and a plethora of cargo space (450/1050/2010 litres) – even with four adults on board.
However the third row might best be left for the littlies, and access does require a level of dexterity for taller teens. It’s here the B-pillar grab handle really comes in handy.
The Everest is one of only a handful of vehicles in its class capable of towing 3000kg (braked); but more on this in an update soon.
We loved the Everest’s light, electrically-assisted steering – especially its ability to absorb road shock on rugged trails. There’s a level of accuracy and feedback in the Everest’s steering which many rivals lack, and on tight, winding tracks it really is a pleasure to use.
Dust sealing worked pretty well and the air-con kept its cool in spite of the heat. Personally, I’d prefer dials to operate the temperature rather than hard-to-locate-when-bouncing-around buttons, but for the most part the climate control is a case of ‘set and forget’.
If I had one final criticism of the Everest off-road it’s that an 80-litre tank really doesn’t get you far. A couple of hours in low range in steep terrain – and with grown-ups and their gear on board – saw fuel consumption jump closer to 13.0L/00km, giving an effective range of just over 600km. It’s fine in most scenarios, but we reckon you’d struggle on extended outback trips, especially with say the camper van in tow.
Over the coming months we’ll test the Everest across the full scope of its design brief. Trips off-road, weekends away, the school run, towing the ‘van… basically anything we can think of to throw at it.
And if you’d like us to look at anything in particular, please let us know in the comments section below.
motoring.com.au aims to make your choice of vehicle easier. Our Editorial section does this via our mix of news, international and local launch reviews, as well as our seven-day tests.
From time to time we also take the opportunity to spend even longer with a vehicle. These longer-term tests can be as short as a couple of weeks, but more recently we’ve settled on a three-month period as indicative of ‘normal’ ownership.
Long-term tests give our staff writers and contributors a chance to get to know a car as an owner would. While the car is with us, we pay for fuel, the servicing, and generally use and live with the car as a new owner would.
We believe long-term tests give car buyers a deeper insight into the vehicle on test, but also the qualities behind the brand and nameplate. The extended period also allows us to touch base with the dealer networks in question.
It comes as no surprise that manufacturers tend to have a love-hate relationship with long-term tests. Three months is plenty long enough to fall out of love with the latest and greatest, and start to nit-pick — just like real owners do.
2018 Ford Everest Trend 4WD pricing and specifications:
- Price: $58,990 (plus on-road costs)
- Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Output: 143kW/470Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Fuel: 8.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
- CO2: 225g/km (ADR Combined)
- Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP