4x4

2017 Ford Everest Trend Review

Robert Pepper’s 2017 Ford Everest Trend review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The Everest is derived from the much-admired Ranger ute, is Ford’s offroad-oriented seven-seater heavy-duty wagon and offers much-needed fresh thinking in the heavy-duty 4WD wagon market.

2017 Ford Everest Trend

Pricing $58,990 (price change announced April 2017) plus onroad costs Warranty three-years, 100,000 kilometre; Safety 5 star ANCAP 35.98/37 rating for 2015 Engine 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 143kW at 3000rpm Torque 470Nm at 1750-2500rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Drive all-wheel-drive, low range, locking rear differential, adaptive terrain system Dimensions 4892mm (L); 1860mm (W); 1837mm (H) Ground clearance 225mm Approach/ramp/departure angles 29.5 / 21.5 / 25 degrees  Wading 800mm Seats Seven Turning circle 11.7m Tare weight 2407kg GVM 3100kg Fuel Tank 80 litres Thirst 8.5L/100km Towing 3000kg braked, 300kg TBM, 750kg unbraked GCM 5800kg Spare full-size alloy underslung

Editor's Rating

Interior & practicality
Infotainment
Onroad
Dirt roads
Offroad
Safety
Value
The Ford Everest has slotted right into the top rank of medium-4x4 touring wagons, offering a great onroad drive, class-leading infotainment, decent safety features, a practical interior and good value. Its offroad capability is adequate, and the aftermarket support is there so it should be considered for anyone in the market for a wagon you can drive anywhere in Australia.

THE FORD EVEREST is one of those vehicles that appears common, yet is actually quite rare. It may be called an SUV, but your typical SUV is really just a high-riding wagon with no real rough terrain or towing capability. Instead, the Everest is a wagon built on the same platform as the Ranger ute. And that means it can tow and handle offroad work.

News of the Everest was received with delight by Australia’s offroad tourers, who rightly hold the Ranger in high regard and wanted some more choice in the rather moribund offroad wagon market dominated by Pajero and Prado, both of which are better described as old faithfuls rather than young guns. The fact that the Everest was related to the Ranger also helped build anticipation.

So, expectations for the Everest were high, and inflated even further when the pricelist was revealed, which shall we say certainly showed Ford’s confidence in its product. Then, Ford made an error by classifying the vehicle under the federal regulations as MA for non-offroad passenger instead of the more appropriate MC offroad-passenger designation. After Practical Motoring broke that story there was much campaigning by owners, and that error has since been rectified. Overall, it reflects well on Ford for their having fixed the problem, even if you have to wonder how on earth they thought it appropriate in the first place, especially as the vehicles are developed right here in Australia.

So where does the Everest fit in? Compared to the others it’s on the large side for a medium wagon. Here’s the overall lengths some of its peers:

  • Pajero Sport 4785mm;
  • Fortuner 4795;
  • Pajero 4900*;
  • Prado 4930*;
  • MU-X 4825;
  • Discovery 4838;
  • Everest 4892; and
  • LC200 4990.

*includes spare wheel, comparable body length at least 100mm shorter.

The Everest is available in three trim levels; Ambiente, Trend and Titanium. All Everests are six-speed diesel automatics, and there are now rear-drive only Trends and Ambientes as of April 2017. Our tester is the 4×4 Trend variant, and we had it for a week during which we did some country road cruising, off-road work and commuting.

What’s it like inside?

Practical and not bad looking is the summary. There’s more use of different shades and colours than is usually the case for a car of this class, and it all looks rather cohesive.

On the practicality score, up front the Everest varies from good to average. On the good front, there are two clearly accessible 12v sockets and two USBs, and a phone cubby. Then there’s the usual glovebox, side-pockets, drinks holders and centre console which are all just par for the course. It’s interesting to compare my own PX Ranger with the Everest – in mine, I’ve got a split centre console lid and by the steering wheel another little storage box where the Everest (and PX2 Ranger) now has its fusebox.

Moving into the second row and there’s a 12v plus a 230v socket, which is a truly great addition, and heat/cool controls. It’s amazing how few, allegedly family, vehicles have electrical connections in the back.

We also have one-touch windows all round, and the second-row seats are a 40:60 split. Each second-row seat can be slid forwards and backwards, and the seatback angles are adjustable. The second-row folds down but not flat. The seats are pretty comfy too.

Into the third row and the good news continues. That’s a 50:50 split, folding into the floor which is a good start – unlike, say, Toyota Fortuner, LandCruiser 200 Series and Mitsubishi Pajero, which don’t have a split third row – and there’s a 12v socket which is another positive. There are four tie-down points that fold flush and appear to be strong.

There are child restraints points on both third-row seats, a rare and very good design feature. But in the third row there’s not very much room for your feet even given the Everest’s size; this is no Land Rover Discovery.

Now we get to a big negative – the third-row not only doesn’t fold level, it also doesn’t latch down so the boot floor is always a bit springy. This is disappointing given the rest of the interior has lots of nice little touches. Now why is this a problem?

  • If you build something like a cargo system for the back with a slide out drawer or similar, because the boot is at an angle there is a risk of fouling the scuff plate. If the boot was perfectly horizontal like it is on most cars that wouldn’t be a problem;
  • In order to secure items in the boot you need to lash them down tightly. Given that the top part of the boot floor is now a springy base that means extra strain on the tie-down points, and extra effort you need to put into securing your load. There is also the problem of things moving slightly over corrugations as the seatbase (boot floor) moves up and down; and
  • Things are apt to roll out of the boot even when the car is on the flat due to the incline.

Some owners have pulled the third-row seats out entirely, solving the problem and once that’s done the space can be used for rarely-accessed spares or tools, or a water bladder. Or you could just live with it. It’s not a dealbreaker for most people, more just something you wouldn’t expect for the price.

You can see the angle of the boot in the photo, it’s not flat. Also visible is the interior light on the right, the 12v on the left, and five (!) child restraint anchor points, one for each seat.

The spare wheel release is nearly in the right place – it’s accessed by lifting up a lid where you also find all the tyre changing equipment. Unfortunately, if you’ve built a cargo system over the top that may well be a pain. The best place for the spare release is right in the door jamb where it will never interfere with the cargo and cannot be accessed from outside. The mechanism to operate the release is an rectangular bar of metal which Ford supply, but it’s a pity they couldn’t just make it a 12mm bolt or the something which doesn’t need a unique tool to operate. Unique tools can be lost.

Useful extra storage space. The spare wheel release is visible in the centre near the tailgate latch. Ford even supply a little hook (visible at the top of the lid in the middle) so when the third row is up the lid stays over. Very thoughtful. Photo also shows the excellent tie-down points.

The summary for the Everest interior; fine to good for offroad touring except for the boot. As a seven-seater SUV it is workable enough but it’s not up there with the likes of the Kluger or Santa Fe, but few offoaders are.

Click any image to start the Ford Everest interior gallery.

What’s the infotainment system like?

The 2017 Everest runs Ford’s Sync3, which is one of the better infotainment units on the market, if not the best, and I include marques like Mercedes and Audi in my consideration. It is clear, responsive, easy to use and packed with features that are mostly usuable, not gimmicks. And it’s not just the features, but how they’re done.

For example, the Bluetooth display pulls in a photo of the artist, and shows how far you’ve got through the track. You can enter the frequency of a radio station, there’s a do-not-disturb mode for your phone, the sat-nav has a pinch-zoom feature, it’ll read text messages, the map shows congestion, and on which side of the road that congestion is. There’s a where-am-I feature, the sat-nav can find parking automatically at the end of your trip, there’s app integration for Spotify and Glympse. The list goes on, and in the safety section we’ll cover a bit more.

There’s also Android Auto and Apple Carplay integration, but both are optional. Which is great, use it when you want to, for example if you’re the driver, or not if you don’t wish to as when you’re the passenger.

I have said before that I generally don’t like or use in-car satnav, preferring my phone’s Google Maps, but if I owned a Sync 3 equipped car I’d definitely use it. Aside from all the reasons above the Sync system is about the only one that gives the driver situational awareness – which means you can get a sense when looking at the map of where you are in context to everything else. Most satnav doesn’t do that, it just gives you directions and you can’t get a feel of the overall route, at least not easily. And you can just enter an address which the system will figure out as you type, and it works while you’re moving. This is the best satnav on the market, in my humble opinion.

Then we have the driver’s dash display. There are two TFT screens, one to the left of the speedo, one right. The left one shows navigation, entertainment and phone, even changing background colour as modes change. The right screen shows various vehicle-related information, a lot of it; detailed information on fuel consumption, trip meters, gauges, even a digital speedo.

Perhaps the only improvement to this setup would be a set of physical shortcut buttons for the main features of navigation, phone and audio because as good as Sync 3 is, it’s still a touchscreen and hard to use off-road.

There is one feature that saved hassle and that’s breadcrumbs, or a tracklog for those who know GPS. Like most parents, I do a lot of driving to some random teenager’s house or other and often that involves travelling deep into some suburb of McMansion identikit housing – and I’m totally lost after the first five junctions. Fortunately, turning on the Everest’s breadcrumb feature shows little dots on the map where you’ve been, so I simply followed the dots out back to the main road. Yes, I could have set the sat-nav, but I liked that feature nevertheless.

If it’s not obvious, Sync 3 is very good indeed and is a major reason to buy the Everest. It’ll definitely make your life easier. Ford have even calibrated the voice recognition for Aussie accents.

Click any image to view the Ford Sync 3 image gallery.

Performance, ride and handling

What’s it got?

The Everest has a full-time all-wheel drive system. The centre “differential” is a clutch type system and cannot be manually locked but is computer-controlled to distribute torque front and rear as required, with a rear-drive bias thanks to a 40:60 front:rear nominal torque split. There is low-range and the usual aids of brake and engine traction control (read our explanation here).

A cross-axle rear differential lock is standard and is manually selectable. The transmission is a six-speed automatic with sport mode and manual control, and the sole engine is a 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel (143kW/470Nm). Whenever you take control of the gears yourself the right dash screen automatically shows the revcounter which is often hidden by other displays.

There is an adaptive terrain system called Terrain Management:

  • Normal mode – This mode is for on-road conditions and should be used on hard road surfaces, or once the need for any of the off-road modes has passed.
  • Mud/Snow – This mode should be used where a firm surface is covered with loose or slippery material. This includes gravel, shallow mud, wet grass or snow covered road.
  • Sand – This mode should be used for crossing deep sand or deep sticky mud.
  • Rock – This mode gives low speed controllability for crawling over rocks. Low range must be selected before this mode is activated.

So in low range only Normal and Rock can be selected, and the vehicle will not upchange from first low in Rock – you need to manually select higher gears. As usual with mud/snow (and grass) modes these are not suited for use in deep, soft conditions such as snow more than about 100mm deep or thick mud. Think of them more as ‘slippery surface’ modes, as per Ford’s description, and that’s why it recommends Sand mode for deep mud.

We asked Ford why only Rock mode is available in low range and it said it wanted some significant differences between the modes and that seemed to be possible only in high range. That may be the case for Ford, but Toyota has gone in the opposite direction with Multi-Terrain Select and not made any special modes available in high range… whereas Land Rover, which invented the adaptive terrain concept has made all its modes available in both high and low range with the exception of Rock Crawl which is low only. No, I don’t know how three different engineering teams came up with three different answers to the same problem. And yes, those icons look just like Land Rover’s, because at the time Ford owned Land Rover.

    

The hill descent control system works in forwards and reverse, and with the rear locker engaged. It is active at speeds less than 35km/h, deactivated above 40km/h and is turned off above 60km/h. The target speed is set using the cruise control buttons in 1km/h increments, or just use the accelerator or brake. The initial speed is determined by the gear you’re in when you switch it on.

The Everest runs a DPF and has an 18L AdBlue tank. The steering wheel is tilt but not reach adjustable, as per the Ranger, and the steering system is electric. We will run a separate article on AdBlue shortly.

Everest in low range. Stability control and engine traction control are disabled, brake traction control remains enabled. We have selected to display the revcounter, which also appears automatically when you manually select gears – S for sport mode, then use the shift fore/aft.

The Everest also has Curve Control, where if it detects an emergency situation – determined by speed and steering angle – it will brake all four wheels individually during a turn to slow the car and help it corner.

There are two recovery points, one front rated to 1.25 of GVM, and one rear rated to 1.0 of GVM.

Around town

The Everest weighs between 2300-2495kg empty – so the lightest Everest is heavier than the heaviest Ranger – and is powered by a commercially-oriented 147kW diesel engine, so sprightly performance is not its forte. You certainly do not leap away from the lights, but once moving there’s sufficient grunt for the performance to be acceptable, if not exciting.

But I’d trade some power for what the Everest offers which is handling that’s not only safe but fun. I love the on-road drive – Ford has managed to give this off-roader a dynamic zestiness that’s a bit unexpected, more fun its 4X4 peers.

The steering is quick and precise with good turn-in and solid mid-corner stability. The gearbox shifts smoothly and accurately – the sport mode is useful, but the gearbox is sufficiently smart that it’s not often needed. And you don’t really need to worry about traction thanks to the all-drive, rear-biased system doing its work.

The wing mirrors also need praise – they’re big and so you get a great view behind. We also need to mention here that the reversing cameras are well above average. There’s a big, clear, bright picture and you can zoom in, there’s guidelines for the wheels, side of the car and even the towball. Basically, it’s a best in class reversing camera. There’s even forward and rear parking sensors, so tight maneuvering is easy.

The steering column is not reach adjustable which is a big omission these days, but nevertheless most drivers should manage to be comfortable. Out of all the 4WDs on the market, I think the Everest would be pretty much my pick for the suburban drive, and I’d take it over many soft-roader-SUVs too.

Open roads

The Everest is a comfortable long-distance cruiser too. The noise levels in the cabin are hushed, no doubt due to the noise cancelling tech and there’s adequate power for overtaking. The engine pulls well, but is a bit gruff and at higher revs seems to make more noise than power.

The electronic driving aids work acceptably well. The adaptive cruise is not the best calibrated I’ve used, not being able to detect and respond to changing traffic as well as other systems, and it cancels entirely below 20km/h whereas others work down to 0km/h. This is annoying in stop/start traffic. The cruise control itself has speed increments of 2km/h which a frankly appalling given Everest was developed in Victoria where we need speedos accurate to 1km/h plus three decimal places.

The transmission’s sport mode is useful but the gearbox is sufficiently smart that it’s not often needed. The manual controls (no steering-mounted paddle shifts) work well, too.

Dirt roads

Away from the bitumen, the Everest is a fantastic dirt-road cruiser, and the only improvement I’d want to make is another hundred kilowatts of power.

The all-wheel-drive system delivers power to the ground with never the slightest hint of wheelspin, the handling is not quite rally car but certainly much sharper and more responsive than most 4x4s. The rear-drive bias is great as understeer seems to be almost entirely dialed out. If you really push it the car’s electronics will come in, but the calibration is very well done and it’s more of a nudge than a slap.

Part of our dirt-road test is emergency braking; a full-on ABS-activated stop on surfaces with different traction levels. Most vehicles these days pass that test well enough so it’s unremarkable. The Everest did as well as any other recent 4WD we’ve tested, but when we braked hard with two wheels on dirt and two on bitumen the Everest was stable and pulled up as straight as the laws of physics would allow. Impressive. Essentially, you can just slam on the brakes in any situation and the electronics will do their best to keep you alive.

I was also impressed with the Everest it charged up my test dirt-road hill which is full of corrugations lesser vehicles bounce around or have their electronics cut power – the Everest loved it, and so did I. A car I’d be very happy to drive on dirt roads for hours.

Off-road Driving

Determining the Everest’s offroad capability was interesting and challenging because Ford have engineered the Everest a bit differently to what’s normally done, and their approach has certainly has its pros and cons.

There is plenty of grunt in low range, easy throttle modulation and no turbo lag. Also good is the gearing; not so much the crawl ratio which is a decent  42:1 (transfer case ratio 2.717:1), but the control. You can pull away in second gear both in high and low range, and if you select a gear the car will do its very best to keep in the gear come what may, and it won’t change up when you hit redline. This is good for off-road control, for example, when you select first for a downhill the car won’t change up, and if you select say third for a climb the car doesn’t decide fourth is better just as you start the ascent.

The electronics also don’t inhibit throttle response once you’re in low range or when stability control is switched off – engine traction control is disabled. The hill descent control system is one of the best on the market, working down to 2km/h and even better can be activated with the rear differential lock engaged. That means you don’t run out of engine compression braking when one rear wheel lifts in the air or loses traction as you descend a hill. Most other vehicles make you choose – hill descent control or locker in. This was also an important change on the Ranger PX2 compared to the PX.

On the improvement front, despite the use of a rear live axle, the Everest is not particularly flexible, either total flex or ability to use that flex as the various photos show. Normally this is countered by effective traction control, but more on that shortly.

The we come to the centre differential (actually a centre clutch, but same sort of effect), which cannot be manually locked. Instead, the computers decide how much torque should be split front and rear. The advantage of this approach is that you never need to remember to lock a centre diff, and compared to a car with a lockable centre diff or part-time 4×4 system you get a tighter turning circle as the computers permit the front and back axles to rotate at different speeds when the vehicle turns. The Everest’s turning circle is 11.7m, the Prado is 11.6m but lock the Prado’s centre diff and you’d be well over 12m with scuffed tyres.

Tight turns with limited traction on diagonal wheels are where vehicles with computer-controlled centre diffs have an advantage over those that require their centre diff to be manually locked, or part-time 4WD systems.

The Everest’s front/rear torque split is effective. This is no soft-roader which spins wheels on one axle while the other wheels sit idly by.

Now we come to what is perhaps the most important part of any modern 4WD’s design for offroad capability, which is the brake traction control design, or torque control left and right across an axle (read our explanation on the differences between brake traction control, engine traction control and stability control). One important test I give every 4WD and SUV is to cross-axle it; diagonal wheels in the air, and always on an upslope, and then have it climb up and out, if it can. On this measure the Everest wasn’t as good as other vehicles I’ve recently tested. There was a lot of fuss and bother from the traction control and the vehicle required momentum to complete the obstacle. This wasn’t particularly surprising as Ford’s traction control calibration has been below-par ever since the Ranger PX of 2012. The PX2 improved it but still not to the standard of, say, Toyota.

Now some readers are wondering about the locking rear differential. Me too, so we tested it. Ford have done a good job on the controls here in two ways; first, you don’t actually need to be stopped to engage it (hello, Mitsubishi, Toyota, etc) and it works in high-range up to 30km/h which is great. This sort of driver-control tends to be a hallmark of Ford engineering.

The other unusual, and good point about the rear locker is that when it is engaged brake traction control works on the front axle. This is in contrast to some of its rivals, notably the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. With those cars I recommend not bothering with the locker as the traction control is so effective, and it works across all four wheels, whereas their lockers work only on the rear axle leaving the front differential open with no brake traction control. There are exceptions, for example, the latest-generation Toyota Prado Kakadus have a rear locker that works with brake traction control.

The Everest is different. It’s easy to disengage or engage the locker, and brake traction control works on the front axle so you’re better off using the locker as much as you can. But when I say brake traction control “works” on the front axle, it’s not very effective, even less so than when the rear locker is disengaged. We had the Everest in several situations where both rear wheels were spinning, and one front, yet the brake traction control system refused to send sufficient torque to the one remaining wheel which just spun.

Now we need to come back to the centre clutch which distributes torque front/rear, and this time in the context of hills. Unfortunately, Ford have made the very common mistake with such systems of disconnecting the centre clutch when at rest. Have a look at this video at the 2:48 mark where we see the Everest facing downhill:

So, what’s happening here? Both vehicles are in neutral with the parkbrake on, and in both Everest and Ranger the parkbrake works only on the rear wheels, as it does on most 4x4s. But the Ranger has a part-time 4WD system, so when both rear wheels are immobilised both front ones are as well. Same deal for a vehicle with a lockable centre differential like the Prado or Pajero Sport – you lock the rear wheels, and if the centre diff is locked that also locks the front wheels as there’s a fixed link between front and rear axle.

However, because the Everest’s centre clutch unlocks at rest then the rear wheels can be locked yet the fronts are free to turn, so down the hill it slides. Then the computer notices the front wheels are turning so it locks the centre clutch, which means the front wheels have to turn at the same speed as the rears, which is 0km/h, and the vehicle is brought to a halt. Then as it’s stopped it unlocks again, so you slide down the hill. This cycle continues until you reach the bottom. Not ideal.

The Everest’s parkbrake was unable hold the vehicle on this downslope.

The correct way is to secure a vehicle on the hill is secure it with the parkbrake before selecting park on the transmission to avoid transmission stress. That’s why the parkbrake exists. So if you’re in an Everest and find yourself sliding down a hill with the parkbrake on… now you know why.

The same basic problem would be apparent when parking on a hill facing upwards, but it plays out a bit differently. When a car brakes most of the braking is done by the front wheels because of the weight shift forwards. This is why front brakes are typically much larger than rear brakes. Cars also have a brake bias towards the front which means that they’re designed to lock the front wheels before the rear wheels, on the basis it’s better to plough straight on with the front wheels locked than to lock the rear wheels and spin. All this means that when facing uphill, having the parkbrake work only on the rear wheels is less of a problem as there’s lots of weight on them, but you’d still really want the front wheels helping to secure the vehicle.

There is also a problem when failing a hill climb, when you’re sat at the top of the hill and need to hold the car there before reversing. With brake pressure the front wheels will lock before the rears, and you’ll lose steering control. However, as soon as the Everest’s wheels begin to rotate the centre clutch starts to lock up, so control is regained, it’s not like a completely open centre diff as Land Rover had on the Discovery 2 before shamefacedly bringing it back in on the 2a. However, we did see Everests back down hills with both front wheels temporarily locked. One solution would be to use hill descent control which works very well on the Everest, but even at 2km/h that’s often too fast for comfort.

This sort of issue often happens when you don’t get a centre difflock. We found that the Haval H9, for example, goes into 2WD at rest in low range after switching from forwards to reverse or back again, so you’ve got a moment of 2WD only before the transmission decides to drive all four wheels. The earlier Evoques and Freelanders were far too front-drive biased, able to spin both front wheels and have neither rear rotating. We found similar issues with the VW Amarok AWD automatic ute too. The list of centre-clutch problems goes on… I’m not against clever centre diffs or clutches, but if you’re going to be clever with your electronics, be real-world clever about it.

There are another couple of oddities in the Everest’s 4WD system. First is that rock crawl only uses first gear, never shifts to second unless you take control manually. Now, yes, in theory you may only use first low, but what if you drive a bit of rock, then a flat section and then rock again? You’d want the transmission to change up, and why bother switching modes for one hundred metres, or so? And Rock Mode is useful for terrain other than rocks too, notably rutted hills. Ford are usually commendably driver-control centric, so this design makes no real sense. Instead, why not simply delay shifting until the revs are higher than usual, like other rock modes in other vehicles.

Also illogical is the fact you can’t select Mud/Grass/Snow mode or Sand mode in low range. Both terrains may need to be negotiated at speeds below say 30km/h and that’s where low range is useful, offering a wide spread of gear ratios and good engine control. Ford told us it couldn’t design in enough of a difference in low range in these modes, which is fair enough as sometimes such systems are more marketing than useful. Still, neither of these two design oddities are a real problem, just a little strange.

So, after all that, what’s the real-world offroad evaluation of the Everest? As an off-roader, it’s not quite at the level of the Toyota Prado, Land Rover Discovery or LandCruiser 200. Where those wagons make rough terrain look effortless, the Everest gets there but has to use more effort and momentum.

That said, I still need to consider my litmus test in my verdict, and that is: would I drive an Everest across the toughest tracks in the High Country with my family on board? And the answer is, yes, yes I would, as many people are already – you can read about some owners with modified vehicles here, and I’m happy to recommend the vehicle as the basis for an off-road tourer build.

Offroad Touring

The Ford Everest needs to be considered alongside Pajero (Sport), Toyotas Prado and LC200 and Isuzu MU-X as a serious off-road tourer, so let’s do just that. Off-road ability is adequate as described above, and the fuel tank is 80L which is about average. On the downside, there is AdBlue which is an added complexity that doesn’t help reliability. If your preferred diesel vehicle doesn’t have AdBlue now, the next engine upgrade probably will so this isn’t a problem unique to Ford, so don’t cross Everests off your list on AdBlue alone. If anything, the emergence of DPFs, AdBlue, EGRs and the like is signalling the slow death of the diesel as carmakers fight to meet stricter and stricter emissions controls. Petrol-electric hybrids look like the way forwards, but that’s a topic for another time.

We asked Ford specifically about the AdBlue system and its answers were detailed enough to warrant a dedicated article, but we will clear up some common questions here. First, concerns of vulnerability. The AdBlue tank has been very thoroughly tested and Ford is confident it won’t be punctured any more than a fuel tank and you don’t see people worrying about those. Second, if the AdBlue system does run dry then the car will continue to run indefinitely, but once switched off cannot be restarted. That is a government rule, not something Ford invented, and there will be an error message saying “AdBlue No Engine Start in XXX km”. There is also a warning system in the event of a leak. It would be nice however to get a gauge saying how much is left in the tank rather than just “low”.

We also need to mention Ford’s habit of only specifying on the placard the tyres the car is fitted with, so, for example, the Titanium is placarded only for 20″ rims. At least one dealer has refused to fit the smaller 17″ or 18″ rims from lower-spec models, which is what you’d want for off-roading. This is another compliance pain in the backside that doesn’t need to exist, and while it’s no excuse, it must be said Ford isn’t alone on this score. Ford tell us the reason is that each Everest model is tuned for a specific wheel size.

Aftermarket accessory manufacturers have pretty much got the range of gear available for the Everest, helped by the fact it’s very close to the Ranger. You should be able to pick up barwork, roofracks, dual battery systems, suspension upgrades and more. In short, the Everest is definitely a serious contender in the off-road touring market.

Towing

We didn’t tow with the Everest, but we did see one with the factory towbar fitted and it looked like a very good design; minimised overhang (distance between rear axle and towball), and it didn’t hurt the departure angle. The reversing camera display has an excellent little black dotted line showing where the towball will go. Low range can be selected without locking the centre diff, which is great for maneuvering trailers at slow speeds, especially on rough or sloped terrain. And the Everest has all-wheel drive, plus trailer stability control so the specifications look promising.

Now we need to look at the numbers. Briefly, with a GCM of 5800kg, a GVM of 3100kg and a max tow of 3000kg your payload is reduced from 693kg to 393kg when you tow a 3000kg trailer, or alternatively, if the vehicle is loaded to its 3100kg GVM using all of your 693kg payload then your max tow weight is 2700kg not 3000kg. The maximum towball mass is 300kg. Read this article to find out more. Ford’s recommendation for towing is “distribute the trailer load so that 10-15% of the total trailer weight is on the tongue.”

Read this for more towing information: Everything you need to know about towing heavy trailers.

What about the safety features?

The Everest scored a 5-star rating in 2015 with a 35.98 out of 37 score. That’s par for the course so we need to look at what else the car offers, and in most reviews the answer is not a lot, but the Everest does a lot better than average.

Our Trend gets some advanced safety aids – lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Both are nicely configurable, so you can choose whether you want one or the other. Both aids are effective, but the lane keep assist gets in the way too much and spoils the steering wheel when it doesn’t need to. It is easily disabled or enabled with a touch on the right stalk, unlike some systems which have tedious menus to plough through.

The Everest is also unusual in offering child restraint points in the third row, so there’s a total of five, plus ISOFIX points on the second row outboard seats. And there’s more…

The MyKey system allows you to create a key for someone else, usually your children, with reduced vehicle functions. The Emergency Sync system will call the emergency services in the event of a crash using a paired mobile phone. There’s also a collision warning system that illuminates red lights on the dash and even sounds an alarm – thank you, Swift driver for testing that for me by cutting in. This system isn’t AEB, but it’s still useful. We’ve also praised the reversing camera in the Around Town section above. About the only thing missing, rather oddly, is blind spot warning which you do get on the Titanium.

The Everest is definitely above average for safety in its class, and it’s again a sad limitation of the ANCAP system that its safety features are not reflected with a higher rating than some of its 5-star competitors.

Pricing and Range

There are three trim levels of Everest and two drivetains, 4WD and RWD (rear-wheel-drive). Here’s what you get in each level, excluding bling like differently coloured scuff plates. All Everests share the same engine, transmission and other mechanicals. All prices exclude dealer delivery and other on-road costs. These specifications and prices reflect the changes announced in April 2017.

Ambiente $52,990 (5 seat 4WD), $53,900 (7 seat 4WD), $47,990 (5 seat RWD), $48,990 (7 seat RWD)

  • 17″ rims;
  • Full-sized alloy spare, underslung;
  • Speed limiter;
  • Cruise control;
  • Rear cross-axle locking differential (4×4 only);
  • Terrain Management (4×4 only);
  • Emergency Assist Calling;
  • Rear view camera;
  • Trailer sway control;
  • Trailer pre-wiring;
  • Ford Sync 3;
  • 8″ colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;
  • 230v rear inverter;
  • Dual-zone aircon;
  • Running boards;
  • Rear parking sensors;
  • 10 speaker audio;
  • Rear 12v in boot (also in centre console and front console); and
  • Rear aircon/heating controls.

Trend $58,990 (7 seat 4WD), $53,990 (7 seat RWD)

  • 18″ rims;
  • Auto high beam;
  • Power tailgate;
  • Heated side mirrors with power fold and puddle lamps;
  • Privacy glass;
  • Adaptive cruise with forward collision alert;
  • Driver alert system;
  • Front park sensors;
  • Sat Nav
  • Lane keep assist and departure warning;
  • MyKey;
  • Extra USB port; and
  • Rain sensing wipers.

Titanium $74,701 (7 seat 4WD)

  • 20″ rims;
  • HID headlights;
  • Parallel park assist;
  • Blind spot monitoring;
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Power front seats for driver and passenger;
  • Panoramic glass sunroof
  • Heated front seats, leather accents; and
  • Power fold third row seats.

Extra-cost options are a towbar (and it’s a good one, not like its first effort on the Ranger) for $1000 except for Titanium which is $1300, ‘prestige’ paint for $550 (Trend) and $715 for the Titanium.

So, out of that lot, as usual, you’d start with the base Ambiente model and look for reasons to upgrade. As of mid-April 2017 Ford added Sync 3 and dual-zone climate control plus more speakers to the Ambiente, so while, before, the Trend was the value choice, the Ambiente now looks the goods. The reason to buy a Trend is the adaptive cruise control and that’s about it – the lane departure stuff isn’t great, and you could probably live without the rest. But it’s not much of a step up so worth considering.

But another $20k or so for the Titanium on top of the Trend? It’s really hard to justify the money. If you want more light then fit driving lamps, the mirrors are very good so blind spot is useful but not essential, you can fit aftermarket tyre pressure monitoring and if you must ruin your Everest, bolt on aftermarket bling rims all of which will cost a lot less than $20k, so you’ll have money for parking lessons too.

The RWD version is interesting. Whilst the Everest is a great vehicle, buying a 2WD implies you aren’t going offroad and that kind of destroys the point of the Everest compared to the myriad SUVs like the Santa Fe and Kluger which are just as good on the interior if not better, cheaper to buy and run, and actually have all-wheel-drive which may be handy sometimes. The only reason I can think of to buy a RWD Everest is towing… but the RWD Everest has a GCM of 5700kg not the 5800kg of the 4WD versions. However, it’s slightly lighter so that will probably make no real difference.

Off-roaders should prefer the 17″ rims over the 18 or 20″. Off-road tyres are available in all three sizes but the 17s perform better off-road, can be aired down further and are cheaper, plus there’s less risk of rim damage.

Why would you buy one?

I don’t need to think hard about why to buy the Everest. There are so many reasons; onroad and dirt-road handling, useful livability features and above average safety combined with some reasonable offroad performance and good support from the aftermarket. It’s a great vehicle that deserves to do well.

Further reading


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper