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2015 Ford Everest to target Toyota Prado

According to Ford’s Trevor Worthington, the 2015 Ford Everest, launching in Thailand this week, is out of the league of similar seven-seater wagons and aimed squarely at Toyota Prado…

SPEAKING WITH OUR occasional contributor and editor at Yahoo NZ Autos, Worthington, the Australian who as Ford’s vice-president product development for Asia-Pacific oversaw every step of Everest’s development, says other seven-seater wagons of construction commonality with the incoming Ford Everest are too inferior to be considered equals – and this is exactly what we predicted.

The Everest, a spin-off from Ford’s strong-selling utility, Ranger, arrives in October priced from $54,990 (+ORC). It’ll be offered in three trims: Everest, Everest Trend ($60,990+ORC) and Everest Titanium ($76,990+ORC). Priced at more than some of its key rivals: Holuden Colorado 7 and Isuzu MU-X, there will be others here soon too in the form of the new Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Challenger, Worthington puts the premium down to quality costing more.

He says it’s impossible to cite every reason why his rig is better. Yet he is adamant anyone, motoring journalists especially, who dares measure Everest against similarly sized seven-seater utility spin-offs is heading down the wrong road.

“That (comparison) assumes that the development process was the same for all those vehicles,” he said. Not so. Ford spent more time on refinement, all-round ability and implemented a much higher level of technology.

 “We’ve certainly driven all those vehicles, we know those vehicles well. It would be our view that they have taken a very different approach to what we have taken.”

Speaking from the model’s international launch in Thailand, Worthington said Ford contends Everest compares more comfortably with non-ute aligned, ‘serious’ off-roader wagons.

Specifically, these are the Toyota Prado, which starts from mid-$50k and will be refreshed next month with a new engine and transmission (shared with Fortuna and next-gen Hilux, where it makes 130kW and 450Nm) before Everest arrives, (in October) plus Jeep’s Grand Cherokee.

Worthington says although Everest is related to Ranger, and shares the same platform, drivetrain and nose, it is designed and constructed to a higher standard than other light truck-related wagons.

Asked to cite specifically where Everest beats the Holden, Toyota and Isuzu, Worthington replied: “I really, really honestly wouldn’t know where to start.”

As for Fortuna, set to land next year, which Toyota has cited as a worthy rival for the new Ford? Worthington has left impression it’ll be no contest.

“This vehicle (Everest) competes in a range of markets around the world. In some markets it competes against Prado, in some it competes against Fortuna … in some it competes against both. 

“We have benchmarked Prado. We have absolutely targeted … to be as good as them (Toyota), better than them, in many respects.”

Everest has the same 3.2-litre turbo diesel engine found in the Range, but slightly detuned to produce 143kW (down 4kW against the Ranger) and 470Nm. Each model will be offered standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.

By way of comparison, the Prado from September will be available with 130kW/450Nm, Colorado makes 147kW/500Nm and the MU-X has 130kW/380Nm.

The Everest will offer considerable off-road credentials in the way of full-time four-wheel drive, an 800mm water wading depth, a four-mode terrain select system, hill descent control, electronic locking rear differential and an active transfer case.

It boasts a three-tonne braked towing capacity and minimum 225mm ground clearance.

The standard safety suite includes seven airbags, stability control, ABS, traction control and emergency brake assist.

The entire Everest line-up boasts Ford’s SYNC infotainment software. Trend and Titanium also feature a MyKey function that allows parents to programme a key that limits top speed and limits the maximum radio volume, among other features.

Worthington says Everest has been built to high standard for the simple reason that it is expected to be around for a long life cycle, with the assumption that the key competitors would improve over that period.

“We have benchmarked against a future Prado, a future Fortuner, future Jeeps … those are the targets that we have set.”

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Richard Bosselman

Richard Bosselman