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Why the Ford Everest is not classifed as an MC off road passenger vehicle

The Ford Everest is billed as an offroader, and is steadily gathering a loyal base of enthusiasts. That means the difficult questions keep coming…

UPDATE 15/11/16: we have further explored the MA/MC issue, including noting that Victoria permits a 75mm lift for MC vehicles and the Queensland tyre restrictions. More here. Ford’s position remains that they have “no plans to change” the Everest, and we still haven’t heard from Jeep.

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This all began when a reader wrote in asking why he couldn’t fit 17-inch diameter rims to his top-spec Everest Titanium which comes standard with 20-inch. That question is fully answered here, but another reader pointed out the Everest is classed as an MA vehicle under the Australian Design Rules legislation, which means a passenger vehicle. Specifically:

4.3.1. PASSENGER CAR (MA) A passenger vehicle, not being an off-road passenger vehicle or a forward-control passenger vehicle, having up to 9 seating positions, including that of the driver.

This is as distinct from an MC class vehicle which is:

4.3.3. OFF-ROAD PASSENGER VEHICLE (MC)

A passenger vehicle having up to 9 seating positions, including that of the driver and being designed with special features for off-road operation. A vehicle with special features for off-road operation is a vehicle that:

(a) Unless otherwise ‗Approved‗ has 4 wheel drive; and

(b) has at least 4 of the following 5 characteristics calculated when the vehicle is at its ‗Unladen Mass‗ on a level surface, with the front wheels parallel to the vehicle‘s longitudinal centreline, and the tyres inflated to the ‗Manufacturer’s‘ recommended pressure:

(i) ‗Approach Angle‗ of not less than 28 degrees;

(ii) ‗Breakover Angle‗ of not less than 14 degrees;

(iii) ‗Departure Angle‗ of not less than 20 degrees;

(iv) ‗Running Clearance‗ of not less than 200 mm;

(v) ‗Front Axle Clearance‗, ‗Rear Axle Clearance‗ or‗Suspension Clearance‗ of not less than 175 mm each.

Ford say the reason that Everest is certified as an MA is “due to the product strategy, keeping all variants under the same ADR compliance plate approval. MA allows a 4×4 and 4×2, however a MC only allows a 4×4 variants.” Still, I did read “unless otherwise appproved” above, but we’ll let that slide.

Anyway, this means that 4X4 Everests are not, according to the ADRs, an offroad vehicle. Isuzu have exactly the same problem with 2WD and 4X4 MU-X vehicles, and they went with two different certifications so their 4WD MU-X is an MC. Ford didn’t say why they stuck with just one, but you’d expect cost to be a big part of the answer.

So, is this a problem? Well, yes. Having a vehicle not classed as MC means it is not, in the eyes of the law, an offroad vehicle and therefore not eligible for all sorts of vehicle modification exemptions. Here’s a roundup of a few:

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The original speed rating of the tyre casing must be at least:

For vehicles with a GVM of 4.5 tonnes or less with four or more wheels, the lesser of:

  • 140km/h for a passenger car with special features for off-road use such as 4WD;
  • 180km/h for any other passenger car;
  • 120km/h for any other motor vehicle not descrbed above; and
  • the vehicle’s top speed.

[ Source: Vicroads VSI 26 ]

————————————

The overall diameter of any tyre fitted to:

  • a 4WD passenger vehicle specifically designed for off-road use (MC ADR category other than a ‘soft roader’);
  • a 4WD goods vehicle and its 2WD equivalent if the chassis and running gear are essentially the same as the 4WD version (N ADR category); or
  • medium weight goods vehicle (NA2, NB ADR category);

must not be more than 50mm larger or 26mm smaller than that of any tyre designated by the vehicle manufacturer for that vehicle. Tyre diameters of a vehicle fitted with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) may be modified without certification provided it is not combined with any other lift (i.e tyre and suspension, tyre and body block, etc).

[ Source: Department of Transport and Main Roads, G19.6 released March 2014, updated Feb 2016 ]

————————————

4.2.4 Overall Nominal Diameter The overall diameter of any tyre fitted to a passenger car or passenger car derivative must not be more than 15mm larger or 26mm smaller than that of any tyre designated by the vehicle manufacturer for that model. The overall diameter of any tyre fitted to:

  • 4WD passenger vehicles specifically designed for off-road use (typically MC ADR category). All wheel drive (AWD) vehicles including those AWD vehicles that may be certified as MC ADR category, (also commonly known as soft roaders) are not included in this category;

[ Source: Section LS, Tyres, Rims, Suspension and Steering, VSB 14, NCOP Version 2.1 Nov 2015 ]

————————————

13.3 Raising of Four Wheel Drive Vehicles – Alternative to VSB 14 Modification Code LS

In the case of raising the height of an offroad type 4WD of ADR Categor NA, NB1, MC or MD, and only in this case, the following two options apply as alternatives to meeting the requirements of Section LS of VSB 14.

(the options are 75mm total lift, tyres and suspension, or 1/3 of suspenction travel and restrictions on tyre diameter)

[ Source: VSI 8 Guide to Modifications for Motor Vehicles ]

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Speed and load ratings The speed rating of all tyres must be at least:

  • for an off-road passenger vehicle – 140km/h
  • for another car (sedan, station wagon, etc.) with up to nine adult seating positions or a car derivative – 180km/h
  • for another motor vehicle – 120km/h
  • the vehicle’s top speed, if lower than the speeds referred to above

[ Source: Department of Transport and Main Roads, G19.6 released March 2014, updated Feb 2016 ]

 ————————————

The rules relating to tyres merit a specific mention. Ford say the Everest can do 175km/h, so naturally they fit tyres rated to above that speed to the vehicle – T and H rated, 190 and 210km/h respectively. This is very sensible, the right thing to do and in line with every other manufacturer.

However, offroad tyres are stronger (thicker) construction and are not typically rated for high speeds. Therefore, as 4WDs were developed a problem arose where 4WDs had top speeds the offroad tyres couldn’t handle, and the tyres became increasingly offroad-weak as they had to handle greater and greater heat dissipation. That is why every Australian road authority permits offroad vehicles (MC) to run N rated tyres, irrespective of the placard, in a very rare example of actual government thought and intelligent design on behalf of real-world users. So while the Everest’s top speed is 175km/h according to Ford, the road authorities allow you to fit N-rated tyres which are good only for 140km/h. Or would do, if it was a MC classed vehicle.

Some of the text in the excerpts above says that “typically” an offroader is MC, so there may be some wiggle room. However, wouldn’t it be nice to just have one less bit of red tape to worry about?

Offroad tyre
This is the sort of tyre you’d fit to your 4X4 if you want it to work in the bush. Light-truck (LT) construction, and an offroad pattern. The speed rating is Q, or 160km/h. That’s plenty, but if the placard on the car says T (190km/h) then you must run T, unless the vehicle is classifed as an offroader.

This is the problem you get when you make a good offroader like the Everest, people want to modify it with different wheels and tyres. That should be as easy as possible. Now while the Everest 4X4 is clearly an offroad vehicle, not having it officially recognised as such by the laws is not going to make modification compliance any easier, and the very last thing Aussie offroaders need is yet more pain, grief and red tape on top of the existing jungle of bizarrely-defined rubbish that is the Australian modification “laws”.  Most of us are just trying to do the right thing with mods – legal and safe. We’d like some help from the manufacturers, or at least not to make life harder than it needs to be.

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Everest++
Everest++
3 years ago

Thanks Robert for this post. It’s disappointing to hear that Ford have apparently decided to certify it as a passenger vehicle just to save a small amount of development cost given the consequences that has for all it’s customers who have purchased it in good faith that it is actually an off road vehicle (as per all the Ford advertising). I have posted links to your blog to a couple of Everest forums as I think this will be a significant concern for nearly all Everest owners.

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Everest++

It would appear the offroad-driving Everest community is not happy!

Everest++
Everest++
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper

Definitely not! How about Practical Motoring lead a campaign to get Ford to re-certify and do a recall and re-issue of the compliance plates? I expect it is purely a paperwork exercise for Ford to do the re-certification.

Phil
Phil
3 years ago
Reply to  Everest++

That would be great, and if they can’t or won’t

lead one for refunds for false advertisement.

EverestOwner
EverestOwner
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper

This is a disappointment for owners who placed trust in Ford Australia when marketing a new purpose built 4×4 “This isn’t a Territory replacement, this is building on the strengths of our Ranger and introducing features… to make it a capable vehicle” and no where in the product information in print, media, product launches or via their appointed franchised dealer network did they say “Please note: not certified under Australian Design rules as a 4WD vehicle, think of it as a softroader when justifying the price as we (Ford) speculate/make representations to the media that we consider our product a competitor to the Toyota Prado (MC certified)” let alone advise the implications for owners as regards registration, insurance coverage or ability to use “off road”.

The Ford line “we haven’t tested those modifications so can’t warrant them” is understandable. The offers of extended warranty at user pays prices is an issue, pay more for the privilege of exclusion from warranty claims because of modifications made to use the vehicle otherwise than in a woolies car park in Toorak or Double Bay is an issue.

Paul King
Paul King
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper

Hi Robert

AS Everest owners and Ford customers it may surprise you to know Ford have stated they will not even respond to us re this issue unless we write to them formally. Seems being a customer is not a good enough reason for Ford to hold a dialogue with you.

Do you think Ford would talk to you about this? Also how did you find out about this issue, who told you?

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul King

Ford already stated their position to us which is in the article – it was easier for them to do MA so they cover 4X2 and 4X4 in one go.

We have sought follow-up comment in light of the owner concern (aware of the FB thread etc) but no response as yet.

I found out after investigating prompted by a off chance comment on a Reader Help article. I was aware of the MC/MA categories, but every time I’d checked over the years every car was MC so it wasn’t something I’d check every time. Now it will be!

Stand by for a full list of MC/MA-offroad vehicles in another article.

Phil
Phil
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper

The whole thing is misleading via deceptive marketing tactics, who would know other than ford that you can in fact register under passenger vehicle classification and sell/Promote as a off-road 4wd, There marketing has pushed towards off-road use than any of there apparent competitors yet they neglected to tell any one the Everest is not even in the same classification,

EverestOwner
EverestOwner
3 years ago
Reply to  Everest++

Robert,

Thank you very much for the information you have unearthed. I was the poster of the original question regarding tyre choice for Titanium which started this whole saga. I am atypical in being the original owner to venture off-road when ownership statistics show it is normally the 2nd or 3rd owner that actually uses 4×4 capabilities.

The MC / MA certification has created a storm in the forum / facebook land. A lot of owners have already modified their vehicles under the MC rules, particularly fitting larger tyre combinations and lift kits and the lack of clarity from Ford is of particular concern. Now they have justifiable concerns about registration compliance, insurance coverage and other knock on consequences of making decisions that at the time seemed perfectly in accordance with the rules.

Given that this has been missed by all in the press at launch, during Car of the Year reviews and subsequent long term tests (not necessarily a critique as this information is very technical, opaque and well hidden from general view) it re-inforces buyer beware but also reduces the trust customers can place in Ford Australia’s representations.

Ford Australia when doing press releases seek to push positive messages about their product, something I can understand and appreciate. Social media is anything but a place to discuss technical fine points but sound grabs, twitter posts and 30 second sales videos are the normal. Ford place high reliance on social media presence but this looks to me to be about managing messages as positive, not actually representing the truth. (naive I know to insist on truthfulness from a firm asking someone to spend $75,000+ on purchasing their vehicle). Best feedback they provide is talk to your dealer who knows nothing of this detail as there is little chance of Ford having advised dealers of the MC / MA certification outcomes or indeed the implications of such a decision.

This is not a happy experience for owners that could (are on the forums) concerned about misrepresentation. I for one will be very honest about the vehicle if asked by my circle of influence, it is a Toorak Tractor and shouldn’t be viewed as anything else and certainly not a proper 4×4 vehicle with an inappropriate price to go with it. Guess the sales figures of the vehicle (poor so far) will further reflect these poor outcomes.

Keep up the good work in publishing…

Phil
Phil
3 years ago

Very disappointed, we feel mislead and ripped off, we purchased our trend as a long term off-road tourer and now that’s all been put to bed, we would never of purchased it knowing it was not classified as an off-road vehicle, what about insurance at a guess you can kiss that good by on 4wd tracks.
If ford do not fix this we will not be keeping it and really don’t think it is fair we should wear any lost $ ?

how can FORD advertise it as an off-road vehicle ? Surly they can’t get away with this

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil

I doubt insurance would be affected as nowhere in any policy I have seen, 4WD-specific or otherwise, does it describe the nature of the vehicle to be insured. Also, the capability of the Everest is unchanged, it’s still a great offroader.

EverestOwner
EverestOwner
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pepper

Except that on checking with insurance company on coverage the advice is “because the vehicle is no longer classified as an off-road vehicle, the insurance company (may at it’s discretion) deny a claim that occurs in an off-road situation… Great position, take it off-road, damage it and you may be left uninsured. Exceptional result!

Phil
Phil
3 years ago
Reply to  EverestOwner

Correct, I called my insurer and they can reserve the right to state improper car use but that’s there decision given the circumstances, as for my landcruiser it’s clear cut any marked track Australia wide I’m covered

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Phil

Have a look at your Product Disclosure Statement – it will be on the company’s website. It usually says the vehicle must be roadworthy. The main issue insurers have is not knowing what you do with the vehicle, and that goes whether it’s MA or MC. They also want to know you operate the car within its designed limits.

Benn0
Benn0
3 years ago
Reply to  EverestOwner

I also wonder if the use of offroad tyres or other mods (not compliant for MA vehiles) on a car that has had an accident onroad may give the insurer an out.

Andrew Wedlake
Andrew Wedlake
3 years ago

As a Ford Everest owner I am extremely disappointed by this and have written to Ford requesting a full refund on the vehicle. The Everest should not be 4×4 of the year as it is not a 4×4 according to Ford.

NothappyJan
NothappyJan
3 years ago

How does a car not certified as a 4WD under Australian Design rules win 4WD of the year? Good luck to anyone doing desert tracks etc with HT180kmph rated tyres as required to comply with MA designation.

dave
dave
3 years ago

The Everest should be just as capable as a standard Ranger off road. It’s basically a Ranger platform but with a wagon body and coil rear suspension. The same problem exists with many other brands of SUV’s with tyre and rim specs that dont legally allow appropriate off road tyre and rim combinations and suspension lifts due to their MA classification or the limits of their ESC systems. Driving alongside a new Jeep Cherokee in a sand dune park a few weeks ago it was having nothing but trouble getting stuck all the time as it’s classification and design doesn’t allow adequate tyre/rim and suspension mods to do the job capablely.

Benn0
Benn0
3 years ago
Reply to  dave

It may be as capable, but the issue is compliance. I’m not sure of the category for the Cherokee, I would have thought the trailhawk version would be MC. It has higher clearance and approach/departure than the regular cherokee, remembering that the car has to have certain clearance specs to be able to get the MC approval. It is very confusing that if the Ranger is given category MC, why Ford wouldn’t have used the same category for the wagon version of the ute.

Andrew Wedlake
Andrew Wedlake
3 years ago

To all Everest owners. Head over to the Facebook page “Ford Everest Club Australia” to be involved in a joint petition to Ford to recify this

Monty
Monty
3 years ago

Ford Australia has a poor reputation in Australia. I owned Fords for 20 years and the vehicles have been fine. Ford lost the plot and they lost me as a customer.

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

Technically, you would be rightly justified in getting a refund for the vehicle if you wish. It is not fit for purpose.
It is advertised as a 4×4 and even Ford demonstrate it as being a 4×4, however it is not classified as such.

Mischa
Mischa
3 years ago

Just a quick question regarding the speed rating issue… If the tyre placard states say 112T, then any deviation smaller than that in the speed rating, say an S, would be deemed illegal under the MA classification?? Even though the S speed rating is still rated at the 180km/h which is passenger vehicle, because the tyre placard in the car states a T rating, you can’t put anything lower than that on?? Thanks.

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Mischa

Hi Mischa. The Everest’s top speed is 175km/h, so Ford must fit tyres rated to a speed greater than 175km/h, and they have chosen T rated or 190km/h. The law is very clear; any replacement tyres must match or exceed the manufacturer’s speed (and load) rating, so yes, S is illegal.

However, there is an exemption for offroad vehicles which can run N rated, or 140km/h tyres because offroad tyres don’t have high speed ratings. The exact wording of this exemption varies, but generally includes reference to the MC classification….there’s a reason MC exists and all offroaders are not lumped into MA, and it’s for exactly this sort of issue.

It may be possible to argue the Everest, albeit MA which specifically says “not an offroad vehicle”, acutally *is* an offroad vehicle and therefore should also have the exemption, but it’s a bit of extra grief that really should have been avoided in the first place by Ford classifying the vehicle correctly.

toyota owner
toyota owner
3 years ago

this is an interesting read. When I was in the market in the last 12 months for a new car I strongly considered the Everest against a Toyota (Fortuner and Prado). I had not owned either brands before. I was told at the time the Everest was better and Toyota was running on a perceived reputation only which had long expired and the reliability aura no longer existed. Journalists seemed to agree with Everest winning their “coveted” awards. 12 months on it just goes to show it takes a lifetime to build a good reputation and 5 minutes to ruin one. Toyota now appears solid as a rock once again and Ford letting their customers down. Lets not even go into the Everest catching fire. Thankful I bought the Toyota. I would be very disappointed if I bought the Everest.

Lucy
Lucy
3 years ago

Hi, I am currently looking to purchase a new 4WD and was considering the Everest as Toyota have been eliminated from the running due to their front seats not extending back very much. I have a 13 month old Toyota which my 17 year old son can no longer fit his legs in comfortably, (they’re hitting the dash) not to mention how dangerous this is for him driving. He’s tall but only 6’5″. Very disappointed with Toyota for this. The only 4X4 that have leg room are the Everest, the Jeep and the Isuzu. From reading this insightful article, my understanding is only the Isuzu is really rated as a 4X4?? We require a real Off Roader. Thanks for the article. Have a wonderful day 🙂

Katie K
Katie K
3 years ago

Hi All,
I’ve been looking into getting a Ford Everest and stumbled across this article. Was a little surprised and disappointed to find this out so did another google search. Just discovered that the 4WD variant of the Everest is now being re-classified in some states. http://www.caradvice.com.au/508685/ford-everest-reclassified-from-passenger-vehicle-to-four-wheel-drive-ma-to-mc-confirmed-after-owner-backlash/
Hope this helps

Robert Pepper
3 years ago
Reply to  Katie K

Hello Katie K. We know, we broke the story and it was picked up by quite a few others after some delay while they took time to understand the issue. HAVAL and Jeep have also done the same.

https://practicalmotoring.com.au/car-news/ford-everest-4×4-reclassified-mc-offroad-passenger-vehicle/

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper