Ford Australia is currently developing the still-secret ute-based sports utility vehicle, which could be called Everest or Endeavour and follows the local car maker’s successful project to develop the Ranger ute for global markets.
A Mazda source at the 2012 Paris motor show revealed that the company turned down an offer from Ford to have a second twin based on the Ranger ‘T6’ platform that also sits beneath the BT-50.
“We looked at the global market and weren’t convinced there was a great demand for a seven-seater, ute-based SUV,” said the Mazda source.
“Mazda also already covers the seven-seater SUV area with the CX-9.”
The Mazda insider says the company got as far as design sketches for the SUV as it considered whether to give a green light to the project or not.
The ute-based SUV market is currently occupied by the likes of the Challenger and Nissan Pathfinder, but will be joined next year by the Holden Colorado 7 (pictured below) and followed by the Ford competitor.
CarAdvice understands Mazda Australia was instrumental in the decision to bypass the big SUV. Australia would have been one of the key markets for a potential SUV.
Ford’s large, five-door SUV would be expected to be built in the same Thailand plant as the Ranger (pictured above), and made available worldwide.
The same drivetrains as offered in the Ranger are also likely, meaning 2.5-litre petrol, 2.2-litre turbo diesel and 3.2-litre turbo diesel, along with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive.
The Ford Ranger is one of the best utes to drive in the segment, though Ford Australia’s Broadmeadows engineering team is likely to further tweak the SUV’s underpinnings for improved road manners.
The new SUV would give Ford Australia a back-up seven-seater if production of the locally produced Ford Territory comes to a halt in 2016.
Ford has only committed to building the Falcon-based Territory, along with its donor large car, to 2016.