The Ford Everest SUV will be significantly different to the Ranger ute it is based on.
CarAdvice can reveal the Everest will not only sport a unique exterior, but also an all-new interior developed at Ford Australia's design centre at Campbellfield.
Ford Australia presented the Everest as a concept at its Go Further presentation at Sydney’s Fox Studios this week. The seven-seat SUV will go on sale globally, including Australia, in 2015.
It will share at least one diesel engine with the Ranger, the 3.2-litre five-cylinder, although engineers are working to make it more refined so it matches SUV customer expectations.
The Ranger’s front suspension has been retained, but the rear suspension has been ‘altered’ according to a Ford source, which could mean a re-jig of the existing leaf spring set-up, or most likely, a unique independent coil spring setup for improved ride comfort.
CarAdvice can confirm the Everest will not replace the Ford Territory, but initially sit above it in Ford’s rapidly expanding SUV line up.
The Territory will continue on until the end of 2016, when local Ford production ceases. Ford Australia is keeping mum on the vehicle that will replace the Territory, but CarAdvice understands it will be a globally available SUV similar in size to the Territory.
The next generation of the currently US-only Edge is the most likely contender, along with the larger Explorer.
The Everest is being developed by largely the same Australian team that was responsible for the award-winning Ranger ute, although Mazda engineers are not involved this time around as the SUV is exclusive to Ford.
It has been benchmarked against other full-size SUVs based on workhorse trucks, but is not as closely related as some are to their donor vehicles, as is the case with the Holden Colorado 7 and Nissan Pathfinder (based on the D40 Navara).
Ford Australia’s designers were assigned complete responsibility for shaping the exterior and interior of the Everest in 2010 after finishing the bulk of the design work for the Ranger.
Design team member David Dewitt told CarAdvice the Everest would have a more sophisticated interior design than the Ranger (below).
“Philosophically, the Ranger and the SUV, they cross, but they are very different products,” he said.
“When you are doing a truck, you are thinking about functionality above anything else. One thing I learned designing the Ranger is that function is very important to truck buyers.”
It is a different case with the Everest SUV, Dewitt said.
“I think function is very important to SUV buyers as well, but it is a different space, SUV buyers are looking for something more premium, more sophisticated, more refined.”
The exterior was also shaped with considerable emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency.
Ford Motor Company chief operating officer Mark Fields said presenting the Everest concept at the Go Further event was the “perfect opportunity to put an exclamation point on why Ford Australia matters”.
He said the Everest should perform strongly in Australia, given the expanding seven-seat SUV market.
Fields told CarAdvice that Ford would have a direct replacement for the Territory that would cover the needs of current buyers.
“When you step back and look at the platforms that we have, we will have a solution for that,” Fields said.
“When you look at the success of the Territory and the ingredients for that, we are going to make sure that whatever we will we build upon it.”
Fields said Ford’s top brass had not yet discussed whether the Territory name would be retained for the vehicle that will replace it.