The new Australian-designed and engineered Ford Everest was seen in Healesville and was believed to be undergoing cold-weather testing. The car clearly replicates the design cues of the concept version of the Everest that debuted in August (pictured below).
It's not first time the Ford SUV has been spied undergoing local testing - a CarAdvice reader spied a mule during on-road testing in Melbourne in May 2013 - but the latest shots indicate that progress is being made for the seven-seat SUV model, which is an extension of the T6 project that initially created the Ranger ute that was released in 2011.
As with the Ranger, the Everest SUV will be built in Thailand. It will compete with fellow ute-based SUVs, such as the Holden Colorado 7 (based on Colorado) and Isuzu MU-X (based on D-Max), though unlike those two models, the Ranger-based SUV will not be as closely related to its donor utility vehicle.
As with earlier spy shots, it is clear that behind the alloy wheels fitted to this test car there are rear disc brakes that replace the ute’s drum brakes. While it is hard to tell from the rear-on picture, it could be that the rear suspension has changed from leaf springs to a more sophisticated independent rear suspension system to improve the SUV's handling and ride comfort.
The Ford Everest is expected to go on sale in Australia in 2015 where it will join the EcoSport, Kuga and Territory in the brand’s SUV line-up. The Territory is expected to be replaced by the Canadian-built Edge when local production ceases in 2016.