Ford Australia proudly discussed the improving sales of its Everest SUV last week, though it still has some work to do to meet the volumes of some key rivals.
The Australian-developed Everest - which uses the Ranger's 'T6' architecture with substantial overhauling - posted a record July result this year, "on the back of a wider line-up and greater model choice for Australian buyers".
Ford Australia sold 456 Everests in July, miles better than the 291 sold in July '16. Outperforming the wider segment’s 2.5 per cent growth figure, the Everest has posted an 18 per cent increase so far in 2017.
The 2017 Everest range includes a new $47,990 Ambiente RWD model, price cuts of up to $2000 to existing versions, and standard Sync 3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the range, on an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen.
Given that value-for-money was considered the Everest's weak point at launch, the resonance of the upgrades should be pleasing.
However, make no mistake: the Everest still has some way to go to catch rivals. Ford has sold 2576 units this year, compared to 9874 for what it considers to be the greatest rival - Toyota's Prado. Big gap.
More accurately, similar ute-based rivals such as the upgraded, no-frills Isuzu MU-X (4397, up almost 10 per cent) and value-focused Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (4210, up 31 per cent) are still ahead. Even the ancient Mitsubishi Pajero is only 100 units behind the Ford.
On the plus side, Ford has bragging rights over the Holden Trailblazer (1839) and Toyota Fortuner (1471, down 46.5 per cent and living in the HiLux's and Prado's lengthy shadows).
Beyond the Everest, 2017 has been a mixed bag for Ford - which is fifth in-market on 46,975 units, wedged between a declining Holden and a strong Mitsubishi that's up 7 per cent thanks to dealer incentives and sharp pricing.
The Ford Ranger is number one in 4x4 ute sales and in the top-three vehicles overall YTD alongside the HiLux and Toyota Corolla, with a total of 24,714 units (more than half of Ford's total).
The Mustang is also ridiculously successful, managing 5967 sales this year thanks to freer supply, up more than 90 per cent and now Ford's second most popular vehicle overall.
The new Escape is tracking slightly ahead of where its Kuga predecessor was, while the revamped MY17 Transit van range is slightly up. Ditto the Focus (3690) and Mondeo (1863).
Down are the Fiesta (minus 38 per cent to 1058, with no sign of the new MY18 model yet), axed Territory (clearing stocks, with 1641 units, down 61 per cent), the EcoSport (down 23 per cent to 880) and the Falcon, now dead (259 sedans and utes have found homes this year, with about 25 left in dealer stock before they're all gone).
Good signs, but work left to do...