Ford Everest 2018 ambiente (4wd 5 seat)
launch-review

2019 Ford Everest review

Australian first drive

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The 2019 Ford Everest update is minor, for the most part. But an optional new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine matched with a 10-speed auto, shared with the Ranger Raptor, is a big addition. As a package it remains a market leader, if you can afford the premium it commands...
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Sales of the Ford Everest have been steadily growing after a slow start, as buyers catch on to its virtues. Now this Australian-engineered SUV has received a mid-cycle upgrade that broadens the range and caters for more potential buyers.

There’s a new grille and lower front bumper, though it looks scarcely different, and added some features across the three-variant range, led by the fitment of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection on all but the base model, and push-button start.

The big news, though, is the engine. One of the most hyped cars of the moment is Ford’s Ranger Raptor sports ute, and the MY19 Everest range now shares that car’s 157kW/500Nm, 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel unit and 10-speed automatic transmission.

That’s one part bound to raise a few eyebrows, especially those belonging to people who still adhere to the notion that engine displacement and cylinder count are the main things. That’s why Ford has retained the existing 143kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder as well.

Three Everest spec levels remain available, kicking off with the Ambiente in both four-wheel drive (4WD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) forms, with either five or seven seats. Because this is the ‘workhorse’ version, it sticks with the 3.2-litre diesel engine only.

Next is the seven-seat-only Trend model in RWD/4WD, which is by far the top-selling model, and which is available with both engine options. Finally there’s the Titanium range-topper, which is 4WD and 2.0 ‘Bi-Turbo’ only.

Prices are up marginally across the range, too, and it’s not as if the Everest was particularly cheap before. The Ambiente kicks off at $49,190 before on-road costs (up $1200), the Trend starts at $56,190 and the Titanium tops out at a steep $73,990 including LCT.

That’s Toyota Prado and Jeep Grand Cherokee territory, meaning the Ford has a substantial premium over conceptually similar (ute-based) offerings such as the Isuzu MU-X, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Holden Trailblazer.

Ford has added some new equipment to the Ambiente, including a proximity key fob and starter button, a laminated acoustic windscreen, ‘Ebony’ cabin plastics, a 10-speaker audio system with an amp and DAB+ digital radio, and satellite navigation on an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The Trend gets features not on the MY18 model, such as HID headlights with auto-levelling, LED daytime running lights, an electric tailgate that can be activated with a kicking motion, leather seats, the aforementioned AEB, and Traffic Sign Recognition.

The luxo Titanium gets additional features such as new-look 20-inch alloy wheels on road tyres, though you can opt for 18-inch wheels and a revised suspension package instead, and a factory tow bar.

For a deeper dive in the Everest's features and kit, head over to our pricing and specs story.

The cabin’s design and feel apes the Ranger ute with which the Everest shares its running gear/‘T6’ architecture. It’s more modern than the MU-X, but, for city slickers, the new Hyundai Santa Fe – to name but one example – feels more car-like and upmarket.

Granted, it looks pretty swish, with a large touchscreen and a pair of digital instrument displays at eye level, and storage bins scattered all over the place. The Titanium’s big panoramic sunroof and heated leather seats give it a bit of a ‘luxury SUV’ feel.

On the other hand, there are plenty of low-rent cabin plastics that betray the Everest’s more utilitarian origins, and no telescopic steering-wheel adjustment for the unusually-proportioned folks among us – though I got comfortable quickly.

The back seats are supportive, and come with ISOFIX/conventional child-seat attachment points. The bench splits, each portion slides on rails, and reclines. There are full-length airbags, a flip-down armrest, and you also get rear temperature controls (for the great roof-mounted circular air vents), and a 230V powerpoint behind the console.

Access to the third row on seven-seat models is relatively simple for teenagers, though this is a high-riding car with heaps of clearance, meaning little kids may need a boost. The third-row seats fold neatly flat to increase the cargo area. It’s certainly bigger and more practical than the Pajero Sport or a Toyota Fortuner.

Like the Ranger, the Everest was developed by Ford Australia’s engineers at the famous You Yangs proving ground. And like the ute, it’s the most comfortable, quiet and cosseting car in its class, handling local conditions with aplomb, soaking up hits and proving easy to drive thanks to its low-resistance electric-assisted steering.

The Trend and Titanium also lend themselves to long touring, thanks to standard active cruise control and lane-departure warning.

Off-roaders note, the permanent 4x4 Everest gives you four modes that fettle the throttle calibration and stability control depending on surfaces, plus low-range reduction gearing and a rear locking diff. It’s a match for a Prado off the beaten path, or most other rivals, which you can explore here in our detailed video from a few years back.

The MY19 versions get a new front stabliser bar package, allowing softer suspension to further improve ride comfort without stuffing up the handling/body control through corners. It’s also a few decibels quieter, with the existing noise-cancelling tech (like your expensive headphones have) and acoustic windscreen joined by the quieter new engine.

That engine, then. It’s got 14kW and 30Nm over the 3.2-litre despite having 1200cc less displacement and one less cylinder. It belies its size thanks to two sequential Borg Warner turbos linked by a bypass valve, one for lower engine speeds and another for higher.

It’s certainly quieter and smoother than the 3.2, and has a noticeable wave of torque that easily hauls the Everest up hills. Peak torque of 500Nm kicks in at 1750rpm, just above idle, and the 10 AT’s closer ratio spread keeps the engine in this ‘sweet spot’ better.

The transmission proved pretty smooth, 90 per cent of the time, though there was the odd hint of driveline shunt and fussiness in traffic. The Sports mode holds lower gears longer, and even aggressively downshifts when hitting corners.

Another upside of the engine is its fuel use, which is about 20 per cent better than the 3.2-litre at 7.1L/100km for the 4x4, helped by the switchable stop/start system.

We were also lucky enough to quickly tow a heavy caravan up some long, steep hills outside Wollongong in the Bi-Turbo, and found it… okay. It was a serious test, and it held its speed without a run-up, though the engine temperature did increase and the fuel use touched 18L/100km.

That’s despite the 2.0-litre having a 3.1 tonne braked-trailer towing capacity compared to the 3.2-litre’s 3.0t maximum. We’re planning on doing a more extensive towing test – meaning we'll go easy for the time-being – once we get the car on our terms.

Nevertheless, in most user cases, the refined and punchy Bi-Turbo absolutely doesn’t feel like an engine this small. The five-cylinder remains to assuage the doubters, and may still appeal to others who regularly tow, even if the benefit is mostly psychological. There’s also the small matter of the bigger engine’s $1200 smaller price!

If Ford hadn’t taken this dual-engine path it would have spelled trouble, just as it did when Nissan ditched the 4.2 six-cylinder Patrol diesel in favour of the 3.0-litre four-pot diesel Y61 way back in the day – at the time causing a storm, that has now totally normalised.

Don’t forget, Ford now offers a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty as standard on all its cars, with roadside assist. The company is slowly improving what was once a less-than-perfect customer experience, something it will concede was a reality.

So, there’s a quick look at the MY19 Ford Everest. It’s still worth a premium over its fellow ute-based SUVs, and stacks up in most ways against the Prado or Grand Cherokee, though the Titanium’s steep asking price is pretty hard to stomach.

By adding a Bi-Turbo engine, Ford now has a more refined diesel seven-seat SUV that might appeal to some more adventurous families out there, and it’s certainly more at home than many competitors in handling urban duties. The fact is, this update adds much more choice for buyers, and that can only be a good thing.

Keep an eye out for more detailed Everest content once these vehicles hit the press fleet in the coming weeks, including a video on the top-selling Trend with the new Bi-Turbo engine.

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