Mick and Keith really could have been automotive marketers: if they saw a red door, they wanted it painted black. The same goes for chrome trim, alloy wheels and bumper valances – but not much rhymes with valance.
The 2020 Ford Everest Sport is another in a long and unwavering line of darkened special editions which offer little more than their shiny counterparts, other than a ‘Stones approved message of simply, paint it black.
Slotting in between the Trend and Titanium, the Everest Sport is priced from $62,490 (before options and on-road costs) for the familiar 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel, or like our car, add another $1500 (to $63,990) for the 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder powerplant.
The $2000 premium over the Trend (in either engine configuration) sees the addition of black 20-inch wheels, a stylish new black grille, front, rear and tailgate trim in black, as well as roof rails in… ebony. Well played, Ford.
You score the requisite special-edition stickers, new LED headlights (with black inserts) and Range Rover-style raised E V E R E S T badging on the bonnet, which actually looks quite good.
Inside there is blue stitching on the seats and dashboard, and some neat ‘Raceway Blue’ trim panels to tie it all together. You can have your ‘Sport in one of five colours, including the hero ‘Deep Crystal Blue’ or like our car in ‘Meteor Grey’.
The rest of the car is in line with the 2020-spec Trend, which means a long list of standard equipment. From the 8.0-inch SYNC 3 touch screen infotainment system, with a DAB tuner, native navigation and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to the full suite of driver assistance technology including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistant and speed-sign recognition; it’s fair to say the big Everest doesn’t miss out on much.
Except a sunroof. You have to spend $8800 more on a Titanium to get one of them. Mick did suggest he wanted to see the sun blotted out from the sky, I suppose…
There is more to the Ford than a brochure checklist though. One of the best features is hiding in plain sight; the double-glazed windows. These combined with an active noise cancellation system make the cabin of the Everest Sport extremely quiet, even at touring speeds.
Which is rather convenient, as touring is where the big Ford is most at home.
On the open road, the 157kW / 500Nm 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel and ten-speed automatic transmission relax into a low RPM cruise that returns a highway fuel consumption figure in the low 6’s (6.2L/100km on test – against 6.1L/100km claim).
The adaptive cruise works well, the seats are comfortable, there’s enough cup holders to go around and the 10-speaker stereo can punch out your Bluetooth playlists or even spin that Rolling Stones ‘Best Of’ CD you scored for Kris Kringle back in 2002.
Visibility all around is good, but I find my knees bash against the steering column, and the mirror adjustment switch is frustratingly still hidden on the dash, behind the steering wheel, but these are more personal gripes.
Middle-row occupants are kept comfortable too. There’s an AC power outlet as well as a 12-volt plug and temperature controls for the roof-mounted vents. You get plenty of legroom, plus the bench slides and folds in a 60:40 split. Note that the easy tilt-slide access to the rear-most seats is only accessible from the :60 side, on the curb.
Further back, and while it starts to get a little more cozy, the third row still has vents and cup holders, and kept my 10-year-old happy for a couple of short trips. There’s a small but usable 450-litre boot with all seven pews in play (floor to ceiling), that expands to 1050 litres to with the third row stowed or 2010 litres with rows two and three folded away flat.
It’s a great family machine, and as I’ve said, is very happy when eating up the miles, but sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with the urban sprawl – and it is here the more complex 10-speed driveline isn’t quite so cheery.
Running about dealing with everyday urban duties, and it feels as though the transmission is never in the gear you need. The economy profile slips into the highest possible ratio, meaning any burst of acceleration needs a change of two or three cogs, causing a delay in your required delivery of oomph.
As a result, the 2.0-litre engine feels light on torque, which it isn’t. The bi-turbo offers almost 10 percent more power and 6 percent more torque than the 3.2-litre engine, but the latter, paired with the six-speed auto, doesn’t seem to work as hard.
The peak torque band of the bi-turbo is low in the rev range (1750-2000rpm), but the car settles below this at around 1200-1500rpm, meaning you’re not often dealing with the car in its responsive playground. It can be frustrating if a bit of hustle is what you’re after, especially when looking for gaps in traffic.
Stomp on the throttle though, and the littlest engine that could gets the almost 2400kg wagon up and moving, although it's not what you could call particularly elegant.
Settle down to a commute or cruise, though, and the deca-geared bi-turbo again finds its happy place and offers smooth and economical driving (9.2L/100km combined on test against 7.0L/100km claim). It almost encourages you to leave the ‘burbs behind and hit the highway. So I did.
Transferring from patchy urban to patchier regional roads is all managed comfortably. Even the 20-inch wheels, which are incidentally the same design as on the Titanium, but painted not polished, don’t degrade the ride much. Switch onto a dirtier surface and the Everest perhaps feels even more confident.
Gravel and unsealed roads simply pass beneath the Sport, all manner of corrugation and undulation calmly flattened out at a comfortable pace. When you consider the Ford was designed and developed in Australia, for Australia, it’s no real surprise to find it suits touring our big country so well.
Should the going get even rougher, you have the flexibility of the terrain response 4WD system at your fingertips, although we didn’t even need to engage the front wheels for the light-duty off-road work on our test. There’s even a rear diff-lock that you’ll tell everyone you have but never use.
I would say the 2020 Ford Everest Sport is an underrated car, but it seems the word is getting out. For 2019, the Toyota Prado outsold the big Ford by a factor of 3.5 to 1. So far this year, the Toyota is still ahead, but only 2.5 times the sales of the Everest.
It’s a well-rounded package, and an excellent tourer. The ‘Stones saw the future of a ‘line of cars and they’re all painted black’, although Mick did gloss over the fact you seem to pay a bit too much for all that dark paint.
The 2020 Ford Everest Sport looks the part but the value equation still favours the Trend – we’d push for parity pricing when you’re looking at doing a deal, and make sure you test drive both engine variants to ensure you choose the one that suits your driving conditions.