The Ford Everest is one of 2016’s most anticipated new cars.
A global seven-seat SUV designed and engineered in Australia, it takes the toughness of the Ranger ute on which it based and aims to inject a level of family friendliness.
We’ve come to the jungles of Thailand — where the Everest is being built — to see how Ford’s rival for the Toyota Prado and Isuzu MU-X stacks up.
The Everest goes on sale in Australia in October, and will be available in three specification levels starting at $54,990, climbing to a whopping $76,990 for the top-spec Titanium.
That will make it Ford Australia’s most expensive new car.
Ford Australia calls this car a centrepiece of its nearly $2 billion R&D investment in Australia over past six years.
Stylistically, the Everest takes after the rugged Ranger, making it one of the tougher-looking SUVs out there. Under the skin, though, it gets more car-like and comfortable suspension, while inside it gets active noise cancellation technology.
Nevertheless, Ford says the Everest will also be among the most off-road capable SUVs in its class — certainly more than soft-roaders like its own Territory.
It gets four-wheel drive, an electronic locking rear differential, and a four-mode Terrain Management System as standard.
You also get a decent maximum water wading depth of 800mm, 225mm of ground clearance, and approach, ramp-over and departure angles up there with the class-leaders.
Under the bonnet is the Ranger’s familiar five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 143kW — 4kW fewer than the Ranger — and 470 Newton metres, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The three-tonne towing capacity is 500kg less than a Ranger too, but it beats the Prado. It remains a potent and punchy engine with plenty of low-down urge, though there’s still a rough edge to it.
The Everest’s equipment list includes a host of features normally reserved for premium passenger cars, though many will require customers to dig into their wallets for the Trend and Titanium variants.
Features available inside the newly designed cabin include automated parking assist, power-folding third row seats, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and an electric tailgate.
Mid and top level variants get a Sync 2 infotainment system with 8.0-inch colour touchscreen and digital radio. Sat-nav only comes standard on the flagship model, though you can option it for $600 on the mid-level version.
All variants come with a reversing camera and seven airbags.
All told the cabin is relatively spacious and comfortable, and the driving position means you dominate the road. But the fact it resembles that of the newly updated Ranger means it can’t quite hide its ute origins either.
So, there’s a quick look at the new Ford Everest. It’s a tough and good-looking off-roader that feels a cut above the likes of the MU-X — though it’d want to, given its price.
You can read the written review linked below to get our detailed first impressions, and we’ll also bring you more video once it arrives in Australia in a few months time.