Why the Ford Everest has a major mountain to climb even though it’s a very capable four-wheel drive


Australians love four-wheel drives and utes but not, it seems, four-wheel drives based on a ute.

The Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes routinely top the monthly sales charts as their less well-known siblings struggle.

The majority of cars sold in Australia are also SUVs with the heavy-duty Toyota LandCruiser and soft-roaders like the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 regularly making the top 10.

But ute-based SUVs in between are hardly racing out of the showroom, even if they are better for towing than most SUVs and can readily tackle muddy tracks and steep inclines – or rocky declines.

Ford is hoping to change that with the latest Australian-designed Everest, which shares a platform with the new Ranger – the first all-new shape since 2011. 

 

Australians love four-wheel drives and utes but not, it seems, four-wheel drives based on a ute.  Ford is hoping to change that with the latest Australian-designed Everest. The range-topping $77,690 Platinum (pictured) aims for a refined look with a ‘satin’ instead of a chrome finish on the grille. It shares a platform with the new Ranger – the first all-new shape since 2011

Ford’s Melbourne-based design manager Nick Eterovic purposely styled the front of the Everest to resemble the Australian-engineered Ranger ute it is based on.

But despite the Everest's resemblance to the ute - sharing the same C-shaped headlights - it doesn't quite look as tough as the Ranger (Sport model pictured) with its different sculpted lower section and more diagonal lines

But despite the Everest’s resemblance to the ute – sharing the same C-shaped headlights – it doesn’t quite look as tough as the Ranger (Sport model pictured) with its different sculpted lower section and more diagonal lines

The range-topping $77,690 Platinum aims for a refined look with a ‘satin’ instead of a chrome finish on the grille while the $69,090 Sport model has a striking black grille, black door handles and black alloy wheels.

But despite the Everest’s resemblance to the ute – sharing the same C-shaped headlights – it doesn’t quite look as tough as the Ranger with its more aggressively sculpted front.

That’s part of the problem for the Everest: it subtly lacks that tough, adventurous presence that makes its better-looking ute sibling much more appealing.  

The Australian-designed, Thai-built Everest, priced from $52,990, is the second generation for Australian motorists and is the first new shape since 2015.

Like the Ranger, it is built on the third-generation T6 platform, can tow 3.5 tonnes and is very capable on the dirt, as a Daily Mail Australia test drive in Brisbane showed.

Ford's Melbourne-based design manager Nick Eterovic purposely styled the front of the Everest to resemble the Australian-engineered Ranger ute it is based on. The $69,090 Sport model (pictured) has a striking black grille, black door handles and black alloy wheels

Ford’s Melbourne-based design manager Nick Eterovic purposely styled the front of the Everest to resemble the Australian-engineered Ranger ute it is based on. The $69,090 Sport model (pictured) has a striking black grille, black door handles and black alloy wheels

But the Everest, unlike its 4×4 ute sibling, will most likely have a hard job climbing the sales mountain as buyers wait up to nine months for an all-new Ranger – which can do the same job with a tray and double up as a tradie special.

Australians embrace utes but not their SUV siblings in 2022

FORD EVEREST: 6,004 sales

FORD RANGER: 25,008 sales

TOYOTA FORTUNER: 3,259 sales

TOYOTA HILUX: 33,022 sales

MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: 6,185 sales

MITSUBISHI TRITON: 18,308 sales

ISUZU MU-X: 7,017 sales

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries sales data covering January to August 2022 

Between January and August, just 6,004 Everests were sold compared with 25,008 for the Ranger, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data showed.

Ford isn’t the only manufacturer of a popular ute struggling to sell the ute-based SUV version.

Toyota has sold just 3,259 Fortuners compared with 33,022 HiLuxes so far this year.

It was a similar story for Mitsubishi which in 2022 has sold just 6,185 of the Pajero Sport, previously known as the Challenger, but 18,308 Triton utes.

During the same peroid, Isuzu sold 7,017 of the MU-X four-wheel drive but 13,747 D-MAX utes sharing the same platform.

Australians after an SUV are clearly going for the car-like, soft-roader with Toyota this year selling 25,292 of the RAV4 as Mazda sold 18,685 of the CX-5.

Ford’s attempt at selling four-wheel drives in Australia has been a qualified success.

From 1991 to 1997, it tried with the Raider, a 4×4 wagon based on the old Courier ute with a canopy over the back but gave up and tried selling the American Explorer instead.

Toyota during that era had a 4Runner based on a HiLux but sales were so slow the ute-based four-wheel drive was dumped in 1996 in favour of the LandCruiser Prado which became a sales success story.

Daily Mail Australia tested the Everest - in Ambiente, Trend (pictured), Sport and Platinum models - and the Ranger Raptor at the Mount Sirromet winery in Brisbane

Daily Mail Australia tested the Everest – in Ambiente, Trend (pictured), Sport and Platinum models – and the Ranger Raptor at the Mount Sirromet winery in Brisbane

Another two decades passed because Ford had a new ute-based four-wheel drive in the range, with the Australian debut of the Everest in October 2015.

The earlier model Everest went into showrooms a year before Ford stopped making the Falcon-based Territory in Australia in 2016 – ending a 12-year run as a uniquely Australian designed and built SUV.

But the outgoing Everest, with four and five-cylinder diesels, hardly catered to former Territory buyers who liked having 195 kilowatts of six-cylinder power.

The new Everest at least addresses that with the upper-spec Sport and Platinum models having 184kW of power from a 3.0 litre turbo V6 diesel.

Ford has also ditched the 3.2 litre five-cylinder diesel, with the entry level Ambiente and Trend models now having a 2.0 litre bi-turbo four putting out 154kW – an output similar to a six-cylinder Ford Falcon of the mid-1990s.

The range-topping Platinum costs $77,690 – about $8,000 less than the $85,490 Ford Ranger Raptor which boasts V8-beating 292kW of power compared with 184kW for the most expensive Everest.

But what the Platinum lacks in power compared with the Raptor, it makes up for with seats – having seven of the leather variety, including an electronic, push button-operated rear row with a phone-charging socket and a side pocket for an iPad.

The Platinum also has an electronically adjusted driver’s seat. 

The Everest can also tow 3.5 tonnes like most Rangers – much more than the sporty Raptor’s 2.5 tonnes.

The Australian-designed Everest, priced from $52,990, is the second generation for Australian motorists and is the first new shape since 2015 (pictured is the entry-level Ambiente model)

The Australian-designed Everest, priced from $52,990, is the second generation for Australian motorists and is the first new shape since 2015 (pictured is the entry-level Ambiente model)

Like the Raptor, the Everest Platinum has a 360-degree camera to see the obstacles ahead on a dirt track.

Ford Everest pricing in Australia

Ambiente 4×2 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel, 10-speed automatic (5-seater): $52,990

Ambiente 4×4 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel, 10-speed automatic (5-seater): $57,990

Trend 4×2 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel, 10-speed automatic: $60,290

Sport 4×4 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel, 10-speed automatic: $69,090

Platinum 4×4 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel, 10-speed automatic: $77,690

The Platinum, with all the fruit, can read speed signs and has a camera to monitor oncoming traffic at night, automatically dimming a high beam to avoid annoying that other driver. 

Daily Mail Australia tested the Everest – in Ambiente, Trend, Sport and Platinum models – and the Ranger Raptor at the Mount Sirromet winery in Brisbane. 

The 4×4 models have a Mud and Ruts mode that proved to be very effective wading through some deep puddles on the track, with the 4L, or four low, setting demonstrating good off-road capabilities.

They also have a hill descent feature, a brilliant cruise-control type feature enabling a driver with no four-wheel driving experience to descend a steep hill, setting the speed at a walking pace of 5km/h via switches on the steering wheel. 

Going up steep hills is also a breeze, with the driver only having to steer and not worry about accelerating. 

The Everest, like the Ranger, has a big touch screen in the centre.

The Platinum model boasts a 12-inch screen – like the top-spec Ranger utes – but without buttons, changing radio stations takes some practice.

The big screen was good to view Google Maps or Apple CarPlay but unless your smartphone is put on the charging pad, it will run almost flat within a couple of hours on the road, as drives from Hamilton near the middle of Brisbane to Mount Cotton, via Mount Nebo, proved.

The Platinum, with all the fruit, can read speed signs and has a camera to monitor oncoming traffic at night, automatically dimming a high beam to avoid annoying that other driver

The Platinum, with all the fruit, can read speed signs and has a camera to monitor oncoming traffic at night, automatically dimming a high beam to avoid annoying that other driver

On the road, the Everest is still smooth despite its ute underpinnings. 

The range-topping Platinum costs $77,690 - about $8,000 less than the $85,490 Ford Ranger Raptor (pictured) which boasts V8-beating 292kW of power compared with 184kW for the most expensive Everest

The range-topping Platinum costs $77,690 – about $8,000 less than the $85,490 Ford Ranger Raptor (pictured) which boasts V8-beating 292kW of power compared with 184kW for the most expensive Everest

With more powerful engines, the V6 turbo Everest can claim to partially be a spiritual successor to the Territory.

But being based on a ladder frame chassis – like the Ranger ute – passengers in the Everest sit higher up and therefore have less legroom compared with a more car-like SUV. 

While it may be better off road and for towing, for everyday driving, the soft-roader is a more comfortable option.

Those willing to give up cabin space are preferring a ute with a one-tonne payload, which explains why the Ranger is popular and the Everest isn’t.

That is unlikely to change. 

The Platinum model boasts a 12-inch screen - like the top-spec Ranger utes - good for viewing Google Maps or Apple CarPlay

The Platinum model boasts a 12-inch screen – like the top-spec Ranger utes – good for viewing Google Maps or Apple CarPlay

But being based on a ladder frame chassis - like the Ranger ute - passengers in the Everest sit higher up and therefore have less legroom compared with a more car-like SUV (pictured is the second row seating of a Platinum model)

But being based on a ladder frame chassis – like the Ranger ute – passengers in the Everest sit higher up and therefore have less legroom compared with a more car-like SUV (pictured is the second row seating of a Platinum model)

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk