This is the second appearance of an Everest at 4X4OTY. Three years ago, it not only made the 4X4OTY shortlist but took out the award from a strong field that included the then-new Toyota Hilux.
Now, thanks largely to its new 2.0-litre bi-turbo engine and 10-speed auto, the Everest is back for a second tilt at the award. In addition, the 2019 Everest also sees a revision to the front suspension, more safety and convenience kit, and a minor facelift.
The new powertrain is the only choice for buyers of the top-spec Titanium and is optional in the mid-spec Trend, which is also available with the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel and six-speed auto. The entry-level Ambiente only comes with the 3.2. What we have here is the Trend, which is $61K plus on-road costs with the new 2.0 powertrain attracting a modest $1200 premium over the 3.2.
The Everest is Ranger-based, though key technical differences exist with the adoption of a full-time 4x4 system (in place of the Ranger’s part-time 4x4) and coil springs for the rear live axle.
More than anything else the new 2.0-litre powertrain brings refinement rather than any significant improvement in performance to the Everest. This new engine is notably quiet and smooth, while the 10-speed automatic is that smooth and slick you barely notice when it’s changing gears.
The taller final drive gearing (compared to the 3.2) combined with the already tall eighth, ninth and tenth gears means the engine just lopes along at touring speeds. And, while the powertrain only marginally improves the performance over the 3.2, it still carries the taller gears well, is effortless in general driving and provides better fuel economy than the somewhat thirsty 3.2.
The Everest’s powertrain refinement is complemented by a supple, comfortable and quiet ride, in part helped by the suspension revision. The Everest also handles and steers very well for a plush-riding 4x4 wagon, while its full-time 4x4 system offers convenience, all-roads grip and a good dose of safety, especially on wet bitumen and the like.
The Everest’s radar cruise control is another touring bonus; although, having to go through one of the settings menus to switch from normal cruise to radar cruise is far from ideal.
Full-time 4x4 brings convenience once you hit the trails, and you don’t have to think about locking the centre diff as it happens automatically. The only thing the driver needs to do is select low range, if needed, or lock the rear diff, which is rarely needed unless the track is particularly difficult.
The Everest is a comfortable and competent trail vehicle; although, vision from the driver’s seat could be better, and the rocker switch on the side of the shifter (for manual selection) isn’t as natural to use as the sequential side-gate shift.
The Everest offers Terrain Management that usefully tweaks the throttle mapping, the gearbox’s shift protocols, the centre diff’s operation and the traction and stability control systems. In low range you can select Normal or Rock modes, while in high range you can select Normal, Snow/Mud/Grass or Sand.
Set-Piece Hill Climb
The Everest was another vehicle that failed to get up our set-piece climb without its rear locker engaged, but it managed to clear the climb once the driver-switched locker was brought into play. As with the Ranger, engaging the rear locker keeps the traction control active on the front wheels, a difference you notice on any 4x4 which cancels the traction control completely if the rear locker is engaged.
4x4 comparison: Everest v Trailblazer
Cabin, Equipment and Safety
The Everest has a spacious, comfortable and well-appointed and -finished cabin. Highlights include a comfortable driving position, the flexibility that fore and aft adjustment on the middle seat brings, and a good amount of space behind the third-row seats. Negatives include the hard-to-see HVAC controls, fiddly switchgear and complicated display menus.
Standard equipment (on the Trend) extends to smart-key entry and start, leather, power-adjust driver’s seat, dual-zone A/C, eight-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, 10-speaker audio with digital radio and CD player, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, and LED DRLs.
Safety kit includes autonomous braking, radar cruise, lane-keeping assist, and front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags. Everest had a five-star ANCAP rating in 2015 and, while there are no test results for the new model, it has extra safety kit.
The Everest’s good fuel economy and 80-litre tank provides a touring range of around 800km, the best of our shortlisted vehicles. A practical and common wheel and tyre size and the ability to fit 17s in place of the standard 18s enhances the Everest’s practicality as a remote tourer.
The Everest now draws its engine intake air from under the bonnet lip rather than via the inner guard; although, this hasn’t diminished the claimed wading depth. However, there are no heavy-duty recovery points, only a tie-down point at the front and a rear screw-in towing eye.
Interestingly the 2.0 Everest is rated to tow 3100kg, which is 100kg more than the 3.2; proof of Ford’s faith in the smaller engine’s ability to do a big job.
The new 2.0-litre/10-speed powertrain appears in all three Fords here, but arguably finds its happiest and most appropriate home in the Everest, given its excellent refinement sits perfectly with what you want in a family 4x4 wagon.
Which 4x4 will come out on top at 4x4 of the Year 2019?
2019 FORD EVEREST TREND SPECS:
Engine: 2.0-litre inline-4 bi-turbo diesel
Max power: 157kW at 3750rpm
Max torque: 500Nm at 1750-2000rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
4x4 system: Dual-range part-time
Kerb weight: 2413kg
Towing capacity: 3100kg
Tyres: 265/60R18 112T
Fuel tank capacity: 80L
ADR fuel consumption claim: 7.1L/100km
On-test fuel consumption: 9.4L/100km
Base price: $61,190 (plus ORC)
As tested: $61,190 (plus ORC)