The last couple of years you’d be forgiven for thinking the only way to head off-road is with a ute. Tub, tray or canopy, it makes no difference; it’s the correct way to go camping, right?
Modern dual-cabs make a lot of sense, as they’re comfortable, reliable, powerful and practical. But not everyone needs a tub or wants the somewhat jarring ride of a set of springs designed to carry a full tonne in the back – or quite frankly, wants a ute as a family car.
That’s why manufacturers build wagons based off the same platform. The same basic rig, just a little more steered towards comfort and family duties, and a little less towards dirt bikes in the back and Monster Energy stickers.
However, are they good a platform for not only everyday duties but towing serious loads, driving serious tracks and doing anything you could with the ute variant? There’s only one way to find out.
This month we’ve added an Everest Sport to the 4X4 Australia long-term fleet, a seven-seat 10-speed auto with a 2.0-litre bi-turbo punching out more killerwasps and torque than it has any right to, and we’re going to put it through the ringer.
First impressions of the Everest kinda make a lot of sense: it feels a lot like a Ranger, only nicer. It’s quieter, smoother to drive, has a more car-like interior, and its cargo space is protected from the elements so it’s far easier to go grocery shopping without worrying your eggs will end up scrambled by the time you get home.
The 2.0-litre donk is surprisingly energetic for its size. It’s far more free-revving than the more work-orientated 3.2-litre, so it feels quicker off the mark and more effortless to drive around town. It feels more like you’re driving a truck and less like you’re driving something the size of an 80 Series LandCruiser.
We had the opportunity to put it through its paces off-road, too, in a recent back-to-back with the current generation Prado. Much to the photographer’s horror, the Everest was easily able to drive through deep wombat holes despite considerable wheel lift.
The combination of the factory rear locker and effective traction control up front meant that, even with a wheel in the air, the Everest was able to claw its way forward. With a set of more aggressive tyres, the only thing that would stop you driving a track would be mechanical sympathy rather than a lack of capability.
We’ve also slung a half-dozen different trailers on the back, from dirt bikes to caravans. The biggest stand-out was the lack of sag in the otherwise supple rear suspension – coil-sprung wagons typically feel the effects of a heavy ball weight far more than a leaf spring vehicle. It definitely lost its punch off the line when loaded up, but it was still more than capable.
After a few thousand kays it feels like we’re only just starting to get to know the Everest, so we’re looking forward to putting it through its paces some more over the coming months. Perhaps Ford will let us install a set of Raptor guards and 33-inch mud tyres? Probably not, but a boy can dream right?
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at email@example.com.
The quintessential magazine for Australia’s four-wheel drive and offroad enthusiasts.
Off-road review: Everest Sport versus Prado GXL
Toyota’s ever-popular Prado gets loaded with more power, torque and accessories, so we line it up against Ford’s Everest Sport.
2020 Ford Everest review
Everything you need to know about the Ford Everest large SUV, including pricing and features.
Ford adds new Everest Sport variant for 2020
If black is your thing, you’re going to love the new Everest Sport