Blue Oval is gearing up to launch a rugged machine designed and engineered in Australia to tackle the toughest off-road trails and urban jungles.
SUV sales have skyrocketed over the past year as Australians kick off their lockdown and explore nature.
Ford is looking to capitalize on this trend with the new Ford Everest, a rugged all-wheel drive vehicle based on the best-selling Ranger. Everest and Ranger have been designed and engineered in Victoria for over 180 markets worldwide.
Ford has invested more than $2.5 billion in its local operations since 2016, and its engineering and design workforce has grown to over 2,500 people.
The Everest won’t hit local showrooms until later this year, but Ford gave the media a preview of the vital new model at the You Yangs proving ground outside of Melbourne.
Clad in camouflage, the all-wheel drive looks partly due to the rugged styling that reflects its off-road abilities.
One of the biggest changes is under the hood, where buyers can choose between a ported 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine or a new 184kW, 600Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel unit.
The larger engine is only available in the more expensive Sport and Platinum trims with all-wheel drive only.
The cheaper Ambiente and Trend versions come with a bi-turbo engine and a choice of two- or four-wheel drive.
Pricing starts at $52,990 (excluding travel expenses) for the all-wheel drive and five-seat Ambiente and peaks at $77,690 for the Platinum. This is a rise from $3,000 to $4,500 across the entire range.
Everest Program Manager Prithika Maharaj says “the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel really delivers the kind of torque and power that customers need.”
“It feels really tough in the sense that it has endless power and torque, but it’s also refined and quiet on the road,” she says.
Initial impressions support these claims.
A short loop of Ford’s grueling off-road track at You Yangs Proving Ground shows that the big Ford has the off-road intelligence to keep its badass good looks alive.
Ford has made Everest’s off-road features easier to use than the previous version.
Drivers have instant access to vital 4WD controls such as Hill Descent Control and Differential Lock.
Full-time all-wheel drive with high and low gears handles mud and ruts with ease, and all key information is easy to view on a dedicated off-road screen.
For the first time, Ford has installed a front view camera that allows drivers to see what’s happening under the hood in real time and allows them to choose the path of least resistance.
The prototype handled rock-strewn dirt roads with ease and galloped up a steep 60-degree incline with deep ruts carved into the dirt by a steady stream of vehicles.
As soon as we reached the top, the descent control system controlled the situation on the way down, automatically braking and controlling the speed of the car without driver intervention.
The shallow creek crossing was easily overcome without compromising Everest’s impressive 800m depth.
There’s no doubt it’s a more capable off-road machine than the previous generation, but unfortunately there was no tarmac ride, so we couldn’t judge how Everest handled the urban jungle.
Ford has greatly improved the Everest’s cabin, using better materials and more technology.
The basic version of Ambiente is equipped with a 10.1-inch center touchscreen and an eight-inch digital driver display, while all other versions have a larger 12-inch center touchscreen.
The top Platinum version increases the size of the driver’s digital display to 12.4 inches.
Depending on which class you choose, you can choose from hard-wearing fabric, partially upholstered in leather or quilted all-leather upholstery.
Alloy wheels range from 17 to 21 inches.
Other nice touches include heated and cooled seats, ambient lighting and a range of stereos including a 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen system.
All models come with a full range of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, lane keeping and blind spot assist, and rear cross traffic alert.
Originally published as 2022 Ford Everest Prototype Review