FORD’S long-awaited wagon version of the Aussie designed and developed Ranger trade ute is finally out in the wild – the 2015 Ford Everest SUV.
While its rivals are also based on commercial vehicles, the production version of the Everest doesn't draw as heavily on Ranger’s rugged worksite ute origins, instead shows some real on-road promise with what looks to be a similar Watts linkage rear end as used on previous generations of V8 Supercars.
Unveiled in Beijing 15 months after it first appeared in concept form in the wake of Ford Australia’s decision to stop local manufacturing, the Everest will be sold in several global markets, including Australia, from early next year.
Everest will come in either rear- or all-wheel-drive versions, with Australian versions expected to use the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel already used under the bonnet of the Ranger ute. Other markets will also have access to a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
Ford will also offer a more fuel-efficient 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in some markets.
The production version of the Everest borrows some luxury-car features, including active noise cancelling inside the cabin that uses the audio system’s speakers to mask things like wind and tyre roar, and active engine mounts that turn a rattly diesel into a smooth operator.
Other features include a large sunroof, more than 30 stash points and cubby holes that rival the Ford Territory’s versatility, a powered tailgate, a Toyota Prado-rivalling 240-volt charging point, and fold-flat second- and third-row seats.
Smartphones will integrate with the Everest via an eight-inch multimedia screen, while the integrated driver aids read more like the list for a high-end passenger car than an off-road capable wagon: Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, and a Blind Spot Information System with an alert system that sounds a warning if a vehicle appears in their blind spot while driving or when preparing to reverse out of parking spots.
Everest will also have access to adaptive cruise control, and a forward-looking radar that can stop the big SUV automatically to reduce or even avoid a rear-end shunt.
And there’s no need to worry about the Everest’s size in the city, with an Active Park Assist system that should also appear on the new Ford Mondeo due in Australia early next year allowing drivers to parallel park hands-free.
On the safety front, Everest is expected to wear up to seven airbags.
If you want to go offroad, the Everest uses a Land Rover-style system that lets the driver match four separate driving modes with the view out the windows – Normal for on-road use, Snow/Gravel/Grass, Sand and Rock. There’s also selectable low-range gearing for climbing the really tough kerbs, and an 800mm wading depth to survive inner-city flash floods.
Everest is due on sale in Australia early next year.