PERFORMANCE SUVs, eh?
They’re the bread-and-butter of the go-fast divisions at premium brands such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, featuring jacked-up wagons built to defy gravity and bend the laws of physics, all while banging apexes with abandon.
But does Ford want a slice of the action? After all, it’s likely we’re going to have a tricked-out version of the significantly facelifted, load-lugging 2018 Ranger wearing a Raptor badge, so why not the same treatment for Ford’s family-friendly version, the Everest?
Wheels has had a bit of a crack at how we reckon the Ford Everest Raptor – potentially Aussie-developed seeing as we’ve run the T6 development program since day one, and are more than likely involved in the US market Bronco build – will stack up. Ford Australia first gave us wind that a special version of the Ranger ute was in the works after launching an application to trademark the name “Ford Ranger Raptor” in 2015.
If it does come here, the Raptor-badged king of the (world’s tallest) mountain is likely to go down the same path as its ute-based cousin, potentially dumping the growly 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel for a 240kW/500Nm turbocharged 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6, similar to the one that powers the US-market F-150.
Similar to the F-150 Raptor, the Everest-badged version should gain a 10-speed automatic transmission sending drive to all four wheels. The Everest already has a Watts link/coil rear suspension – incidentally, spy images hint that the ute-based version will also adapt this set-up – so expect a beefier set-up to better hug the road.
Any moves to Raptor-enhance the Everest will be a welcome change to the current crop of large SUVs and trade utes that woo over buyers with little more than plodding pace wrapped in plastic garnish. We’re talking the likes of the Holden Trailblazer Z71, TRD versions of the strong-selling HiLux, and one from Ford’s own stable, the Ranger Wildtrack.
Large SUVs are big money in Australia – they outsell the medium and large car segments combined. The Toyota Prado large has it all over the Everest when it comes to Australian sales, with the Toyota-badged wagon moving almost 10,000 units over the first seven months of this year compared with the Ford’s 2600. The Holden Trailblazer is sitting on just more than 1800 sales, while the Isuzu MU-X has attracted almost 4400 buyers. The decidedly unsporty Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has attracted more than 4200 buyers.