ROAD TEST: Ford’s tough off-roader SUV
The rear-drive Everest Trend is the cheapest way to access Ford's new 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel. For about $61,000 on the road before options, the seven-seater's standard kit includes leather-trimmed upholstery, power tailgate and eight-inch infotainment screen with satnav and smartphone mirroring. Ford's range is now backed by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and servicing comes to $1385 for the first three annual/15,000km visits.
Lack of space has never been an issue in the Everest, with the third row able to fit small adults who don't mind cosying up over short distances if necessary. Active noise cancellation and better sound deadening helps offset a little diesel clatter at idle and low revs but once under way the twin-turbo is impressively quiet. The ride is also measurably better around town, with less fore-and-aft pitching over supermarket speed humps.
Autonomous emergency braking is standard on the Trend - the base Ambiente misses out until a running change next year - and its precursor audio and visual alerts flare up when drivers drop in on you in dense traffic. Adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition and lane keep assist complete the active safety. ANCAP judged the Everest a five-star vehicle when it was crash-tested in 2015.
There's no getting away from the fact the Everest is a big SUV but it now rides better around town thanks to stronger sway bars and revised spring rates. There's still a faint jiggle over road ripples to remind you this isn't a purpose-built soft-roader but the Everest is a reasonable drive if you don't expect Territory-style cornering. The 10-speed auto can be indecisive when deciding which gear to kick down to under mid-throttle acceleration.
Toyota Prado GXL $67,600-$68,500 drive-away
The all-wheel drive Prado uses a 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbo diesel paired to a six-speed auto but in second-tier GXL guise misses out on the leather seat trim.
Hyundai Santa Fe Elite $58,500-$60,000 drive-away
The Elite uses a 2.2-litre turbo diesel to send 147kW/440Nm to all four wheels. The ride is better than the Everest and it now has similar levels of safety gear.
Isuzu MU-X LS-T 2WD $45,990 drive-away
Sharp pricing and a solid reputation make the Isuzu one of the segment heavyweights. The proviso is you have to be prepared to do without active safety software.
Tech improvements have made the Everest more approachable. It's still an off-road capable SUV, but now it's capable of running around suburbia in active wear without unduly embarrassing itself.
Ford Everest Trend RWD
Price: $60,700-$61,500 drive-away
Safety: 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl twin-turbo diesel, 157kW/500Nm
Transmission: 10-speed auto; RWD