The Everest, Ford’s next-gen SUV that shares its underpinnings with the ever-popular Ranger, lands down under in four specifications; Ambiente, Trend, Sport and Platinum. We got along to a special launch event to check things out.
Longer, wider and taller than the previous version, the 2023 Ford Everest now has slightly higher approach and departure angles (model and wheel package dependent). We should mention there’s now an 18-inch off road wheel and tyre combo on offer too, at no cost.
There are two engine options, with a 2.0-litre 4-cyclinder offering 154kW and 500Nm, or a 3.0-litre V6 delivering 184kW and 600Nm. Which one you get access to depends on the trim level you choose.
For example, the basic boy of the range, the Ambiente, only comes with the 4-cylinder powertrain, paired to a 10-speed auto. Here you will find cloth trim and manual seats, and a few less cameras at your disposal.
It’s fitted with 17-inch alloys and is available only in 5-seater format. This model starts from $57,881 drive away. If you want that third row, you’ll need to jump up to the Trend, which grabs a powered tailgate and some leather accents throughout the interior.
It retains the same engine and gearbox as the Ambiente and both have the option of an upgrade to full-time 4WD. The Trend starts from $65,546 drive away. The Sport is where things start to get very serious and very fun though.
The Sport gets a fully blackened accent kit on the outside to make it look tougher, with the super impressive and quiet V6 diesel under the hood. There’s a locking rear diff. 20-inch alloy wheels in Gloss Black, and a hands-free tailgate.
The front seats are cooled and heated, with this variant also the first in the range to feature Ford’s new terrain management system, which includes a display for the driveline, as well as a front facing camera to show the steering angle and navigate the tricky trails.
This system also allows you to set a pace for the trail and lets the SUV manage that while you focus on where you are going. The Sport starts from $74,786 drive away, and is just one step away from the range-topping Platinum model.
The latter is the whole package; luxury and sportiness. It gains 21-inch alloys, a chrome accent kit for that high end exterior feel, a dual panel panoramic roof, and heated second row seats to go with the heated and vented front ones.
There’s a load more leather to have you traveling in comfort too. The instrument cluster is transformed into one big 12.4-inch screen that has a very nice visual effect, whereby the background updates to show what mode you are in.
One of the stand out features in the Platinum is matrix LED headlights. Not only do these pivot through corners for better visibility but they can automatically analyse oncoming light from other traffic and dim only parts of the high beam.
It’s a high-tech setup that’s super impressive. Both the Sport and Platinum also come with a top down 360-degree parking view, with a zoom function, to help you avoid obstacles, both on trails and in the garage. The Platinum starts from $83,639 drive away.
On the road, the 4-cylinder is noisier and seems to work pretty hard to get the hefty Everest SUV up steep inclines. Comparably, the V6 is quiet as a mouse, particularly on the Platinum spec.
The big V6 took on everything thrown at it with such ease that it was hard not to be impressed. The 10-speed auto has been tuned well too, and seems almost wedded to this engine, over the smaller option.
Like the Ranger, ARB have played a role in the development of this vehicle, matching accessories that will maintain warranty and are designed to specifically fit the Everest layout.
For example, the ARB compressor fits under the boot floor, where there’s a power socket to connect to, leaving you with more boot storage. Extra lighting around the exterior of the SUV is a welcome addition too, making it easier to set up camp or change a tyre at night.
The fact the Ford Connect app can start the car for you and warm it up, or control the sectioned exterior lighting, all from your smartphone, is an added bonus. Late night toilet runs on camping trips spring to mind here.
Out on the dedicated 4×4 track we used as part of the launch event, we were able to test the Everest range in both moderate and difficult conditions.
While all variants made it through the trails, it was the confidence and ease the Sport and Platinum did it with, that really stood out. It was here we were able to showcase trail control too, hitting some moguls in 4H with the pace set at 4km/h.
The Ford Everest did the rest, navigating the track with ease. Next up were some deep muddy ruts and when we say deep, we mean up to the doors deep (60-80cm). The SUV’s lumbered through like it was nothing.
We were especially impressed with the Platinum again here, riding on 21-inch road tyres, it easily manoeuvred its way through, without even really spinning a wheel.
From there, we hit the bends and hills, watching the on-board gyros wind up to over 25 degrees side to side and up to 30 degrees front to back. Despite the fact your natural instinct is to think you’re going to roll, the Everest handled it with ease.
After an epic day of adventure, it was time to wind down, enjoy dinner and glamping tents at Sirromet Winery, and reflect on what a great package the Everest is. The only thing that really needs improvement across the entire range is the layout of the infotainment system.
The air con controls are touch based, fiddly, and chew up permanent real estate on the screen. Now while the screen is huge, and portrait, it would be nice if these could fold down to a bar at the bottom or in the corner.
If we had to choose an Everest from the range, we’re going with the Sport, in either Lightning Blue or Sedona Orange. That said, the if you have the coin for a Platinum, it is a great level up.
Our test vehicle was provided as part of a two-day media drive program by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, visit your local Ford dealer.
This story first published on Exhaust Notes Australia: https://www.exhaustnotes.com.au/2023-ford-everest-ambiente-trend-sport-platinum-launch-drive/