We flew to Australia to check out the Ford Everest.
Among the raft of other necessities required to climb to the top of any mountain, certain things like determination, perseverance and a whole heap of planning are most certainly at the forefront. Whether you’re a pioneer (there are still a plethora of ‘virgin peaks’ yet to be conquered) or out to climb a previously scaled iconic summit, garnering as much information before you set off is obviously quite critical and for those attempting the latter, knowing, how, where, when and with what equipment is information ideally delivered first-hand from someone that’s been there before. Funnily enough, that’s exactly the approach Ford took when setting out to apex their own Everest.
In a move that would be seemingly obvious to most people (although it’s done less than you’d expect) Ford gathered together a shedload of current Everest owners and asked them how they’d improve their large 7-seater SUV, apparently, the customers were more than happy to oblige. Last month Ford took us on an expedition to the Australian Blue Mountains to show us what nuggets had been uncovered.
We congregated at the Sydney domestic airport Valet park and were quickly introduced to the 2019 Everest. Although from Australia’s point of view, there are a handful of options available, New Zealand is only going with the top of the line Titanium, so that’s the model we made an immediate beeline for. Keyless entry and push-button start (two new features) had us quickly on our way towards the iconic Hydro Majestic hotel in the Blue Mountains, via Garie Beach Royal National Park and the Headland Hotel and Bistro in Austinmer for lunch. The total drive was to take nigh-on four hours, plenty of time to get to know our new ride.
The route included stunning scenery both seafront and parklands, tight twisting turns intertwined with long open road straights, a variety of road surfaces and a fair share of Aussie wildlife.
We learnt later that four core areas had been highlighted by the Everest fans. They wanted an improved ride, increased ‘plushness’, added safety and could Ford throw in some fuel economy savings along the way – so not too much to ask then.
From a design point of view, there hasn’t been too much changed. It’s still the same large-sized SUV and that’s a good thing. It has been given a new Grille and bumper up front, it has some added side details and sits on 2-inch alloy wheels, while around the back, again it has a new rear bumper (which offers a wider road stance look) and a ‘Kicker’ auto tailgate that opens up to 1050L luggage space from the 2nd row. The interior has been refreshed with special attention to upgrading the upholstery and more tactile materials.
Road noise has been dramatically reduced (by 4 decibels) thanks to acoustic glass and some sound cancelling tech. On the subject of tech, it now comes with extra safety and driver aids such as pre-collision AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), Traffic sign recognition and active park – it’s 5-Star ANCAP too.
The Ford mechanical team have evidently crawled around the Everest’s undercarriage and drivetrain, making suspension changes such as lower spring rates and reseating the stabiliser bar for a more car-like drive on the road and replacing the engine and gearbox with the powertrain that comes straight out of the Ranger Raptor. This 2L Bi-Turbo engine married to a 10-speed gearbox offers 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque which, (the Everest fans will love this) gives up to a 17% improvement in fuel efficiency (that equates to around an extra 200km per tank!) and when added to the new suspension increases the towing capacity to 3100kg.
But don’t think for one moment that with all these improvements the Everest has gone soft, oh no, the terrain management system is still as good as it’s always been (actually seemingly better), something we discovered next.
Suitably rested and refreshed thanks to the Hydro Majestic’s hospitality team, we were up early the next day for an off-road adventure to the Zig Zag railway and out further, to find the Lost City. Off the tarmac, we subjected the 2019 Everest to deep rut and mountain scaling punishment. A trek that included a series of wheel (and at times hair) raising exercises. The Everest seemed in its element out in the elements. We travelled along the Billabong Power Pole Line Road and climbed to the top of the range, before having some sand drifting, donut fun beside a real billabong.
Lunch was held back in civilization at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens (it has outstanding views), before the highway drive back to the airport – phew.
It had been an outstanding two-day launch that really put the 2019 Everest through its paces. The wishlist developed by the Everest owners had been well and truly addressed, with the large SUV offering a more refined on-road experience while still maintaining and maybe even improving its off-road prowess. By garnering knowledge from those that have first-hand Everest experience, Ford has managed to really apex their own SUV mountain.