What a pleasant surprise it was to settle into the seats of the new Ford Everest XLT. This is a big, spacious, high-up SUV with plenty of elbow-room inside and a commanding view of the road.
Swinging the starter yields another pleasant surprise: the offbeat grumble of that five-cylinder, 3.2-litre turbodiesel. This is a motor that clearly won’t be taking any prisoners.
All good so far, because this is another great new product to emerge from the new Ford stable, where world-class standards are the key to their revised business model. In this case, the Aussies had a big hand in fettling and reworking the basic T6/ Ranger underpinnings to create a proper, hard-working body-on-frame SUV.
It had to be different to the Territory (which rides slightly better on its Falcon-derived underpinnings, but is less tough) and some margin better than the previous Everest (which it accomplishes on every point you care to mention... from design and packaging, to ability). The engineers say that so much is changed from the Ranger base that the Everest qualifies as a different vehicle.
Man, I like the looks of this vehicle. The grille is all in the current Ford trapezoidal mould, and the proportions are pleasant to behold: there are no ugly overhangs, and the rounded rear end disguises the space needed to fit a third row of seats. The sides are big, slabby, and devoid of confusing creases; there are no busy intersections of designer crayon strokes or vanity elements that have no function.
What there is, are wheel arches that are puffy and muscular, a face that is cliff-like and masculine, and a rear which is tall with a large wraparound window. It’s not hugely distinctive, but the net effect is of a generous, businesslike and masculine off-roader.
The 18-inch alloy wheels (on the more utility-biased XLT that is on test here) are shod in highway-spec 265/60 Bridgestone Duellers, which you’d toss out for some hardier AT tyres if overlanding trips were on the cards, and the side steps are ridiculously low. (Fine, if your ageing mother-in-law is a regular part of the commute, but best unbolted if you have trails in mind.)
The XLT has less bling and fewer toys than the Limited derivative. That still means leather-clad seats (manual adjustment up front) plus a 50:50 split third row that folds flat into the boot space (which is large and deep), pulls upward for small people – and still allows some packing space behind them.
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