Raymond D. Young / Raymond D. Young | August 11, 2004 00:00
True to the SUV traditionThere was a time when pick-up trucks were fitted with fiberglass tops so as to extend their flexibility by carrying either additional passengers or sensitive cargo. However, this proved to be a nightmare as the pick-up beds are really not designed to load passengers. Well, these days are over since Ford took that bold initiative in carving an SUV out of its existing Ranger platform, and the astounding result is the Everest. The Everest was indeed welcome news to those who are dead tired of extending their pick-up trucks passenger capacity, as it offered a refreshing platform that will seat seven passengers in full SUV comfort.
Powering the Ford Everest is a 2.5 liter turbo diesel intercooler engine from; you've guessed it right, the Ford Ranger. With 110 ps/3,500 rpm maximum power and a whopping 268 Nm of torque at a very early 2,000 rpm, every trip is a power exercise. At 2,000 rpm the Everest is a non-assuming cruiser, but beyond that engine speed the surrounding starts to blur. The Everest is not that lightning quick but it's not a slowpoke either. It's very wise to say that the engine fits the road conditions that this country offers. The Everest comes in 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmission variants, and in 4x2 and 4x4 drive trains. The test drive unit from Ford was a 4x2 one with an automatic transmission.
To the untrained eye, it is hard to distinguish the differences between the 4x2 and the 4x4 Everest. Upon closer look, the 4x2 lacks some appointments such as the power side view mirrors and two-toned paint scheme. Except for the transfer case lever in the 4x4, all else is the same including the bulbous 15" alloy wheels with 265/70/15 tires, so the feeling of being cheated is not blatantly felt, as in the case of would-be 4x2 Everest owners. Besides, the 4x2 is also somewhat lighter to drive than the 4x4 due to obvious reasons.
In the Philippines, the Everest competes side by side with AUVs if pr ice is the topic However, Ford was quick to point out that the Everest is not an AUV, but rather, a true-blue, full-blooded SUV that will take on anything and everything. Competitors have stepped up in enhancing their AUV lineups just to keep up with the Everest's pace. Overall, the Everest is fairly easy to drive, thanks to well-weighted steering and braking behavior. The automatic transmission also does its part by providing a smooth transition to the next gear. Front visibility is also great thanks to the large windshield and overall high ride height. The vehicle in itself is at home with longer drives. Perhaps a little weight reduction and improved steering radius will perhaps augment the already outstanding driving characteristics of this vehicle.
Again, in true SUV tradition, Ford dishes out the AUV-ish side facing rearmost seats in favor of the safer, more comfortable forward facing seats. All passengers, regardless of location inside, is assured full view of the scenery ahead as the Everest features a tiered floor pan. This assures a clearer view of the scenery ahead, just like in every movie theater in the Metro. The Everest adds safety points even more with seat belts for all passengers, and the front audience is protected further by driver and front passenger airbags. Despite the engine being a diesel, excellent NVH figures are still experienced, enabling occupants to carry their conversations even on hushed volumes. Flush-mounted, overhead air-conditioning is standard in the Everest and cools the cabin very quickly even on sweltering days. The rearmost seats could be folded and tumbled down for additional cargo space. Miniscule holders all around the Everest cabin clearly define the SUV experience.
The Ford Everest is another offering that virtually redefined the Philippine SUV tradition. It breaks the adage that SUVs need to be flashy and expensive. True, it rides high with the other SUVs out there, but it's not a pocket whore. The Ford Everest has created another niche in the Philippine Car Market and is truly a tough act to follow. In its place of origin, its introduction has brought out similar offerings from the other manufacturers. But, as history repeats itself, the pioneer will reign supreme, just like the time when Henry Ford churned out affordable Model T's to fulfill the American dream of a reliable and inexpensive vehicle.