At the 2014 Bangkok International Motor Show, the star was undoubtedly from the blue oval's booth as they showcased the Ford Everest Concept;the same one that made its world premiere in Australia last August.
We couldn't help but ask a Ford R&D insider about how the production model of the 7-seat SUV will be like. Judging by what was relayed to us by our source, the production version of the Ford Everest will be the knock-out punch. If the Ranger was the revolution, the Everest will be the haymaker.
Concept or production model?
When Ford first revealed the Everest Concept, we all thought it strange that the 7-seat SUV looked more like a production model than a concept vehicle.
Well, it seems that there will be very minimal changes to the Everest's exterior for the production model. Many details about the Everest 'concept' support this theory, particularly given how concepts are typically not fully functional and made merely for shows (a pure interpretation of the artist/designers imagination) whereas the Everest looks production-ready.
The R&D team is reportedly building disguised (with camouflage stickers, so we're told) for testing on various road surfaces and weather conditions its customers may encounter. The only part that will surely be changed will be the tires, as the Everest Concept has a set of Cooper off-road rubber instead of the H/T's (highway tires) that production SUVs tend to have on their wheels.
Potential interior design
Judging by what we see on the 'concept', it appears to be a functional vehicle, though Ford has not opened the doors or the engine bay to reveal what's inside. This is where it gets interesting. Common knowledge would suggest that the dashboard would be similar, if not exactly the same, as that in the Ranger (above). Not so, hints our source.
From what was indicated to us, it appears the interior design of the production Everest would take inspiration and/or elements from the current generation Ford Explorer, Ford Flex as well as the new F150.
Below are the dashboards of the Explorer, Flex and F150, top to bottom, respectively.
This is indicative of a far more upscale design treatment compared to the utilitarian Ranger cabin.
Unlike the Ranger (which has the older pre-SYNC audio system), the top-spec Everest will be getting SYNC 2, the second generation of the multimedia entertainment system developed by Microsoft and Ford that debuted in Geneva with the facelifted Focus.
SYNC 2 features significant upgrades to the first generation SYNC seen in the 2011-present Explorer, the 2012-present Focus and the 2013-present Fiesta. Apart from AppLink and the quicker load times, SYNC 2 has -according to various reports- better and more intuitive voice recognition, departing from the typical and rigid voice command system.
For instance, saying “I'm hungry” will prompt SYNC 2 (given that it's tethered to a 3G connection) to search for a place to eat for you. You can also say things like “set airconditioning to 22 degrees” or “do not disturb”.
SYNC 2 in the Everest will also have 8-inch touchscreen.
A key tenet of Mulally's One Ford Plan is to achieve economies of scale by a wide scale of commonalities between the different models sharing a platform.
As such it appears the Everest will come with the same engines as its bed-laden brother (the Ranger). Expect the SUV to be available with 2.2L TDCI or 3.2L TDCI motors. 6-speed automatic transmissions are expected, though it is still not clear if mid or low range versions will arrive with 6-speed manuals.
We know the Everest is based off of the T6 Ranger's platform, but this concept already has a major difference: the rear suspension.
As we know, pick ups typically (almost always, actually) have a rigid axle with leaf springs in the back. A peek at the undercarriage reveals that the Everest Concept uses coil springs in the rear; a suspension set-up that generally has better ride characteristics than the leaf springs common in the pick-up class (i.e. the Ranger).
The front has double wishbones while the rear axle is still rigid; no full independent suspension here. The wheelbase also appears to be longer than the Ranger's.
It's still early, but from the information that we gathered, the Everest will be launched within the 10 month period between August 2014 and May 2015. As to when exactly is still unclear, though it was indicated to us that Q1 or Q2 2015 are most likely for the ASEAN region.
As such, the next-generation Ford Everest will debut as a 2015 model.
Is that something to be excited about or what?