Think about it. If there's one manufacturer that specializes in making SUVs, it has to be Ford. Explorer, Expedition, Escape. All SUVs, all Ford. Now Ford Philippines brings us a new Everest, updated and upgraded for the challenges of 2009 and beyond.
There's a slight increase in size, as the Everest now measures 5062mm long, 1788mm wide, 1826mm tall, though the story really begins up front, with a thorough redesign of the Everest's face. The Everest now takes plenty of cues from the new Tough Style Ranger, following the "I" pattern that begins from the multi-reflector headlamps and flows downward towards the lower airdam. A proud, 5-bar polished chrome grille is the most prominent feature, along with EVEREST embossed onto the top lip, and completed by silver bezeled round foglamps. Other additions include the side vents (first seen on the new Escape) while a redesigned tailgate and new taillamps finish off the new body.
The most marked change has to be the rolling stock. Ford installed a new set of handsome, diamond polished 6-spoke wheels matched with lower profile 255/60/R18 tires, lending the Everest far more character (street-cred even) where ever it rolls. The new Everest has now truly looked back on the ultra rugged look of the mark 1 and 2 Everests, and now looks very much at home in city streets and party hotspots.
That's not saying that the new Everest is stuck in mundane metro duties, as under all the redesigned metal is the off-road proven, robust Everest/Ranger platform. A double-wishbone, torsion-bar equipped front suspension is followed suit by rigid axle, leaf-spring load carriers in the back, generating upwards of 210mm of ground clearance to tower over what's in the way. The suspension, however, is tuned to produce better handling, hence compromises ride comfort quite a bit. It does, however, give the 2 tonne SUV some pretty good reflexes to work with on the road, lending more confidence to push in the corners or make quicker overtaking maneuvers that defy it's size.
This ability is further helped by a punchy 2.5 liter DuraTORQ TDCI turbo intercooler diesel engine. With drive-by-wire, a prod of the throttle that sends up to 143 PS of power and 330 Newton-meters of torque to the rear. A 5-speed automatic makes full use of the powerband, allowing shorter ratios for quicker acceleration from a standing start or improved overtaking latency. The Everest also has higher top speed of about 170 km/h at 3300 rpm. In economy driving, the Everest 4x2 can even yield a thrifty 11.4 km/l consumption in mixed driving with moderate to light traffic.
Inside, the cabin has 3 rows of seats with a 2-3-2 layout, front to back. The 3rd row, with its Synchronic fold-and-tumble system, makes stowing the last row a quick and easy affair to make room for more luggage. All occupants are kept cool via a rear airconditioning system with ceiling mounted vents. Ford also sought subtle refinements with fresh leather and light fabrics. The dashboard and door panels feature wood trim and silver accents while the steering wheel is wrapped in leather for better grip.
It's not without peculiarities and shortcomings though. There's no automatic climate control for more consistent temperatures. The 3rd row is still a headrest-less bench and thus, quite uncomfortable for those 5'6" or taller. The 2nd row is a 50:50 split, whereas most of the competition resorts to a 60:40 split for improved passenger/cargo versatility. The dash board plastics are quite, uh, plasticky and don't have that quality feel about them and, just like the mark 2 Everest, when the center dash aircon vents are shut, they still force air towards your knees.
The Everest makes it up with a decent CD/MP3/AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary port for your iPod. If you'd like, you can specify the optional DVD/CD/MP3/iPod with 2 headrest monitors along with the coup de grace: a GPS navigation system that has most of the country mapped out, enabling you to chart any course you'd like.
To match the new technology, and more importantly, to match the performance, Ford gave the Everest plenty of safety features to match. Anti lock brakes manages the strong front disc brakes and rear drums, ensuring that the driver can maintain steering control in an emergency, and is further helped along by electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and a G-force sensor for even better maneuverability. If a collision is unavoidable, the Everest is equipped with the most airbags in the class with dual front and side airbags. Reinforced at strategic points, the Everest manages and channels impact forces, maintaining passenger cabin integrity.
Ford made what they make best, and with the 2009 Ford Everest combining true truck toughness, snappy contemporary looks and innovative electronics, it's poised to be a force right from the showroom floor.