When a new vehicle is launched, the natural trend (no pun intended) is that the top spec variants or top-of-the-line models are the first to be snapped up by customers. And with good reason too as these variants usually have all the best tech, the most power features, the nicer colors, the larger wheels, the more premium interiors, the more powerful engines, so on and so forth. In short, these are the models that will make their lucky owners the envy of their respective gated communites.
Such is the case for the Ford Everest, as the Titanium along with the optional Premium Package raised the bar for the features in the PPV/SUV segment that an owner can show off to his buddies.
What we're driving now -the Ford Everest Trend- isn't the top of the line variant. Instead it's the mid-grade version, one that could very well be the PPV to beat in the range and its price point.
For starters, it looks quite good. This may be a mid range model, but it doesn't look like they scrimped on the exterior details. The decorative overrider on the lower front bumper is silver while the wide octagonal grille done in chrome. The projector halogen headlamps lose the LED DRLs from the Titanium while the doorhandles and wing mirrors are color keyed (in this case, Aluminum Metallic) to the body instead of chrome. The wheels are smaller at 18 inches, but they look good too and should be more pliant in the city given the higher profile rubber. Overall, it doesn't look spartan when parked side-by-side to a Titanium version, and I prefer a little less chrome on a vehicle anyway, not to mention that color keyed exterior elements are easier to maintain if they get scratched.
Inside, the Everest Trend has a more straightforward look with a well-matched use of black, gray and silver surfaces. I actually prefer it this way instead of the fancy details on the Titanium Premium variants such as the glossy EVEREST panel on the dashboard and the power moonroof; really, how often do we find use for such features? I wish they did make the AC socket standard across the range, but that might be too much to ask.
To be honest I was expecting features such as a standard audio unit, a standard airconditioning system, the usual gauge cluster, and basic cloth fabric on the seats, but such is not the case for the Trend. The seats are done in black leather, the gauges are similar to the cool ones on the Explorer, the A/C is fully automatic and dual zone, and the audio system is the second generation version of Ford's now famous voice command-capable, touchscreen SYNC system with 10 speakers, USB input, Bluetooth, among many other functions. After testing SYNC for the last couple of years, it's still quite neat to be able to call someone or opening a playlist on your iPod simply by speaking a command prompt.
The seats are all spacious for the class, and the second and third rows both fold flat for maximum cargo space if you need it. The third row fold mechanism isn't the fancy electrical one, but it is one -touch. For safety, this one also has its occupants covered quite nicely. Six airbags are standard and so are the accurate back-up sensors. Even stability control is standard for this variant, something unexpected given its price point.
Powering this version of the Everest is the 2.2 liter Duratorq TDCI 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine shared with the Ranger pick up and replaces the 2.5 liter turbo diesel in the previous Everest. At 160 PS with 385 Nm of torque, the improved 2.2L TDCI actually has one of the highest specific outputs and torque ratings in the PPV category at 72.7 PS per liter displacement, as well as 175 Nm per liter of engine displacement. The 2.2L TDCI is bested only by the new 2.4L 4N15 engine in the Mitsubishi Montero Sport (75.4 PS/liter and 179 Nm/liter), as well as the Chevrolet Trailblazer for torque at (178.6 Nm/liter). Considering those figures, this turbodiesel with the 4x2 drivetrain and 6-speed automatic gearbox, this Everest is easily one of the top contenders as the pound-for-pound champ in the class.
The Everest Trend is quite light on its feet in the city, and is matched with the light steering system. The tires certainly make for a better ride overall, and the smaller wheels aren't as worrisome as the 20-inch rolling stock on the Titanium when you inevitably hit a pothole. The shifting of the 6-speed automatic is clean and can be quite seamless if driven with a smartly-controlled right foot. Maneuverability is also good, though the combination of the wide A-pillar and passenger side mirrors can present a challenge in tight 90-degree city streets.
Despite the size and weight, the Everest 2.2L is no slouch. Handling is quite good and there's plenty of torque to go around if you're going uphill. Overtaking on the uphill is easy, and braking on the downhill is likewise good. I particularly liked the braking balance of the Everest, as the big ute stays planted and stable even in emergency braking maneuvers.
Being a 4x2, it's best to leave tricky off-roading to the 4x4's, but the ground clearance is plenty to clear most deep puddles and rocks. And of course there's the 800mm water wading depth, though we wouldn't recommend that you put that to the test unnecessarily. Where the Everest 2.2L does well is fuel economy; in the city we clocked in 8.7 km/l with medium traffic, while on the highway we averaged 12.7 km/l on the highway (88 km/h average speed) with 4 passengers.
The best thing about the 2016 Ford Everest 2.2L Trend is its price. At PhP 1,539,000, this version of what is fast becoming Ford's best selling SUV in the Philippines has bang for the buck written all over it.
All things considered, the Ford Everest Trend performed surprisingly well, exceeding my expectations after driving the Titanium Premium with all the bells, whistles, and even the kitchen sink. With the Everest Trend, Ford achieves a very difficult balancing act with design, performance, fuel economy, comfort, features and more, delivering a sufficiently aspirational car while keeping the price in check.
Such is the reason why the 2016 Ford Everest 2.2L Trend 4x2 deserves an overall 10 by my book, and is probably (to the best of my memory) the first one we've driven here to do so.