Since its launch back in August 2015, we've held the Ford Everest in high regard. Perhaps it's because it was such a huge leap ahead of its predecessor or maybe it represented a new wave of PPVs in the local market. Regardless, the Everest has proved to be a big hit for Ford and it shows no signs of losing momentum anytime soon.
To keep it competitive, Ford gave the Everest a bit of an update for the 2017 model year. Like the Ranger, the changes are subtle technical updates. I've only had a few short trips with an Everest and I will admit that I haven't driven one before before. Fortunately, that has been rectified.
Like the updated Ranger, there are virtually no changes to the exterior of the 2017 Everest. It's still the same imposing PPV that we've been seeing on the roads for two years now. I do have to say that it looks purposeful thanks to that bold front fascia design. The blistered fenders give it a wider stance on the road while the side bares minimal detail with not much in the way of character lines.
As imposing at the front looks, the rear is a bit of a contrast with softer curves and I do wish they went a little easier on the silver and chrome trim. I do have to say that the 20-inch alloy wheels look handsome and fills up the wheel wells quite nicely. All in all, the transition from pickup to PPV is seamless.
If you've stepped inside a Ranger then the Everest's cabin shouldn't be much of a surprise. It has the same dash layout, design and ergonomics as its pick-up brother but there have been changes since its first debut. 2015 to early 2016 Everest owners will notice that the interior is now different. From the tan and gray combination, it moves to a black and gray theme. Personally, I prefer the old look as the tan color made the cabin look even more commodious. Still, the black seats and trim mean it will easier to clean and maintain in the long run. Besides, the panoramic glass roof lets in a lot of light into the cabin.
Another difference is the new Sync 3 infotainment system. Now featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it's much easier and less cluttered than the old Sync 2 unit. With a better layout and clearer menus, you no longer have to look far too long at the screen trying to figure it out. In top-spec form, the Everest is generously equipped with seven charging points; four 12v sockets, two USB ports and a 230v outlet.
As one would expect of an SUV this size, the Everest offers a lot of space. Even with taller passengers in front, there's still a generous amount of legroom at the back. Plus, with a sliding second row, third row passengers don't have to bury their knees into the next row's backrests. Another smart touch is the rear grab handle to make entry to the second-row easier. This being the Titanium Premium model, power-fold third-row seats are standard. As far as packaging goes, the Everest scores highly.
No surprises in guessing what's under the hood. It's the same 3.2-liter Duratorq turbodiesel found in the pre-update model and the Ranger. The inline-five engine produces 200 PS and 470 Nm of torque and it shifts via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. Unlike its rivals, the top-spec Everest runs on permanent four-wheel drive whereas the others run on two wheel drive until four-wheel drive is selected.
The first thing I noticed when I started the Everest was the sound isolation. To be honest, I was expecting it to have the same amount of noise as the Ranger. It's noticeably quieter than its pick-up counterpart. What makes it impressive is the fact that it has a glass roof which usually lets more noise in. It wasn't the case in the Everest. Things get even smoother once you're on the move. As the revs even out, it becomes a fairly quiet cruiser, as well as a comfortable one. It seems like Ford added more sound deadening as last year's model still had a fair amount of intrusion.
Given that it's a PPV, I was expecting a bit of a harsh ride as it also rides on those 20-inch rims. I rode the pre-updated Trend on smaller 18-inch wheels and noticed that there is a fair amount of stiffness when seated at the back. I was pleasantly surprised that the new one has less impact harshness, even with the big rims on the Titanium. Sure, it still has that hint of firmness all PPVs seem to have but the updated Everest is perhaps one of the most comfortable ones to drive for city drives.
The Everest shines even more on the highway. The supple ride, hushed cabin and supportive seats make it a competent long-distance traveler. Plus, the 3.2-liter turbodiesel makes quick work of getting up to highway speeds. With reserves of power, overtaking is as simple as a squeeze of the throttle. Mash the pedal however and it will lag for a short bit but then deliver a hefty surge one the turbo spools. Should you decide to take the Everest on winding roads, it still delivers with its safe and secure handling. Not bad for an SUV that weighs nearly 2,500 kg.
So it's competent on the road but what if you fancy going off the pavement? To be honest, I wasn't optimistic because of those big rims which are shod on road tires. Still, I pressed on to see how it goes and I could report that it takes on the beaten path impressively.
For the most part, I didn't have to put it on low range thanks to permanent four-wheel drive. When it was slicker, simply select one of the various modes in the Terrain Management System and let the car do the work. Grass, mud and rocks weren't much of a challenge for the Everest, even when slopes got steeper. I also made full use of Hill Descent Control which added confidence when taking on the rough stuff. The ride off-road wasn't bad either, much to my surprise.
Of course, the Everest isn't perfect. As much as I like the steering feel in the Ranger Wildtrak, it's the other way around for the Everest. It's devoid of feel and I wish it offered more feedback on the go but at least it's sharp and direct. Also, having permanent four-wheel drive takes a toll on fuel economy. With an average speed of 17 km/h in the city, the car displayed 7.7 kilometers per liter on the trip computer. Then again, it's packing a 3.2-liter diesel with five cylinders. On the highway, that figure moves up to a respectable 13.0 kilometers per liter at an average speed of 90 km/h.
With this update, prices have gone up and goes past the two million peso mark. At Php 2,109,000 is sounds expensive given that most of its competitors are just a little under two million pesos. But when you consider all the standard kit, safety equipment, the off-road hardware (and software), and the impressive performance and handling, it's actually worth it.
Like the Ranger, the Everest is one of those few cars that's difficult to fault thanks to its abilities. Two years may have passed since its launch but that hasn't taken the shine off the Everest one bit.