When the current-generation Ford Everest came into the market about five years ago, it was quite the revolution in the world of pickup-based SUVs. It was laden with tech you'd typically find in much more expensive cars, and the interior wouldn't look out of place in a premium vehicle. When I first sat in it, it just felt like a class above the rest.
But five years is a long time in the automotive landscape. Through the years, the Everest has seen a slew of much newer competition, all trying their best to, at the very least, match its tech and capabilities. Almost each and everyone in its competition got more upmarket appointments, more connectivity, much improved ride and handling characteristics, power, and versatility.
Earlier this year, the Everest fought the tide of its rivals by introducing the facelifted model. Not only does it get tweaks under the chassis, it gets a new heart too. With the high expectations set by the pre-facelift model, we expect more out of it.
Thankfully, it delivered.
But before I explain exactly how it did, how can you tell a 2020 Everest from a 2019? The differences are subtle, to say the least. From the front, you might have noticed the slightly flatter garnish around the bottom air intake and fog light housings. There's also the new grill, which now has a three-bar design instead of two. The rear gets LED illumination for the tail lights...and that's pretty much it. A new set of alloy wheels though, which makes the Everest look more upmarket in my eyes. Aside from those changes, it looks familiar.
It's not a bad thing though. I always thought the Everest was a handsome-looking brute. The SUV looks butch and purposeful, and there's almost no bad angle wherever you look at it. Back in 2017, I said it looked imposing and purposeful. I still have the same opinion about it to this day.
If you think the exterior changes are subtle, wait until you hop on board. That's not because there are big changes in there. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Do a quick search of the 2015 Everest's interior and draw it up alongside this new one. You'd be pretty hard-pressed to tell any differences.
Don't get me wrong though, it's still a nice place to be in with a lot of soft touch materials and a generally upmarket feel. Plus, the infotainment system is easy to use and it benefits from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buttons are logically placed and the dash design itself is ergonomically sound. I just wish Ford put in a little more effort to at least spruce up the five-year old interior. Also, I don't know why Ford would remove one USB port in the 2020 edition. In an era where USB ports should ideally equal the number of cupholders, this is a strange omission. At least it has a 230 volt socket at the back.
The Everest is one of the biggest in its class, and it feels that way inside. There's heaps of head, leg, and hip room, so you won't really feel claustrophobic inside. Even the third-row accommodations aren't half bad either, but like every seven-seat SUV out there, it's really best for children or short adults. If you want an SUV with ample legroom in that area, there's always the gargantuan Expedition Max.
When you first look at the 2020 Everest, you're given the impression that it will simply be more of the same. That perception quickly goes away the moment you pop the hood though. Instead of the tried and tested 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine from the past couple of years, you now have a 2.0-liter mill. While it is smaller, it has heaps more power than the engine it replaced. Instead of 160 PS and 380 Nm of torque, this new EcoBlue diesel doles out 180 PS and 420 Nm of torque.
Before you ask why it doesn't make the same power as the Ranger Raptor, what we have here is the two-wheel drive model. If you want the twin-turbo version of this engine, you'll have to go the four-wheel drive Everest. For reference, the extra turbo in that model bumps power and torque up to 213 PS and 500 Nm, respectively. It does get the same 10-speed (yes, 10) automatic as the Raptor though.
You can tell it has a new heart from the moment you start it. It's much quieter than before, and definitely rattles a lot less. You're almost given the impression that you're driving an all-new Everest rather than a facelifted one if it wasn't for that interior. Pull is much stronger, reaching highway speeds with more gusto than before. Passing proved to be effortless, and so did cruising and maintaining speed. If you have a 2.2-liter TDCI Everest, you'll be pleasantly surprised when you try this 2.0-liter EcoBlue out.
Also, the smaller engine also improved the fuel economy of the Everest. Last year's model would typically do about 7.5 kilometers per liter in heavy traffic. This new is much better, registering 8.8 kilometers per liter during its slog in traffic. That's impressive given the fact that it only averaged 18 km/h around the Metro. On the highway, it goes up to an even more impressive 16.7 kilometers per liter at an average pace of 88 km/h. That figure was achieved with a fair bit of passing too. Mixed conditions on the other hand yielded 11.9 kilometers per liter.
The reason why it gets such good fuel mileage is because it has 10 gears to play with. Cruising at 60 km/h would bring you straight to sixth gear, and it was amusing to see eighth gear on the display when I was on the highway. Also, no, I didn't make the transmission reach tenth gear. I'd have to break the speed limit to ever see that happen. One caveat however; I noticed the transmission would occasionally stumble between first and second in traffic. It's not jerky or obtrusive, just noticeable.
Speaking of things I noticed, I felt that the ride was softened up in the 2020 model. Having driven the pre-facelift model, this one was more pliant over the bumps. It's much more comfortable than before, which is saying something because the old one was already pretty good over the rough stuff. For a truck-based SUV, this is as good as it gets among its peers.
Handling on the other hand is still a strong point. It's no Mustang but it feels planted and stable when taking on off-ramps at a decent pace. Sure, the body pitches although you never get the feeling of instability. Again, high marks for the Ford. If there's one thing they can improve upon, it would be the addition of a telescopically adjustable steering wheel. That way, you'll truly find the most ideal driving position.
This two-wheel drive Everest starts at Php 1,995,000. Yes, it's a bit of a shock but just about every top-spec 4x2 mid-sized SUV these days is priced at about that point. I do have to say it's worth the price of admission. It has a great engine, it's efficient, loaded with tech, spacious, practical, and hugely comfortable.
Two years ago, I said the Everest is one of those few vehicles that's difficult to fault. With a new heart, I can say that one of the best pickup-based SUVs just got even better.