08La Union and Baler are two of the most popular go-to places in Northern Luzon if you want to enjoy the sand, surf, and sunshine. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for us when we went there last week with Ford Philippines. Instead, what met us were gray, cold, and heavy rains for the three entire days. While we didn’t get to go swim or sunbathe, at least it let us focus on the real agenda at hand – our first drive of the refreshed 2020 Ford Everest.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Launched earlier this year, we got to drive both the new Everest Titanium and Everest Titanium 4x4 during our three-day trip to the north. Now, on the outside, it doesn’t look much different. In fact, it is nearly identical to the pre-facelift model aside from a few minor changes. In particular, the only new external parts are the grill, fog light housing, bumper, and wheels. If we go into the smaller details, the badging on the fenders are also new. Depending on the variant, it now says either “Everest” or “BiTurbo” – which should give you an idea of what’s been changed in the Everest.

Despite the styling changes being kept to a minimum, the Everest certainly looks a lot fresher and modern than the pre-facelift model. It looks particularly good in the new bronze (or mocha?) paint job.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Inside, it’s the same story as the Everest’s exterior. There’s nothing new as all the features of the previous Everest Titanium seem to have been carried over to the 2020 model. It features the same accessories and continues to feature a lot of amenities including the SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multiple USB ports, and even a 230V power inverter. The steering wheel controls are still there as well, making it easier to change music and to check out vehicle information on the fly.

Now some might see this as a let-down because it is supposed to be a refreshed model, but it barely has any changes. But honestly, not changing anything is fine. Why change something that doesn’t need to be tinkered with? Retaining the same exterior and interior also allows those who plan on upgrading from the pre-facelift Everest to the new one to be welcomed by a familiar, at the same time subtly better sight.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Rather than restyling the Everest inside and out, Ford decided to focus on something more important – the engine and powertrain. Gone are the old 2.2-liter and 3.2-liter diesel units, and in its place is a new 2.0-liter EcoBlue turbo-diesel mill. The new power plant also comes with two states of tune, and is paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

On our first day, we got to drive the more powerful bi-turbo version with 213 PS, 500 Nm torque and equipped with permanent four-wheel drive. If that engine and power figure sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same engine as the one found in the Ranger Raptor. With the new mill, the Everest does get to speed a lot faster than the previous 3.2-liter mill. On the highway, it was a lot easier to overtake the slower cars.

However, the new 10-speed transmission on the 4x4 version does seem to have a bit of lag. Simply putting your foot down will only spike the revs, and won’t necessarily equate to going fast. Instead, it takes a few seconds for the transmission to find the proper gear. One workaround for this is by choosing the gear yourself by going from D to S. Once it is in the right gear, though, the Everest really gets going. If you aren’t careful, you might even break the speed limit.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Despite being more powerful, the new Ranger Raptor engine made the Everest 4x4 more fuel-efficient too. On the expressway, we managed to average around 13.7 km/l while cruising at 100km/h. However, the figure did drop to around 10km/L on the provincial highways. Still not a bad number considering we had to overtake a lot of tricycles.

When it comes to comfort, the 2020 Everest rides a lot better than its predecessor. Even on the rough mountain roads, it was more forgiving as compared to the firmer ride of the pre-facelift model. As a driver, you also get to feel more of the roads as well. At the back, it was comfortable enough that some of us were able to sleep even on the winding roads. The steering wheel isn’t too light unlike before, allowing more of the feedback to be felt. However, it’s still on the lighter side when going at slow speeds.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Going up the twisty mountain roads of Baler, the new Everest handled more like a car than a PPV. Attacking the corners, there was not a lot of body roll and the Everest felt planted the whole time.

On our second day driving to La Union and on the drive back to Manila, we got acquainted with the new ‘base’ model – the Titanium 4x2 version. Visually, it’s the same as the 4x4 apart from the lack of a sunroof. Inside, it’s the same as well, apart from missing 4x4 and diff locking switches.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

Personally, I expected it to pretty much be the same as the 4x4. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. The ride of the standard Titanium version was noticeably more comfortable compared to the 4x4. For reference, we were carrying the same amount of equipment in the back too.

Under the hood, the Titanium 4x2 packed the less powerful single-turbo engine which produces 180 PS and 420 Nm torque. Despite the decrease in power, the Everest was still as capable as its Ranger Raptor powered counterpart. Power came on more quickly, but it felt a bit lacking at higher RPMs. Still, it was more than enough to overtake slow-moving cars both on the expressway and the provincial highways.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

I wish we got to spend more time with the Everest as it did come with some new features as well, such as the hands free tailgate. However, we only got to try it out once during one of Ford Philippines’ media challenges. 

While the styling changes may not be as remarkable as other facelifted PPVs in the market, Ford chose to focus on the engine, powertrain, and suspension. And the result is a big improvement in driving, power, and comfort. Compared to the pre-facelift model, the 2020 Everest sure has undergone a huge improvement, especially considering it still rides on the same T6 platform as the Ranger.

Same looks, new tricks: 2020 Ford Everest image

So, we didn’t get any sun in both Baler and La Union. But, we did get very hands-on with the 2020 Everest. Hopefully, we’ll soon get to try it out on the traffic-laden streets of Metro Manila. But for that, you’ll have to wait for our full review. For now, though, we can say that we were definitely impressed with how the Everest has performed.