I will admit that off-roading is something that I've always wanted to do. With ads showing SUVs tackling tough trails and crossing rivers, the modern 4x4 promises the ability to climb every mountain and ford every stream. I was finally able to take on the beaten path after Ford Philippines invited us for a spot of light off-roading in Tanay with the Everest.
When they said 'light off-roading', I was imagining a dusty trails with the occasional slippery incline to show the capabilities of their PPV. Turns out, it was quite the opposite.
We first met up in Ford Libis and after a brief discussion, we made our way to Rizal. Still on pavement, the ride confirmed by take on the Everest in my past review. It's comfortable, punchy and a surprisingly adept handler on the twisties. Sure, it weighs in the region of two tons but as far as PPVs go, this is a good steer. On the way there, we encountered moderately heavy rains, which should make the trail more interesting.
After the quick drive, we arrived at our first stop: the property of off-road guru Beeboy Bargas. There, he discussed the principles of going off-road and repeated the term 'commitment'. Cue the hugot lines. Kidding aside, when Beeboy mentioned that we will be making full use of the Everest's Terrain Management System (TMS), I knew that this was not going to be a light trail.
A brief drive took us to the start of the trail and we were advised to set the TMS to Mud, Sand and Snow mode, shut off the stability control and lock the rear differential. It was a relatively slippery uphill path but it was nothing compared to the trail we drove along later on. It was a narrow path that can make any rookie get lost in the middle of nowhere and the soil later turned into goo. It's where I learned my first lesson in off-roading: Never trail alone.
When wet, red clay becomes extra treacherous. Even as I tried to keep the car straight, the slick surface threatened to pitch the Everest sideways. And then came the first of many slippery ascents. Focused on the task at hand, I maintained throttle input, gunned it up the hill and learned my second lesson: It's all about commitment.
Being born with the gene for vehicular sympathy, I felt bad when I ran over some rough patches at speed, as well as gunning the engine when we had to climb over even steeper slopes. Twigs and branches occasionally smacked the Everest's once pristine paint. The step boards came perilously close to getting more damage too. On top of those, the suspension also had one heck of a workout, occasionally making the most of this PPV's articulation. Despite all that, the Everest took it like a champ and the third lesson of the day way this: There will be scrapes and scratches when you trail.
Scrolling through the SUV's on-board computer, there was a handy altimeter letting me know steering angle, as well as pitch and roll angles. These, combined with the TMS and Hill Descent Control (HDC), made it easier for me to attack obstacles with more confidence. If anything, the tech in the Everest made me feel like a hero on the tough trail. That brought me to my fourth lesson of the trip: Trust your gear.
At this point, the term 'light off-roading' became a bit of an understatement. The Everests got a mud shower, tires were wrapped in goo and we all made full use of the off-road hardware and software. Despite the challenging conditions, the Everest didn't break a sweat. There wasn't even the need to shift it into 4x4 Low with the TMS doing most of the hard work. If anything, Ford has made a vehicle that is friendly to first-time off-roaders, as well as one that is capable to suit the needs of the seasoned veterans. It was a tough trail but it was all worth it when we got to our lunch spot in the great outdoors. This brings me neatly to the last lesson I learned: There are bigger adventures when you take the road less traveled.
As for the Ford Everest, it pretty much confirms our high praises for this particular PPV. Years have passed since its launch but it still proves to be a hugely capable and talented vehicle. Only this time, my respect for it has gone up tenfold.