The Ford Everest started off as a SUV derivative of the Ranger pick-up, a simple approach which allowed it to have competitive pricing. It entered that market 15 years ago as a rival to the Toyota Fortuner which is also a derivative of a pick-up (the Hilux) and later, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport joined.
These three SUVs filled the segment left empty with the departure of the big Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Land Cruiser which had been dominant in the 1980s and 1990s but had become more expensive for markets like Malaysia.
However, with the second generation of the Everest which was launched here 2 years ago, Ford seemed to choose a direction that took it further upmarket. It became a more premium product with higher quality fittings and trim, and it was given more advanced technologies. Unfortunately, technology adds cost and where the price of the Everest was under RM150,000 in 2004 (it was assembled locally), the latest one is now over RM200,000.
Above the RM200,000 level, many customers would start to think of German brands. They may cost brand new but pre-registered units tend to go for less. So it’s a big challenge for Sime Darby Auto Connexion (SDAC) to sell the SUV and while Ford can’t bring the price down, what it’s done is to try to provide justification by strengthening the features list with more value-added items.
The latest Everest which has just arrived in the showrooms is now also available with new-generation engine which is a product of the powertrain downsizing strategy. It’s a 4-cylinder 2-litre bi-turbo diesel of a new EcoBlue generation. As the description indicates, it has two turbochargers (supplied by Borg-Warner) and they run sequentially, one for low pressure-low rev operation and the other taking over for higher pressure at high revs. Having two turbochargers offers some advantages, among them weight-saving as the units can be smaller. Smaller turbines also spin up faster, eliminating turbo lag, and these are said to be able to run up to 240,000 rpm.
Available only with the Titanium version, the 213 ps/500 Nm 2-litre engine – which is 13 ps/30 Nm more than the 3.2-litre 5-cylinder engine used before – is coupled to an advanced 10-speed automatic transmission (both Titanium and Trend versions). For the many motorists who still drive vehicles with 4 or 5 gears in their transmission, the idea of a 10-speeder must be mind-blowing but the trend of adding more and more gears has been going on since the beginning of the 2000s.
In the case of the transmission in the Everest, 6 of the ratios have a ratio greater than 1:1, with the seventh being 1:1, and the top three are overdrive ratios that help to significantly lower revs. Having so many ratios allows closer and optimized spacing which, in turn, reduces gaps in power delivery for enhanced acceleration. Transitions between gears can be smoother so uphill climbs can be done more steadily.
Drivability has also been refined in the latest Everest, both for highway and off-roading motoring. The ride is said to be significantly smoother with a quieter passenger experience. Revised suspension geometry also improves ride and handling. However, it is still a tall vehicle and should be driven with that point in mind at all times even if there is the roll-over mitigation system that can help prevent it from tipping over.
New features include hands-free power tailgate that opens when your foot is positioned under the rear bumper, SYNC 3, keyless entry and pushbutton start/stop enhances driver convenience. SYNC 3 has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and comes with Bluetooth, 10 speakers, and an 8.0-inch full color touchscreen.
The driver assistance technologies that have been available before are retained and include Cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiter, Multi-intelligent Instrument Cluster, Terrain Management System and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert to detect vehicles approaching from either side while reversing out of a parking bay.
The appearance of the Everest’s remains unchanged but there are subtle cosmetic changes like a new grille treatment incorporating a secondary grille texture against the chrome brightwork. The Everest Titanium features a 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheel design, while darker wheel accents further accentuate the machine-cut surface of the alloy.
Inside, the spacious cabin has a new ebony-coloured theme which gives a more premium ambience. Soft-touch surfaces at contact points improve comfort and quality, while contrast stitching and shadow chrome highlights add a touch of classiness.
Additionally, in the new Everest Titanium, extra space is available at a press of a button including 8-way power front seats and power-fold third-row seating.
“We are excited for our customers to get behind the wheel of the new Everest, and experience first-hand the ultimate pleasure the new Everest provides on any adventure,” said Syed Ahmad Muzri Syed Faiz, MD of Sime Darby Auto Connexion.
Available with a choice of 4 colours, the Everest priced at RM228,888 for the Trend version and RM258,888 for the more extensively equipped Titanium version.
Visit www.sdacford.com.my to find showroom locations in Malaysia to view and test-drive various Ford models.