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Ford Everest Trend RWD Review

Visually, the rear-wheel drive (RWD) Ford Everest Trend is almost impossible to pick from 4WD versions

Ford Everest Trend RWD Road Test

Visually, the rear-wheel drive (RWD) Ford Everest Trend is almost impossible to pick from 4WD versions. Same with the drive experience contributed to by the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel, the packaging and the towing abilities. So, other than a $5000 price saving over the $60,990 (plus ORCs) 4WD Trend, what’s the point? We find out…
Same but different
Apart from a small, essentially useless, receptacle in the centre console, there’s precious little that visually separates Ford’s rear-wheel drive Everest Trend from its four-wheel drive equivalent.
For a saving of $5000 over the 4WD version, buyers of the rear-drive Everest Trend get a high-riding, high-spec’ed seven-seater that, to all intents and purposes, does most of the things expected by most people who buy large SUVs today.
No, the RWD Everest won’t take you very far off-road, but it will, if you insist, take you a little further than some so-called SUVs with the help of its 225mm ground clearance and the same wheel/tyre combination as the 4WD Trend.
It will also capably deal with a trailer/horse float/caravan weighing as much as 3000kg – although its 595kg payload is down about 100kg on the 4WD Trend. And it would maybe be nice to see some sort of locker differential among the few options.
The simplified driveline also means a reduction in kerb weight of around 100kg, translating to a slightly better power-weight ratio and a tiny improvement in fuel economy which goes down, officially, from 8.5 to 8.4L/100km. In the real world, this figure appears to undersell the RWD Everest as our test car averaged 9.4L/100km compared with 10.6L/100km recorded on a previous test of a base-level Ambiente.
Emissions are down fractionally too, from 224 to 221kg/km.
In truth, for many Everest customers, the RWD configuration will barely be noticed. Other than simple visual cures such as that little receptacle that replaces the familiar driveline controller in other Everests and the lack of a 4WD badge on the tailgate, you’ll need to grovel under the car to find there’s no driveshafts to the front wheels, and no low-range transfer case attached to the gearbox.
The RWD Everest Trend (and its 4WD equivalent) get an intriguing equipment upgrade over the base (4WD) Ambiente that brings, not unusually for Ford, the odd contradiction but helps explain why, in this case, RWD can actually cost $1000 more than 4WD.
On trend
Visually, the Trend brings a touch of chrome brightwork here and there (grille, front guard “vents” and tailgate garnish strip), a bit of colour-coding on the wing mirrors and door handles and 18-inch six-spoke alloy wheels to set it apart from the base Everest.
The product planners have wisely chosen to give both Trend models an equipment line-up that includes some current-tech safety gear including radar cruise control, lane-keep assist, and forward collision alert. On top of that, they’ve loaded it up with a power tailgate, climate-control (incorporating roof vents through to the second and third rows),
Ford’s new SYNC3 communications including Ocker-accented voice control, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, and 10-speaker audio (including DAB+ digital radio but hampered by lousy AM reception in the country).
There are also auto projector beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a reversing camera and parking sensors front and rear – but, for all this, sat-nav remains optional at $600, there’s no rear cross-traffic alert or blind-spot monitor, and no power adjustment for the front seats.
We’ve talked about this ad infinitum, but the Ford Everest’s packaging, identical across the range, makes for a pretty useful big SUV.
Minimum boot space is quoted at 450 litres, opening up to a sizeable 2010 litres with all bar the front seats folded, and the set-up process involves a simple, one-movement action leaving no awkward bumps or barriers to the loading of bulky paraphernalia.
Similar in size to its competitors (Holden Trailblazer, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Isuzu MU-X and Toyota Fortuner), the Everest makes a pretty good fist of providing for passengers in all three rows. There’s easy rearmost seat access and good shoulder, foot and headroom in the first two rows. And, while the third-row seats understandably aren’t a long-term proposition for adults, they are viable for not-so-tall folks on short trips.
The general deal, in terms of overall packaging, is virtually the same as any other Everest.
And so, perhaps surprisingly, is the drive experience.
The long drive
The 143kW/470Nm 3.2-litre turbo-diesel is omnipresent, with its five-cylinder smoothness partly counteracted by the guttural noise that seeps into the cabin. This is exacerbated by a quick-to-respond accelerator pedal that momentarily lifts revs to produce a surge and a muffled roar that is particularly noticeable at lower speeds. The power/weight ratio is an improvement over 4WD Everests, but still not at quite the same levels as, for example, Holden’s Trailblazer or Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport. The RWD Everest never quite feels spritely.
If there’s any difference in the way it handles, it’s impossible to find: It feels about the same as 4WD versions in terms of ride quality and steering response and, with an identical final drive ratio, it notches up the same rpm at cruising speeds.
As the donor Ranger workhorse ute rates well in its class terms of ride comfort and general road behaviour, the Everest undoubtedly started from a reasonably high base.
And though it runs a shorter wheelbase than the Ranger, the use of coil rear springs adds a different dimension to its general road behaviour, particularly the ride.
That said, the tradie-based Everest doesn’t, and can’t, offer the same degree of bump-absorption as the independently-sprung Toyota Kluger or Hyundai Santa Fe.
The steering, at 3.4 turns from lock to lock, is reasonably quick for a ute-based SUV although it’s maybe a little lighter than expected – which will undoubtedly suit many drivers intimidated by the Everest’s 2300kg bulk.
From the inside
In-cabin irritations include the height-only steering column adjustment and a tiny, truly silly and hard to see bar-graph tacho that snuggles up against an almost equally unreadable fuel gauge. Why it’s even there in the first place is puzzling.
So, does RWD in a seven-seat SUV normally seen as a proper off-road performer make sense?
Considering the way most customers put their 4WDs to use, there is – as with other similar-size but different-concept offerings such as the road-focussed Kluger and Santa Fe – plenty to argue in its favour.
And, lined up against its 4WD Trend equivalent, the $5000 saving will surely speak to some buyers – although you can buy a dinkum off-road, top-spec Holden Trailblazer,
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Isuzu MU-X for less. Only the Toyota Fortuner runs head-to-head with the Everest range in terms of price spread, at least at the upper levels.
Bottom line – Everests are expensive in their class.
In the end, it’s all a matter of how much leverage, in terms of street credibility, the RWD Everest Trend will get from its respected 4WD stablemates.
2017 Ford Everest Trend RWD pricing and specifications:
Price: $55,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel
Output: 143kW/470Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 8.4L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 224g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP
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