I grew up out bush, where if you drove a four-wheel drive it was because you went four-wheel driving. You, know, where you actually need one. Given my background, I'll admit to having judged those drivers; extra large latte in hand, barely visible behind the bulk of their giant steering wheel squeezing through peak hour traffic, Timmy and five friends in the back beneath a mountain of sports equipment.
But you know what they say — don't judge someone before you drive a few hundred kilometres in their luxury 4x4. So I took Ford's top-spec Everest Titanium for a spin through the city and beyond. Instead of filling the backseats with my padawan and his friends to see how it hauls a family, though, I've decided to focus squarely on the tech side of things, putting the Everest's safety and in-car features to the test to see how they can enhance — or get in the way of — your experience.
What Is It?
- Engine: 3.2L diesel 5-cylinder
- Gearbox: 6sp automatic
- Entertainment System: 8-inch SYNC2, touchscreen
- Bluetooth: Yes (phone and media streaming)
- Fuel consumption: 8.5L/100km
The $83,751 (starting price) Titanium sits at the far (pricier, fancier) end of Ford's Everest 4x4 range, a 3.2L Diesel with voice-controlled GPS, a panoramic power sunroof and 20-inch alloy wheels. You can get yourself into a new Everest for a hair over $60,000, so there's a significant price gap between the base-level Ambiente and the Titanium, which adds a plethora of safety features.
Build around the Ranger ute — although it seriously doesn't look like it, especially from the outside — the Everest Titanium fits seven, with leather trimmed seats making up the front two rows, and the electric-controlled back row having the ability to be split in half to fit more of that sports equipment in. The front two seats have fully adjustable lumbar support, plus they are heated.
Sync 2 is Ford's in-vehicle communications and entertainment platform for this model — all Everest models will be upgraded to Sync3 later in 2016. Sync 2 seperates functions into four separate pages — Phone, Radio, Climate and Entertainment, of which almost all of the settings can be controlled by natural voice commands using a button on the steering wheel.
Oh, and there's parking assist. *raises hands to the sky*
What's It Good At?
The diesel five-cylinder Everest's fuel efficiency was outstanding, especially taking into account the size of the car and the huge variations in the environments it was driven in. A single tank took me from Sydney's Inner West to the Northern Beaches then up to the Blue Mountains all over the period of a week, with plenty of city driving in between.
It wasn't even cold and I used the heating in the front seats. The comfort level is through the roof — driving this car was like maneuvering a sensor-enabled couch (in the best possible way). It was glorious. I want these seats to be the only seats I ever sit on again.
Speaking of sensors, they are what really made this experience great for me. Parking in spaces I never thought possible was a breeze. My car space is tiny. I'd barely get a regular ute in my spot, let alone a giant 4WD. Even without using parking assist (which is great) I never had to worry about hitting anyone or anything.
Remember those lattes I mentioned? Well there's plenty of places to hold them. Behold, the plethora of cup receptacles!
Being warned of other vehicles getting a bit too close in bumper-to-bumper traffic was also incredibly comforting, as is the rear camera, which you can run during parking as well as during stop-start city traffic. On such a big car — and the Everest is big — a rear camera is almost a necessity, even if just for the peace of mind while you're reversing.
Sync 2 works well across the board, as well. Navigation is easy to set — you don't have to enter each part of the address individually, you can just punch the whole thing in. Voice control was even fully functional with my phone's music apps — and it sounds glorious on the Titanium's specced-up speaker system. Even at full blast, distortion was at a minimum.
There are plenty of places to charge your phone and other devices with four 12-volt outlets, two USB ports and a proper 240-volt household power point. No extra inverter needed means you can take the Everest camping and use it to blow up an air bed with an electric pump, for example — these are things that you might not use every day, but that come in handy more often than you'd think.
What's It Not Good At?
Considering the luxury status of this model, and the quality of the rest of the interior, plastic panels on the doors and dash honestly took me by surprise. It seems a real departure from the high-end feel of the rest of the car. It's definitely an advantage if you have kids in the back seats that love throwing their schoolbags around, but it doesn't have the same semi-luxurious feel as other SUVs in its price bracket.
The back row, while easy to convert depending on your needs, leaves a little to be desired in the legroom department. For reference, I am 161cm tall and blessed with my Greek father's short legs. This back row is definitely for the smaller in stature to ensure any level of comfort for any length of time.
Although I loved the traffic warnings at first, they did get a little too much. Being alerted to a mild change in conditions every 30 seconds was beyond annoying, and there seems to be no simple way to turn them off other than cancelling your navigation altogether — which is impossible to do while the car is in motion in any way whatsoever. Sync2 is great, but sometimes it's a little too enthusiastic.
Should You Buy It?
Price: from $60,000 ($83,\751 as tested)
- Exceptional comfort.
- Great safety and parking features.
- Decent navigation and entertainment system.
- Lower-end interior.
- Limited leg room in third row.
- Whilst most are welcomed, the warnings can get a little annoying.
I really enjoyed my time with Ford's new Everest. It watched my blind spot for me, helped me parallel park, ensured a comfortable drive — either long or short distance — and was great on fuel.
But you've got to look at what it is, and what you're getting for the price. Bottom line is, the circa-$80,000 Everest Titanium is built around the Ranger ute, and although disguised well little touches like that plastic interior give it away, even with the faux leather stitching to distract you.
It's got a decent amount of power behind it — at no point did I feel like I was lagging, and it is truly a pleasure to drive. It is comfortable, luxurious and packed with handy, easy to navigate tech.
So to those latte-sipping soccer Mums, I've got one thing to say: I think you're on to something.