(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2017 Ford Everest Ambiente 2.2 AT: Rugged By Nature, Friendly By Virtue

2016 was the year of the midsize body-on-frame SUVs, unofficially also known as PPVs or pick-up based passenger vehicles, in order to separate the segment from the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Grand Santa Fe, and the like. After being handed over to the keys of the new Ford Everest in base Ambiente trim, I finally have a thorough taste of how this base Everest stacks up among the new crop of PPVs. How does it compare? Let’s find out.

Exterior

As this is the base Ambiente trim, the Everest is devoid of any chrome detailing found in the Trend and Titanium variants, and instead flaunts black plastic details that evoke a stronger sense of ruggedness over the more upmarket or softer, more elegant-looking Trend and Titanium variants. The wheels are also utilizing small-ish 17-inch alloy wheels in 265/65 R17 all-season tires, which means that the ride should be theoretically better than the Titanium’s 20-inchers with low profile 265/50 R20 road tires. As a whole package, the Everest Ambients would be the perfect variant to those who place ruggedness above all else. People who think that the PPVs nowadays look too car-like and a lot less tough than they used to be. Perhaps the Ambiente Everest still manages to look cool enough to be used in the set of Zombieland.

Interior

The stronger sense of ruggedness of the base Everest also extends to the spacious interior, which utilizes hard wearing plastics, creating an interior that is somewhat more durable, albeit less premium. The absence of the new-for-2017 SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system means that Ford’s SYNC 1 with a smaller screen, but more user friendly display is in place. The black interior (which is also now an option for the Titanium variants) looks cooler than the beige interior option of the Titanium variant, and will prove to be easier to maintain in the long term. While it does look spartan, there are still some cool features, such as the aforementioned SYNC 1 infotainment system with Bluetooth telephone and audio, USB ports, and a decent sounding 8-speaker audio system.

Space and Practicality

The Everest’s interior is spacious and practical, with plenty of room for all passengers from the first, up to the third row of seats. However, going into the third row of seats are somewhat of a chore, especially for bigger people. While the second row seats are easy to move with a single pull of a lever, the opening created by the second row of seats is small. Once in the third row of seats though, adults can sit comfortably, thanks to the second row of seats being able to slide forward and backward, enabling the third row passengers to bargain for space. Emphasizing the spaciousness of the Everest are the seats themselves being thin, but are still comfortable enough for most people, with great thigh support and reclining seats for all occupants.

If the third row of seats are not in use, it easily folds flat to the floor with a simple tug of the straps, revealing what seems to be the most practical trunk in the class due to its very square shape. In terms of overall practicality, I have yet to see a PPV with a trunk space as practical and as flat as the Everest’s with the third row seats folded. While the Montero’s folds flat, the seat, however, tumble forward. which still offsets the flat loading area of the Montero. The MU-X’s and Trailblazer’s, meanwhile, has a large loading lip due to the storage box, and the least practical here is the Fortuner’s with the third row seats hooked up to the side of the trunk with what seems to be cheap velcro, enough to make the seats come crashing down if the vehicle hits a large bump. Fold the Everest’s second row seats, and you’re left with a completely flat interior that is enough to rival a van’s square interior shape.

The Everest is also blessed with plenty of storage spaces. There are cup holders on all three rows of seats, plus there are decently-sized storage bins on all four doors. The illuminated glove box is large, and the center console bin is also practical enough for most people’s things.

Features

The Ford Everest Ambiente utilizes Ford’s SYNC 1 infotainment system with Bluetooth telephone and audio, power windows and locks all around, and a decent sounding 8-speaker audio system.

Powertrain

The Ford Everest Ambiente is powered by Ford’s 2.2 liter inline-4 TDCI diesel engine, which produces 160 hp @ 3,200 rpm, and 385 Nm of torque @ 1,600-2,500 rpm. There are two transmission choices, a 6-Speed manual or automatic transmission.

How It Drives

With my expectations to PPVs set generally low, I have zero expectations on PPVs being as nice to drive or as refined as similarly priced compact crossovers such as the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, or Hyundai Tucson, but upon starting up the engine, the 2.2 liter diesel engine breathes to life in a refined and quiet manner that was clearly above my expectations, signifying the start of great surprises to come as I drive away in this Ford Everest 2.2 liter Ambiente.

Traversing through city traffic meant that I was able to evaluate the Everest’s maneuverability, and for such a large vehicle, the Everest was surprisingly nimble, thanks to the well damped suspension that provides a great balance between ride and body control, and mostly in large part due to the Everest’s light electrically assisted steering. Slotting in and out of traffic gaps is as easy as driving a car or a crossover due to the light nature of the steering, and though accurate, barely provides any feedback for confidence inspiring spirited driving, which in any case, isn’t the purpose of a large SUV anyway. While in the city, the trip computed said I was consuming 14.4 l/100 km (6.9 km/l’), but do note that I was heavy footed at that time in order to evaluate the car’s response in overtaking and nipping in and out through gaps in traffic.

Despite the power and torque figures of the 2.2 liter diesel engine being lower compared to the Everest’s 3.2 liter engine options by 40 hp and 85 Nm, there was never a time in which I begged for more power. The 2.2 liter diesel engine and the 6-Speed automatic are a match made in heaven. The 6-Speed automatic is telepathic, being at the right gear for most of the time I wanted it to be in when overtaking or accelerating from stoplights. As the Everest accelerates, the engine noise does not become too obtrusive, and though it is still not as refined as those found on  similarly priced compact crossovers, its overall great refinement is a far cry from the Monteros and Fortuners of old which truly felt like commercial truck based SUVs from the day they were made.

As I escape the confines of the city and go through some open roads, the Ford Everest is a willing partner. The strong engine pulls in a linear manner that it almost feels like a petrol engine in terms of response and linearity of how the power is delivered. Sudden heavy applications of the gas pedal exposes the engine’s turbo lag as the turbos spool up to meet your foot’s demands, but the gearbox is telepathically willing to downshift, masking the lag by the turbos, which make the engine feel very responsive to pedal inputs. These class of vehicles are never known for their great handling, but the Everest is capable in the corners, feeling stable as it enters and exits the bends, as long as you don’t treat it like a Mazda CX-5, wherein the suspension can only do so much to limit the laws of physics acting upon the Ford Everest. Once you realize you’re not driving a sport oriented vehicle, the brakes have a progressive feel that is confidence inspiring, effectively scrubbing speed. While out in the open road, fuel economy improves to 8.7 l/100 km (11 km/l’).

As I enter our village to take snapshots of this car, I start to evaluate the Ford Everest’s suspension over bumps and potholes. No, I don’t mean to say that our village is filled with potholes, but like every other village in the Philippines is known for, there are plenty of speed humps all around to mitigate some drivers from carelessly passing through intersections and junctions without stopping, and as it goes through speed humps, the suspension is good enough to prevent this car from bobbing up and down and swaying from side-to-side. The suspension also does a great job of being stable enough to prevent too much nose dives from this large vehicle under emergency braking maneuvers.

Notice that I didn’t mention anything about off-roading? Well, due to the absence of 4WD, plus the lack of any electronic safety features, off-roading was the last test on my mind, but should the situation demand for it, the Everest has 225 mm of ground clearance, which is high enough to clear many rocks, and of course, there’s the 800 mm water wading capability, which should prove useful when traversing floods and if you dare, rivers.

On The Downside

While the Everest is easy to maneuver as a whole, the somewhat thick front pillars is enough to become a blind spot for some drivers. Addtionally, its tall hood meant that a Mazda MX-5 or Toyota 86 will easily hide under the Everest’s girth, which can prove very intimidating to some people when driving in bumper to bumper traffic. Lastly, while this is the base Everest Ambiente, with a relatively affordable price of P1,399,000*, I think that electronic safety aids such as traction control and anti-skid control should be standard, especially since the Isuzu MU-X LS-A, which its entry price is close to the Everest’s Ambiente, is equipped with such features.

Verdict

PPVs have come a pretty long way since they became popular in the Philippines around the year 2005 when the Toyota Fortuner came out. The Filipino people really love their PPVs, proof of it are the skyrocketing sales of the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu MU-X, Ford Everest, and the likes. With Filipino families’ demands ever so slightly increasing as innovations are made and technologies keep on improving, the Ford Everest is right smack in the renaissance of PPVs in our market, and despite being the first to be released in this wave of new PPVs in our market, its head is held up high as sales last year of the Everest are pegged at around 18,000 units, officially the 8th best selling car in the country. If that’s not proof of the Filipino’s love for PPVs, then I don’t know what is, and the Everest, even in Ambiente trim, is a compelling proposition for families, with its affordable price tag, well mannered driving dynamics, and great features for the price.

More Photos

Price: P1,399,000

Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Practicality:  ★★★★★
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

*: Pricing may change without prior notice, especially with the looming excise tax.
‘: Fuel consumption may vary per driver and situation.