Strength In The Midst Of Adversity
Strength isn’t purely dictated by brute force, or by who came first. It is dictated by how long one stands in the midst of adversity, managing to come out strong and tall among fierce rivals. The Ford Everest is one such vehicle. This PPV, or pick-up based passenger vehicle, was the first to come out among this new generation of PPVs, yet after the dust has finally settled, I still think the Ford Everest, especially in this 3.2 Titanium+ variant (the “+” denoting the optional Premium Pack) is the best midsize PPV. Read on to find out why.
And it starts with the looks. Two years since its release, and I still personally think the Everest in this Titanium+ variant is the best looking of the bunch. The SUV’s sheet metal looks clean and modern, without a single line out of place. Its chrome grille is bold without looking over styled, and the side profile is understated, with its clean lines and bold wheel arches. The overall design is not as distinctive as the Toyota Fortuner’s with its floating roof, or as controversial as the Mitsubishi Montero Sport’s with its tall tail lights, but the Everest’s looks isn’t a boring one, either. As a matter of fact, I think it’s beauty with a purpose, a design that isn’t going to bring controversies on how weird the proportions are. Everything is well sculpted and functional, down to its useful rear fog lights. The elegant looks are further elevated by its bright LED daytime running lights, C-shaped LED tail lights, and its beautifully sculpted 20-inch alloy wheels that further make it have the best proportions among the PPV segment. Among the bunch, the Everest will surely age the best with its right balance of imposing aggression and elegant proportions.
The Everest’s high set cabin poses a threat to the vertically challenged, even if it is aided by the pillar mounted grab handles. Once settled in though, you get a great sense of space, further amplified by the lovely panoramic glass roof included in the optional Premium Pack, which I highly recommend ticking. Imagine driving in Ilocos during the sunset. You gaze up, open up the glass roof when the wind becomes adequately cool, and you get this rush of fresh air inside the car. I don’t know about you, but this is why I’m a big fan of panoramic sunroofs. Even without the panoramic sunroof, there’s still a great sense of spaciousness, aided by the fact that the seats are some of the thinnest Ford has ever placed inside an SUV. While other PPVs feel too utilitarian for my taste, dominated by the liberal use of brittle plastics, the Ford Everest manages to avoid that thanks to the twin TFT LCD screens surrounding the analog speedometer, configurable interior LED ambient lighting, hand stitched soft padded dashboard, and plush leather surfaces. It’s only when you touch the surfaces on the lower parts of the cabin that you’re reminded of the Everest’s utilitarian roots, as its interior is shared with the Ford Ranger on which it’s based. Thankfully, the black interior masks it well.
Space and Practicality
The finickiest of drivers will surely find a comfortable driving position with the Everest’s 8-way electrically adjustable front seats. Annoyingly, the steering wheel only tilts, not telescopes for reach. Thankfully, the seats are so supportive and comfortable by themselves for long distance cruising, the lack of steering reach adjustment is forgivable. This Premium Pack also adds 8-way electronic adjustment for the front passenger. Consider the front people spoilt for choice at this point. At the back, they won’t feel shortchanged for space, as there’s ample space for three adults seated abreast. There’s a small hump in the floor for the transmission tunnel, but the foot wells on both sides are so huge, people won’t need to fight for foot space anyway. Access to the third row is a challenge, though, as the second row seats only slide for third row entry, but once there, there’s ample space for small adults or kids, even on long journeys.
Open the automatic electronic trunk, and we’re left impressed on how impressively practical and intelligently designed the Ford Everest’s trunk space is. With all seats in place, there is 450 liters of space. Electronically folding the third row seats flat and flushed under the floor, which is part of this Premium Pack, will merit you an impressive 1,050 liters of space, more than enough for the toys and books we were donating to Sapang Bato School and Sitio Target School. Practicality is further elevated by tie down hooks and a 120-volt outlet, two features only the Everest has in this class. Fold the second row of seats, and we do mean really flat and flushed under the floor, leaves you a van-like square shaped trunk with a whopping 2,010 liters of space. No other PPV in this class leaves you with a trunk as impressively flat and as perfectly square as the Everest’s.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
This being the top trim 3.2 Titanium+ variant, it’s loaded with so much toys to the brim, we’ll just mention the highlights to avoid boring you with so much technical jargon. Front passengers are greeted to a 2-zone automatic climate control, while the Ford Everest’s main technology highlight is its new SYNC3 infotainment system, which is a huge improvement over the four quadrant layout and lagginess of SYNC2. Large buttons, neat shortcuts, and a very quick touch response make the user experience of SYNC3 the most pleasant in its class, whereas most of its competitors use the laggy and convoluted systems from local Filipino supplier AVT. New for 2018 is the addition of navigation, though as with many modern infotainment systems nowadays, this has smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fitted as standard. SYNC3’s will emulate a simplified version of iOS or Android, granted it is connected via USB. So far, BMW is the first and only carmaker to have Apple CarPlay function via Bluetooth.
People at the second row of seats aren’t left out. They also have their own independent climate controls at the back, and I’m left amazed with the 120 volt three-pin standard household socket, which means I could even charge my laptop at the back. How freaking cool is that? I bet even your BMW 3 Series doesn’t even have that, huh?
As this is the 4WD model, the Everest is equipped with Terrain Management System, in which the 4WD system can be configured via the electronic knob in the center console. There are four modes, namely Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand, and Rock, all of which are self-explanatory. Whenever in Normal, the 4WD system distributes power automatically to which wheel needs grip the most.
While Titanium variants are equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard, ticking the Premium Pack option equipped in our test unit adds a plethora of advanced driver assist features that make driving more comfortable and a lot safer. There’s Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Alert, and Automatic High Beams. If all else fails, there are 7 airbags, stability control, hill start assist, and for the 4WD models, hill descent control.
The Ford Everest is powered by an inline-5 Duratorq TDCI turbocharged diesel engine that produces 200 hp @ 3,000 rpm and 470 Nm of torque @ 1,750 to 2,500 rpm. Power is sent via a 6-speed automatic transmission, through an intelligent 4WD system.
How It Drives
Climbing aboard the Everest, and I’m somehow amazed by how solid and vault-like the doors feel, as closing it produces a solid and reassuring thud. Once you start the engine, the Everest’s 3.2 liter 5-cylinder engine comes to life in a refined manner. While the engine’s certainly audible outside, it’s very muted inside, probably thanks to the Active Noise Cancellation feature that keeps outside noise to a minimum. It’s a smooth and powerful engine, too. Acceleration off the line is great for a PPV, managing to do a 0-100 kph sprint in a little more than 11 seconds, though there’s noticeable shift shock from first to second gear. At the engine’s higher rev range though, it does feel like it could with a little more shove, but for overtaking, it has excellent throttle response, helped by the fact there’s only minimal turbo lag, enabling it to nip through gaps in traffic easily, granted you’re still aware that you’re handling a large vehicle.
There’s no denying the Everest is tall and wide, one that you are constantly reminded by it due to the car’s tall hood that can easily block the view of a low slung sports car. Despite that, it’s a very maneuverable SUV, due to its great side and rear sight lines and its electronically assisted steering, the only one in the class to utilize it. This makes this large and heavy SUV extremely light in the city and when parking, aided by its rather excellent turning circle. Good grief it’s so light, you don’t even need huge biceps to turn the wheel, lock-to-lock. As the car speeds up, the steering slightly adjusts to become heavier for better stability.
Because it has now moved to an electronically assisted power steering, Ford was able to fit the Everest with features such as Active Park Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. Active Park Assist steers the Everest automatically in a parallel parking spot, with you only need to take care of the throttle and brakes, which is neat to those intimidated to parallel parking. Lane Keeping Assist, meanwhile, keeps you in the center of the lane through automatic steering corrections, and it works really well. Adaptive Cruise Control is such a huge godsend for me. Driving the entirety of NLEX and SLEX was such a relaxing experience for me when using Adaptive Cruise Control, as I only had to be wary of the situation around me while my foot stays rested for most of the time. Combined with the Lane Keeping Assist system, the Ford Everest is somewhat an automated car when driving down the highway, but there will still be those rare, few times where my intervention was needed. Still, it’s considered a Level 1 autonomous car with these features, indicating our cars being one step closer to fully autonomous cars. Forward Collision Alert is indeed very useful, but there are times where it’s given me a number of false alarms on EDSA when motorcyclists carelessly sneak through my path, sending annoying beeps and interrupting my Spotify playlist, but by lowering the sensitivity, I got around the system being too annoying for me.
Safety systems aside, the Ford Everest is a very relaxing car as a whole. Its high speed stability is top notch, with good highway manners and a supremely quiet interior. Road, wind, and engine noise are at its minimum in this car, even feeling like a crossover SUV in terms of refinement. With a 3.2 liter 5-cylinder diesel engine, plus gobs of torque at a relatively low rpm, I never felt wanting for more power whenever I’m overtaking slower vehicles in expressways and provincial highways. It stays muted and quiet under hard acceleration, and for the most part, it feels like a slightly rugged Ford Explorer, and that’s a huge praise for a PPV.
As I slow down and drive through a city, the Ford Everest’s manners remain excellent in cities and towns. The ride is very supple, delicately soaking up the horrible lumps and bumps of a relatively underdeveloped Sapang Bato with sophistication, and that’s despite the large 20-inch wheels and 265/50 series low profile tires. Only the smallest of road imperfections go through the cabin unfiltered. Despite that, nothing shudders and shakes from the car’s body, proof that this SUV has excellent body rigidity despite the large panoramic sunroof. The rear 5-link Watts Link suspension provides it good body control and high speed stability, avoiding the pitching and diving movements under hard cornering, acceleration, or braking.
Upon entering congested places like C5 or EDSA, Manila Christmas season traffic has dented my fuel economy down to 9.4 km/l mixed driving, from the clearest of expressways, down to the most congested of EDSA on a Christmas season. Not bad, considering the size and power of the Everest.
On The Downside
There are two niggles I found with the Everest. I find the new electronically assisted steering to be too light and too numb. It’s so light and so devoid of feedback, it sometimes feels like a video game when driving, and you have so little clue as to what’s happening to the front wheels, especially when off-roading. Also, the brakes feel spongy, which considerably limits driver confidence when hustling this large vehicle. It takes a good press of the brakes before bite is actually felt in the pedal, which can be scary when panic braking.
Two years on, and the Everest 3.2 Titanium+ 4WD remains to be my most favorite among the latest generation of midsize PPVs, and these are mainly due to its well-proportioned good looks, spacious and practical interior, future-proof advanced technologies, strong engine and gearbox combination, and its excellent balance between ride and handling. It’s a cohesive and advanced package that will take years for its competitors to match. Whereas some don’t even offer something as basic as stability control at this price point, Ford knocks it out of the ring with high-tech safety gear such as Blind Spot Warning and Forward Collision Alert, and we commend Ford for offering advanced safety gear at least as an optional feature. With this variant priced at P2,288,000, some will say it’s expensive, but you’re definitely getting your entire money’s worth with numerous advanced features that will keep it ahead of the game for years to come. Besides, if all you’re after are the features, you could just opt for the Everest 2.2 Titanium+, which costs P2,058,000.
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.4 out of 5