The all-black FX2 comes in the Trend specification and, along with its mono-hue treatment, gets 18-inch alloys, tints, and the seats trimmed in leather, black of course. Stocks of the Territory have all but dried up and so Everest is Ford’s only seven-seat option now.
And while we think it the pick of the ‘rugged class’ it isn’t inexpensive. Everest starts at $75,990 for the 4x4 Trend, whereas this FX2 is pegged at $69,990. We guess the special edition extras add to the cost, but we’d hope a ‘regular’ 4x2 Trend would be closer to $65k to better tempt those shopping for a high-end crossover with seven pews.
While it looks big and tough, Everest isn’t an unwieldy beast in urban running, the turning circle manageable at 11.7m, the steering light and the ride not overly taut. Still, it’s not as composed or refined as a crossover like, say, the CX-9.
And the same can be said of the five-pot diesel; it’s torquey but a bit rough in comparison to those crossover types. Everest is quiet when cruising however, with the active noise cancellation doing its thing. Pros include a 3000kg tow rating and more ground clearance than those crossovers but there’s no diff lock to help give this rear driver a helping hand should you get stuck on a slippery surface.
Everest shares its underpinnings with Ranger but there’s more weight on the rear end, so it is far less inclined to spin its wheels than the ute. And with its (slightly) more sophisticated rear-end set-up, it rides better too. While the rear-drive version is 100kg lighter than AWD Everest, it’s far from dainty at 2390kg, so the diesel must work hard when you need to get moving in a hurry. Fuel use is quoted at 8.4L/100km, though somewhere in the high tens is more realistic.
The seating arrangement is adequate; those up front are not especially comfy but there’s good space in the second row for adults, though those in the boot are best suited to underlings five feet or less. Access is good though with the second row sliding and folding easily enough. When those seats are stowed the boot is sizeable but with all that ground clearance, the load height is elevated.
While Everest is a five-star ANCAP-rated machine, and the Trend comes with adaptive cruise and lane keeping, at this price it lacks things like a smart key, seat heaters, front sensors, and a few other safety features. The feel and finish in the cabin is somewhat utilitarian too. Its infotainment system is sorted but if you don’t like the way Ford’s Sync system works, you can now plug your phone in.
Is there room in the market for a rugged-looking rear-driver SUV? Probably. People will buy it for the look and cheaper entry point, not caring that it can’t scale mountains. That said, the likes of the CX-9 or Sorento make better school buses.