Cars > Encounter

Carving Vietnam’s winding roads in the Ford Everest Wildtrak

Looks new, but driven by a familiar diesel powertrain yet again

The Vietnamese morning comes with the smell of diesel. PHOTO BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Since 2009, Ford had been using the Wildtrak nameplate as the top-of-the-line variant for the Ranger even before the arrival of the Raptor. Meanwhile, its SUV counterpart had been on the sidelines catering to the family and semi-luxury-oriented crowd.

For the T6.2 generation, the new Everest has finally been given the Wildtrak treatment for that extra mean and capability factor. I just drove one in Vietnam.

The Wildtrak nameplate finally reaches the Everest 14 years after its debut. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Our morning was spent traversing Homestay Seo My Ty for the “Ford Next Level Experience,” a 23.4km journey on the mountain roads of Sa Pa, Vietnam. Usually, scooter riders had no problem navigating the twisties, and our guides from the Blue Oval were confident that anyone could conquer the predetermined route like a piece of cake with the new T6 chassis.

Our Philippine media group was assigned two vehicles: a Ranger Raptor and an Everest Wildtrak. Both share the same 2.0-liter biturbo four-cylinder diesel engine that chugs a healthy 207hp and 500Nm, but the difference is that one is currently for sale in the Philippines while the other isn’t.

When we were given a choice to ride the vehicle we wanted to try, I went for the forbidden fruit at this point in time.

Some shots the author took from the back seat of the Everest Wildtrak. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

The exterior of the Everest Wildtrak is similar to the Ranger version that we have been familiar with, sporting a blacked-out grille and fender cladding in a seven-seater package. With the same suspension setup, the trip to Seo My Ty was smooth sailing, even with the 20-inch alloy wheels, which made taking pictures of the other trucks and the beautiful scenery easy.

For the tightest of roads and turns, the 360° camera and the blind spot monitor did help us look out for possible obstacles, such as rocks, gutters, and dogs, which were broadcast on the tall 12-inch infotainment screen and chimed throughout the cabin.

Right-hand drive took a while to get used to, especially coming from a left-hand-drive country. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Those features also immensely aided our lack of experience driving right-hand-drive vehicles, as these T6.2 machines were straight out of Thailand. The least of our concerns was mistaking the indicator stalk for the wipers; the hardest challenge was the hood-sized hurdle on top of not often driving tall SUVs.

The idea of a midsize pickup-based SUV brought worrying thoughts into my compact-hatchback mindset. The fear of scratching a wall or rock or someone else’s car prevailed whenever the long horizon and the high clearance made me question my margin of error.

In a way, the Everest Wildtrak’s essential features saved me from ruining an amazing first media trip abroad.

The luscious Sa Pa greenery complements the rugged convoy. PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YOUNG

Taking off the rose-tinted glasses, the Everest Wildtrak is a beefier-looking Titanium+ version. On paper, both share the same mechanical specs and features. This has blacked-out exterior bits as well as yellow-orange accents and stitching in the cabin, so buyers might think twice spending a bit more for an appearance package.

However, a big selling point that could attract prospective owners is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 powerhouse sold in Australasia, South Africa, and other parts of the ASEAN region. With a power bump to 250hp and 600Nm, there’s no doubt Wildtrak owners would find its worth next to other sportier-looking SUVs.

This or the Titanium? Throw in the larger engine to seal the deal. PHOTO BY JUSTIN YOUNG

After the local launch of the Ranger Raptor with the sole four-banger option, fans seem disappointed that we are getting the short end of the diesel stick. Come on, Ford Philippines. Can’t we have a bit more fun with a bit more power?

Justin Young

Justin loves cars of all forms. Molded by motoring TV shows and Internet car culture, he sees the world from a different perspective that not many get to see every day.