The top variant of the current-generation (and outgoing) Ford Everest is such a revolution. Back when power features were all the rage, this vehicle offered panoramic sunroof and self-parking tech. When most midsize SUVs had another shift lever for the transfer case, this one used a knob. At a time when a six-speaker audio system was the best, this had 10, including a subwoofer. And we’re not yet talking about its capability.
However, the same can’t be said about the erstwhile mid and lower variants, the Trend and Ambiente. While both have a powerful 2.2-liter diesel engine and six forward gears to play with, they do not come with many toys. The difference in bells and whistles were a lot that you’d really end up coughing up more cash just to get your hands on at least the 4×2 Titanium variant. But in the last facelift of the Everest, it made a new mid-level variant. That made the Trend the new base model and kicked the Ambiente out of the lineup.
One look and you won’t believe your eyes that this is the more affordable variant your money can buy. The front end has a blacked-out honeycomb grille flanked by the LED headlamp cluster. It sure is a looker. I’m just not so sold on the “Everest” badge sitting atop the grille. To be honest, I hate it. But with a lot of guys sticking out Banawe-sourced badges on the hood lip, it got me thinking that I probably do not belong to this vehicle’s target market. The blacked-out affair continues around the vehicle as the side mirrors and the 20-inch wheels, borrowed from the more expensive Titanium variant, are also finished in gloss black. To cap it off, the rear bar was also blacked out. The touches, the automaker believes, make this SUV look tougher. And to further emphasize that thought, “Sport” badges are found on the rear doors and the left side of the tailgate.
There are not a lot of changes inside, though. In fact, I don’t think the carmaker tinkered with it at all. But that’s not to say that this vehicle has an ugly interior. Aside from the acres of hard plastics around, there are soft-touch materials found on the most common touch points. The switches and the knobs feel good to the touch. The “Sport” etching on the seats adds up some nice style points. But the best bits have to be those blue plastic accents that have diagonal pinstripes. Overall, it’s a nice place to be in, and I certainly feel at home in it.
My pals and I went on a quick trip to Tagaytay, and the truck didn’t break a sweat. That’s because the manufacturer has ditched the trusty 2.2-liter diesel mill in lieu of a 2.0-liter four-pot, single-turbo engine. I remember a colleague talking about how the 10-speed transmission seems to always hunt for the right gears to use. But I honestly didn’t feel that during the trip. The truck pulled and pulled with just the right amount of grunt. It still is rather smooth, but when the going gets tough, you know that 178hp will be there waiting for you to summon it. The engine’s rather torquey, too, so you don’t need to rev it up that much.
But then, I had this Batangas trip with the fiancée and the future in-laws. With seven adults, a toddler and some bags in tow, I started to feel the struggles of the transmission. There were times when it would happily cruise in ninth gear, but the slightest of throttle changes would make it go hunting from the seventh to the ninth gear. Our speed limits won’t allow us to use the 10th gear. In fact, I only managed to use the 10th gear once, when I hit past 100km/h inside a closed, private road to test it. I’m sure that the transmission was made like so to keep the motor spinning within the engine’s narrow power band all the time. It just doesn’t feel so reassuring. Especially when you need to do some quick overtaking. Fuel consumption is average, as it clocks between 8km/L and 12km/L in the city. And when the roads open up, you can do 16km/L to 18km/L, depending on your throttle input.
I’d commend the brand’s engineers for this vehicle’s suspension tuning. It is not plush, sure, as I felt the road beneath me. And yet the ride was still comfortable enough to get my passengers snoozing. They’d only wake up at times, when some upbeat tunes would play on my Apple Music playlist and the subwoofer would kick in. Speaking of that infotainment system, it has Ford’s Sync 3 system that is Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible. The interface is quite intuitive, and the sound quality is one of the best, out of the box.
The chunky tiller’s light when you try to maneuver in tight spaces, yet it gives a weighty feel when you’re hitting highway speeds. There’s very little body roll even when you take a turn at speed while loaded. The seats give you a commanding view of the road, partly because of the SUV’s high ground clearance.
Despite the little nitpicks I have on the Everest Sport, it is one powerful, capable and comfortable vehicle. Plus, it is loaded with toys that its competitors don’t have. Not all mid-variant midsize SUVs have power-folding side mirrors, power liftgate, powered driver seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control as standard. And you get all of those and more at just P1,928,000, offering so much value for money.
With its peppy engine, nice toys and killer looks, there’s just no better mid-variant midsize SUV like the Everest Sport. In fact, choosing it over the others should be a no-brainer. That is, until you realize that the new one is just around the corner. But if you don’t want to wait long and you need a good, capable and loaded truck now, this could be it for you.
FORD EVEREST SPORT AT
|Engine||2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel|
|Power||178hp @ 3,500rpm|
|Torque||420Nm @ 1,750-2,500rpm|
|Dimensions||4,983mm x 1,862mm x 1836mm|
|Upside||It has good looks, great driving dynamics, and lots of features.|
|Downside||The automatic transmission has a dilemma of hunting which gears to use.|