Ford Everest scales the peaks

By CARSIFU | 12 January 2015


It looks like the all-new Ford Everest will have plenty of new and first-in-the-segment features to offer when it finally comes off the production line in a few months’ time.

At the global unveil of the production model in Beijing recently, the consensus among the Ford team implied “customer expectations fulfilled” as attributes of their latest SUV were shared with journalists from China, Asean and other countries across the Asia Pacific.

“We are meeting the needs of our customers more than ever before,” said David L. Schoch, Ford Motor Company’s group vice-president and Asia Pacific president.

“The newest member of our SUV family offers a breakthrough new vehicle that will redefine across the Asia-Pacific what our customers can expect from an SUV.

“It will enhance our popular SUV range and advance our leadership in this dynamic segment,” he said.


And there it was, looking big and tough in a striking shade of red; its aerodynamic build adding a touch of refinement and sophistication, and the bold inverted trapezoidal grille indicating its Ford heritage.

“The new Ford Everest represents an epic commitment on the part of the Ford Motor Company to meet and exceed high customer expectations,” said Trevor Worthington, vice-president, Product Development, Ford Asia Pacific.

“From the very beginning, we set aggressive targets, and with the Ford Everest, we have truly raised the bar for this type of vehicle in design and capability, with advanced technologies for a smarter, safer and more capable vehicle at a very attractive price.”

The Everest was developed from the ground up (this is not an SUV with a pick-up base, Schoch stressed) by Ford’s Asia Pacific design and product development teams, said exterior design manager David Dewitt proudly.

"It involved the most extensive research into markets and consumer preferences ever, “the most research ever conducted for a vehicle developed by Ford in Asia Pacific”, he said.

“Customers told us they wanted an SUV that balances off-road toughness with a refined, comfortable interior, and we listened.

“This vehicle reflects what the consumer wants, inside and out.”


He added that consumers would know at a glance what they’re getting – an exceptionally capable vehicle with an unmatched level of comfort.

“The new Ford Everest goes beyond anything we’ve seen before in this segment. It’s a perfect balance between functionality and aesthetic harmony, wrapped up in a package that looks equally at home in the city and at the ends of the earth.”

“Is it all about customer expectations then? What about your own expectations as a designer?” I asked Dewitt.

“I would say I met my own expectation as well as that of the customers. I would drive the vehicle myself, and I live in Australia,” he said, alluding to the vast environment of the continent where urban landscapes meld with the rugged outback, and where the SUV would take to both like a duck to water.

In fact, it was in Australia that the concept version of the Ford Everest was first shown in 2013.

When I posed the question: “How would the Everest appeal to women, bearing in mind the fact that they are increasingly taking charge of household decisions such as choosing the family car?”, it drew smiles from Schoch, John Lawler, chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Motor China, and Richard Tilley, product development director for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

It was obviously an unexpected question and a bemused Tilley answered without giving any specifics, only assuring that he was confident the Everest would appeal to women, too.

“It’s very good in the city and for weekend drives for the whole family,” he said.

“How would you describe customers’ expectations of their SUV?” I asked Maurizio Tocco, interior design manager for Ford Asia Pacific.

“Very challenging to achieve,” he replied.


“But we have done it. The Everest interior has a higher level of craftsmanship than you would expect from such a rugged SUV.”

We were not allowed to get inside the SUV, but from what we could see, it certainly looked posh.

“You see the stitches? They really are stitched in,” Tocco said as he pointed out the features, big and small, in the interior.

“Every detail in the Everest is refined – from the instrument panel to the luggage compartment – and crafted with a level of detail, more like a premium watch rather than a tough SUV,” Tocco explained.

“The end result is a subtle and truly exceptional experience for drivers and their passengers.”

Among the exciting features on offer in the new seven-seater SUV include:

> Advanced active safety features including Collision Mitigation System and Roll Stability Control, and segment-first features like Curve Control to help drivers stay in command even in the most challenging situations.

> An array of safety features, including seven airbags, an advanced safety cage with ultra-high-strength boron steel and first-in-class features like Emergency Assistance.

> Intelligent four-wheel drive system, an active transfer case with Torque on Demand, Terrain Management System, best-in-class ground clearance of 225mm and water-wading capability of 800mm.

> The latest generation of Ford’s in-car connectivity solution, SYNC 2, lets drivers use natural voice commands to control the car’s entertainment system, climate controls and connected mobile devices.

> Power and efficiency to go further, made possible by one of three petrol and diesel engines, mated to durable and efficient six-speed automatic or manual transmissions.


And, for parents concerned about the safety of their children behind the wheel, the new Ford Everest features Ford’s MyKey smart key technology. By programming a special key, parents can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume, and encourage seatbelt use through a persistent Belt-Minder warning.

“The new Ford Everest is an exceptionally versatile vehicle, equally prepared for the everyday commute as it is for the most extreme off-road terrain,” Schoch promised.

It is going to resonate with drivers across Asia Pacific and around the world, he added. Competition from other car companies in the segment doesn’t seem to bother him.

“In Asia Pacific this year, total SUV sales alone were up 28%. Ford sales were up 78%,” he said.

The strong presence of Chinese journalists hinted at the fact that the main market would be China, where the Everest, which underwent extreme off-road testing at the Arizona Proving Ground in the United States and the Simpson Desert in Australia, will be manufactured by Ford’s Jiangling Motors Corp (JMC) joint venture at the JMC Xiaolan Plant in Nanchang, China.

For the Asean market, it will be manufactured at AutoAlliance Thailand in Rayong. The all-new Ford Everest is expected to be launched in Malaysia in 2015.

The price is not available yet, but it promises value for money, a comfortable ride, an enjoyable drive, and a sense of pride and prestige for those behind the wheel.