When the Everest was first launched in the country in 2015, it instantly became a popular choice in the mid-size SUV category because of its looks and capabilities. Aside from being a 7-seater, it also provided a high level of drivability and comfort. Plus the fact that that it came loaded with driver-assist and safety technologies that were new for the segment and some, for the industry.
A month after Ford launched the refreshed Everest, they organized a media drive to showcase "the most powerful Everest ever." The three-day itinerary traversed almost 900 kilometers and was designed to showcase the capabilities of their mid-sized SUV.
For 2019, the most significant change that the refreshed Everest received was new powerplants: the new-generation 2.0L Bi-Turbo diesel and the 2.0L Turbo diesel. If the engines sound familiar, it's because they are the same ones found in the Ranger Raptor. Both engines are mated to an advanced 10-speed automatic transmission with Select-Shift that was designed to improve fuel efficiency and as well as performance. Ford has also simplified the lineup by limiting the options to one variant per drivetrain: the Everest 2.0L Turbo Titanium 4x2 AT and the Everest 2.0L Bi-Turbo Titanium+ 4x4 AT.
Unless you compare the previous and current versions side by side, there aren't any glaring differences in the exterior of the new Everest. Those with an eye for detail, however, will notice the slightly modified front fascia that houses its HID headlights and as well as the new 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels it now sits on. The body maintains its silhouette that is devoid of any strong character lines or flares.
Stepping into the cabin, immediately noticeable is the new ebony theme that gave the interior a more cohesive and premium feel.
For the first leg of the trip, our three-man group was assigned the top of the line Bi-Turbo variant. The day's drive would take us from our launch point in Quezon City to our first overnighter in Baler. As customary, several stopovers and driver changes were scheduled en route, with just as many switches in passenger seating so that we could find our favorite position. Mine was in the second row with the backrest slightly reclined.
Similar to the rear seating in pickups, the second row of the Everest is slightly raised but is nevertheless comfortable with adequate legroom. The third row remained unchanged, with space more suitable for kids or small adults. Parents with young kids will be happy to note that there are two ISOFIX anchors for the soon to be mandatory car seats.
I'm not sure if it was just the new dark interior but it felt like the ceiling height was slightly lower than I remember. If our hunch is correct, it is probably to accommodate the moonroof that is standard in the Titanium+. Another new feature that is now standard in the new Everest is Apple Play/Android Auto integration with the head unit that has Sync 3 Voice Control, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
As a passenger, I've always found the air conditioning controls and power outlets located at the back of the center console extremely useful. Because it has both a 12-volt socket and an AC 230-volt, charging is not limited to just handheld devices.
When it was finally my time to get behind the wheel, it didn't take long to get used to the power the Bi-Turbo engine was churning and figure out how to best use the 10-speed Select-Shift. The throttle was responsive and it took a lot of will power not to floor the pedals to test what the machine could do. While you don't need that much power on an ordinary drive, it's always good to know that its there should you need it.
Habagat was still in full swing during the drive and we experienced a gamut of weather conditions they seemed to change every few hundred meters. With so many things to watch out for on unfamiliar roads the simplest things like the Everest's Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers were mighty handy. This feature isn't new, mind you, but definitely a standout.
If there was one thing I wished would change in the Everest but has remained the same is its super-light steering courtesy of Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS). Electronic steering, while more efficient and undeniably makes maneuvering effortless, takes away the feel and feedback that I look for and consider as part of the driving experience. But then again, that's just me.
More powerful keys
For the next leg of the drive, we were handed the keys to a 2.0L Turbo Titanium 4x2 AT. Gone are the days when you had to have the keys in your hand to enter the vehicle and crank up the engine as Keyless Entry and Push-button Start is now standard. Loading our gear into our vehicle, we were reminded of the Hands-free Power Liftgate feature that is also new to the Everest. This feature, while not essential, is great to have. Imagine having your hands full of bags or groceries and how convenient it would be to be able to open the boot of your car with just a wave of your foot - with the key fob on your person, of course.
Blessed with drier weather, we were able to enjoy driving the Everest even more. The drive through the notorious twisties of Aurora was faster and more fun for the driver and the passengers. We were able to stretch the Everest's legs on the highway and appreciate the smoothness of its new 10-speed transmission.
Going the distance
By the time we reached Poro Point in La Union, it was drizzling again, and we had already traveled over 500 kilometers. The highlight of the day was with dinner and socials with Ford Philippine's managing director DK "Uma" Umashankar who also traveled quite a distance that day coming from the Ford HQ in Alabang to meet us.
While the rest of the group still has a day's worth of driving with more gastronomic stops scheduled for the next day, I was happy to be heading home later that evening.
Being driven home in a super fresh, with-all-the-plastic-films-intact top-of-the-line new Everest for four hours with an excellent driver behind the wheel made me decide that I was in the best seat in the house.
My takeaways after 800+ kilometers on the road:
- Despite being 4 years old, the Ford Everest still looks fresh and remains to be one of the better-looking PPVs in the market today.
- For those who prefer uncomplicated interiors, the new dark interior was a great improvement. While it all boils down to preference, this one is easier to clean and maintain.
- Moonroofs are nice to have, but in the Philippine setting, it's only practical use is for better in-car selfie lighting. haha
- People who purchase vehicles tagged "Most powerful ever" aren't looking for fuel misers but appreciate reasonable consumption.
- In-car power outlets, especially the AC 230-volt kind, are the bomb and a must-have for multi-taskers and those who work on the go.
- Longer service intervals mean less downtime and remarkably improves the ownership experience. It also banks on the premise of better products.
- Safety features are ironic in the sense that you pay a lot to have your vehicle equipped with yet but pray you never need them.
The new Ford Everest 2.0L Bi-Turbo Titanium+ 4x4 AT retails at Php 2,299,000 while the Everest 2.0L Turbo Titanium 4x2 AT retails at Php 1,995,000.