Thinly-disguised Ranger-based Ford Everest SUV spied testing.
Ford’s upcoming Everest SUV has entered the latter stages of its development, as these recent spy photos in both Europe and Australia attest.
Expected to arrive in Australian showrooms in 2015, the Ford Australia-developed and likely seven-seat Everest will rival other ute-based wagons like the Isuzu MU-X, Holden Colorado 7 and Mitsubishi Challenger.
These thinly-disguised Everest mules are the first we’ve seen that use production sheetmetal, unlike the cobbled-together Ranger/Territory hybrids spotted previously.
The European mules are left-hand drive, while the Australian examples spied near Ford’s You Yangs proving ground are right-hand drive, reflecting the “One Ford” global focus for the new model.
Aside from more production-friendly wheels and tyres and the addition of front parking sensors, mudflaps and a towbar, these mules are remarkably close to the production-ready appearance of the Everest Concept shown at Ford’s Go Further event last August.
These images also offer our first look at the Ranger ute-based Everest’s interior, with the lifted disguise revealing a unique centre-stack with the multimedia screen relocated from the Ranger’s dash-top location, and a revised steering wheel with larger multifunction buttons.
The Australian mules’ interior door trims were also obscured, suggesting a different design despite appearing to share door pressings with the ute.
The Everest’s interior improvements could also be seen on the Ranger’s mid-life refresh due at around the same time, which is already expected to bring improvements to the current ute’s multimedia interface.
These mules are wearing a combination of the existing Ranger XLT’s 17-inch alloys and the Wildtrak’s 18s, suggesting the Everest will use the different sizes to differentiate between trim levels.
Other differentiating features evident are regular halogen and projector-type headlights, side indicators located in the front guard or wing mirror, and either unpainted black or silver inserts for the front and rear bumpers.
The Everest’s Ranger basis suggests that the new model will also share drivelines with the light-commercial, with the capable 3.2-litre turbodiesel and six-speed manual and auto possibly joined by the 2.2-litre turbodiesel as an entry variant.
There is talk of the Everest joining the previous R51 Nissan Pathfinder as the only ute-based SUV to feature independent rear suspension, but these images show a tubular trailing arm, and one of the European mules show an axle-locating Panhard rod – suggesting at least these versions are fitted with a coil-sprung, solid axle rear end.
Even a coil-sprung solid setup will likely deliver big improvements in ride comfort and off-road articulation over the Ranger’s load-focused leaf-sprung rear end.
Rear disc brakes are also visible, following the Colorado 7, MU-X and Challenger in stepping up from the utes’ drums.
The Everest will also ride on a significantly shorter wheelbase than the 3220mm Ranger, with the pictured rear wheelarch intrusion into the door jambs suggesting something nearer the 2845mm of the MU-X and Colorado 7.
This shorter wheelbase along with a visibly shorter rear overhang will also help the Everest’s off-road clearance and manoeuvrability.
The new Everest will form a spiritual successor to the Courier ute-based Raider SUV sold here between 1991-96. This model was also sold throughout Southeast Asia and other developing markets, and has worn the Everest badge since 2003.