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Ford Everest Ambiente RWD 2017 review


Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

For decades the Falcon station wagon was Ford’s ideal family transporter. Then in the new millennium came the Territory SUV, which, with seating for up to seven, multiple clever storage ideas, and the lower-priced option of rear-wheel drive (RWD) only, was a natural successor.

The Aussie-designed, full-size Ford family wagon is still alive and well, but now as an even tougher customer in the form of the award-winning Everest. In entry-level Ambiente RWD grade with seating for five, it retains the high-riding looks and much of the capabilities of the four-wheel drive (4WD) version, including a 700kg-plus payload and 3.0-tonne towing capacity. However, as the first variant to dip below $50,000, it also provides a more affordable entry point for Everest ownership.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Apart from its RWD drivetrain it's identical to the 4WD version. However, unlike the RWD Ranger ute from which it was derived, there's no big ‘Hi-Rider' decals or different badges alerting you to this fact.

The Ambiente can't hide its entry-level status inside, though, with 50 shades of grey and barely a lick of contrasting chrome to be seen anywhere. And there's still no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, but that applies no matter which grade of Everest you choose (or Ranger for that matter). However, sturdy grab handles on the A and B-pillars combined with the side steps make for easy entry front and back.

 For an entry-level model, the Ambiente almost looks a cut above the grade thanks to 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) For an entry-level model, the Ambiente almost looks a cut above the grade thanks to 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Driver and front passenger comfort is generally good. There's also seating for three on the 60/40 split-fold rear seat, but long journeys would be stretching friendships for the middle passenger, who has to sit with a leg on either side of the transmission tunnel, and endure less headroom due to the lower central roof lining.

It works much better as a four-seater with adequate leg and headroom even for tall passengers, but we did find the front portion of the base cushion a tad too firm under the thigh area. The split rear seat also folds down flat to extend the load area if required, adding to its versatility in work and play roles.

How practical is the space inside?

With a kerb weight of 2239kg, the Ambiente RWD is 104kg lighter than the 4WD version thanks to the absence of a transfer case, front differential and drive-shafts. However, that doesn't result in a corresponding boost in either payload or towing capacity.

Apart from its drivetrain, the RWD Ambiente is identical to the 4WD version. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Apart from its drivetrain, the RWD Ambiente is identical to the 4WD version. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

In fact, its GVM of 2950kg is 150kg less than the 4WD along with its 5700kg GCM (100kg less), 1650kg rear axle load rating (100kg less) and 711kg payload rating (46kg less). It does, however, share the same 3000kg braked towing capacity, but do your sums to be sure these figures can meet your ‘real world’ expectations.

For example, if you deduct the Ambiente's 2239kg kerb weight and a 3000kg trailer from its 5700kg GCM, it leaves a legal payload of only 461kg - in other words, a sizeable 250kg reduction in payload. A more practical towing weight would be 2750kg, allowing you to claw back the 250kg of payload you have to lose when towing 3000kg.

Unlike the RWD Ranger ute, there's no big ‘Hi-Rider' decals. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Unlike the RWD Ranger ute, there's no big ‘Hi-Rider' decals. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The big cargo area behind the rear seat provides 1050 litres of load volume and with the rear seat folded flat that expands to 2010 litres. There are four anchorage points for securing loads, and beneath the cargo floor is a maze of different-shaped storage pockets where smaller belongings can be safely stored out of sight. There's also a large bottle holder in each side trim in the load area.

Driver and front passenger have a bottle holder and storage pocket in each front door, plus there's a single glove box, inset storage tray in the centre dash-pad, a small cup-like oddments holder in the console (in place of the 4WD selector dial), centre console with front cubby, two cupholders and a padded-lid storage box which doubles as an arm rest.

Inside, the Ambiente can't hide its entry-level status. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Inside, the Ambiente can't hide its entry-level status. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Rear seat passengers also get a bottle holder and storage pocket in each door plus storage pockets on the rear of the front seats and a handy pop-out dual cup holder in the fold-down centre arm-rest when there are only two passengers.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

At $47,990, the Ambiente RWD offers a substantial $5000 saving over the Ambiente 4WD version ($52,990) and for many owners will happily fulfill their requirements as a dual-purpose working week vehicle and weekend escape machine.

Long journeys would be stretching friendships for the middle passenger. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Long journeys would be stretching friendships for the middle passenger. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

For an entry-level model the Ambiente almost looks a cut above the grade thanks to 17-inch alloy wheels and 265/65R17 tyres with a matching alloy full-size spare, side-steps, body-coloured bumpers and handles, satin silver grille and tailgate garnish, plus follow-me-home lighting and prestige paint options.

Inside it comes well equipped for today's device-addicted families with four 12-volt power outlets, two USB ports and a 230-volt (150w) inverter in the rear console. A generously-sized 8.0-inch touchscreen that's a delight to use (take note Toyota!) serves as the command centre for a multimedia interface, comprising Ford's 'SYNC 3' connectivity, Bluetooth and a quality 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer and steering wheel controls.

  • Driver and front passenger have a bottle holder and storage pocket in each front door. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Driver and front passenger have a bottle holder and storage pocket in each front door. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • Rear seat passengers also get the same treatment. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Rear seat passengers also get the same treatment. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

There's also dual-zone climate up front plus separate air-con/heater controls for rear seat passengers, with four overhead outlets pumping out plenty of both.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Ford's 3.2-litre 'Duratorq' in-line five cylinder turbo-diesel is a proven performer. In this ute-derived wagon segment its 143kW at 3000rpm is barely pipped by Holden's 147kW Trailblazer, and its peak torque of 470Nm, on tap from 1750-2500rpm, is what makes this engine such a competent load lugger. It also features 'Selective Catalytic Reduction' (SCR) using AdBlue to minimise exhaust emissions.

Its peak torque of 470Nm, on tap from 1750-2500rpm, is what makes this engine such a competent load lugger. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Its peak torque of 470Nm, on tap from 1750-2500rpm, is what makes this engine such a competent load lugger. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The Ambiente RWD, like all Everests, is available only with a six-speed automatic transmission, which is identical to the 4WD version along with the 3.73:1 final-drive ratio. However, there's no electronic rear diff lock like its Hi-Rider RWD Ranger cousin, which we think should be included.

How much fuel does it consume?

Ford claims 8.4L/100km, but our figures based on trip meter and fuel bowser readings, came in at 11.9L/100km, which is still pretty good given it included the caravan tow. Based on these figures, expect a driving range of around 670km from the standard 80-litre tank.

What's it like to drive?

Despite its size and 2.2-tonne kerb weight, the Everest RWD feels comparatively light and nimble in city and suburban driving. The torquey 3.2-litre turbo-diesel and lower gears provide brisk acceleration from standing starts along with handling dynamics and ride composure that you would not usually equate with such a tall vehicle.

  • The big cargo area behind the rear seat provides 1050 litres of load volume. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The big cargo area behind the rear seat provides 1050 litres of load volume. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • The split rear seat folds down flat to extend the load area if required. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The split rear seat folds down flat to extend the load area if required. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

We're big fans of Ford's electric power steering, too, which requires finger-tip turning weight at parking speeds but becomes increasingly firm and responsive as speeds increase. The four-wheel disc brakes provide reassuringly strong and consistent braking.

As many owners will probably want to tow things, we thought we'd try it out for ourselves with a new Oz Classic dual-axle 20-footer provided by New Age Caravans. Our Everest test vehicle was equipped with Ford's optional 3000kg tow pack and an electric brake controller. With the 2.7 tonne (tare) Oz Classic and 92kg driver, this car-trailer combination was 360kg under the 5700kg GCM.

There's a 12-volt power outlet and a 230-volt (150w) inverter in the rear console. (image credit: Mark Oastler) There's a 12-volt power outlet and a 230-volt (150w) inverter in the rear console. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The coil-spring rear suspension is well designed for this task. The big coils compressed only 15mm and the nose rose a mere 7mm, thereby maintaining a near-level ride height for car and trailer without the need for a weight distribution hitch. The Everest also has a relatively short distance between the tow-ball and rear axle, which helps to minimise yaw movement when underway.

The Everest and the Oz Classic felt like a good combination. The 3.2 litre turbo-diesel and six-speed automatic made light work of freeway driving, loping along in sixth gear at 100km/h using cruise control with only 1750rpm on the rev counter.

The Everest gets a matching full-size spare. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Everest gets a matching full-size spare. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

When climbing gradients its downshifts to fifth and sometimes fourth were crisp and decisive without a hint of hunting between ratios. Engine braking was also strong on descents, where the sequential manual shift option proved handy. The Everest's trailer sway control was also reassuring keeping the rig tracking straight when subjected to destabilising wind gusts from passing trucks.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Everest Ambiante scores a maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, and boasts a commendable suite of passive and active safety features, including driver and front passenger airbags, side front airbags, driver's knee airbag and side curtain airbags (which also cover the optional third row of seating).

There's also dynamic stability control incorporating roll-over mitigation, trailer sway control, traction control, emergency assistance, emergency brake assist and hill launch assist but not AEB. There's also a rear view camera and rear parking sensors fitted as standard and the second row seating has three child seat anchorage points with ISOFIX on the two outer positions.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Ford provides a three year/100,000km warranty, with an optional extended warranty available for an extra three years/200,000km, whichever comes first.

Service intervals are scheduled for 12 months/15,000km, and capped price servicing costs range from $400 to $640.

Also, 24/7 roadside assistance is available for up to seven years/105,000km, if the vehicle is serviced at participating Ford dealers.

There are ute-derived wagon rivals like Holden's Trailblazer LT, which, for the same money offer a similar equipment list but with more visual bling, and 4WD. Therefore any value-for-money calculations must be based on intended use, and if you demand an Everest over any other make or model.

However, given its similar-priced 4WD competition and heavy-duty 3000kg towing capacity, we reckon a rear diff lock should be included as standard equipment like the Ranger Hi-Rider. After all, you never know when you might need to extract a boat trailer from a slimy launching ramp or pull a caravan out of a campground turned boggy by overnight rain; situations that the Ambiente RWD could typically find itself in.

Would a RWD Everest be sufficient, or would you splash an extra $5000 for 4WD? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$30,998 - $41,990

Based on 12 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5