Home' Open Road North Shore : OR0517 Contents MOTORING
BEFORE AUSTRALIA’S love affair with the SUV took hold,
most 4WD vehicles – such as the Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota
LandCruiser – had a strong separate chassis and dual range
transmission. While their seven-seat configuration made them
a great alternative to the traditional family wagon, the trend
in SUVs has since been to become more car-like. However, the
rising popularity of dual-cab 4WD utes as multi-task vehicles
has now spawned a new wave of seven-seat wagons that are
also genuine off-roaders. We tested three of the bestselling
models side by side.
FORD EVEREST TREND
The Everest has big shoes to fill, as it’s the de facto replacement
for the discontinued Ford Territory. Launched in 2004, the
Territory was based on the Falcon wagon platform, whereas the
Everest’s underpinnings come from the current Ford Ranger ute.
There are three equipment levels: Ambiente, Trend and
Titanium, with prices starting at $54,990 for the Ambiente.
The Trend is available in rear-wheel-drive configuration for
$55,990, but our 4WD test car costs $60,990. The Titanium
rockets up to $76,990.
Powering the Everest is a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel
engine developing 143kW and 470Nm (from a low 1750rpm). A
six-speed auto gearbox is the only transmission option. Claimed
combined fuel consumption is 8.5L/100km. Its off-road
specifications are just as impressive, with 225mm of ground
clearance, 800mm water wading depth, a dial-operated terrain
management system and a 3000kg tow rating.
Melding rugged off-road credentials and day-to-day driving
abilities is always a challenge and, in addition to traction
control, dynamic stability control and roll stability control, Ford
engineers have equipped the Everest with ‘curve control’
technology to improve its handling through the bends.
Climb up into the interior (the grab handle is a welcome aid)
and you’ll see a functional, understated interior finished mainly
in grey and satin silver. In the centre is Ford’s voice-controlled
SYNC 3 infotainment system with six-inch screen. While
some traditional controls are not easy to find and identify,
a quick session with the SYNC 3 system enables you to set
temperature, audio and phone preferences, and a recent
system upgrade means it’s better attuned to the Aussie twang.
Comfort has long been a Ford strong point (at least in
Australian designed and built models) and for the driver and
second row passengers the Everest continues this trait with
soft yet supportive seats. The third row is a different matter
– getting into them requires some dexterity and they’re only
suited to children. All three rows have ventilation outlets and
the Everest has separate air con controls in the middle row. The
large rear door is the only electrically operated one in our test,
which is a desirable feature given its size.
Although the heaviest of the three vehicles, the Everest has a
real spring in its step and performance from the five-cylinder
diesel is class leading. Off the mark, the Everest speeds up
quickly using minimal revs, and it’s a toss up between the Everest
and Trailblazer for the quietest cabin. Overtaking is a breeze and,
although we didn’t carry out a tow test with these three, our
sister publication Australian Caravan+RV recently hitched up a
2500kg caravan to the Everest and that did little to dampen the
torquey engine’s ability. The only discernible difference was more
frequent use of the engine’s rev range and a rise in cabin noise.
We drove all three 4WDs on a stretch of the quicksand-like
Nine Mile Beach near Newcastle. We dropped the tyre pressures
to suit the conditions and the Everest looked to be the least
distressed in the hands of our resident off-road tester, tackling
the dunes and berms more easily. On the run back from the
Central Coast after our off-road excursion, the Everest
recorded a very respectable 7.5L/100km.
HOLDEN TRAILBLAZER LTZ
This is not an all-new model, but rather a rework of the old
Colorado7, whose owners will pick the LED daytime running
lights and redesigned front facia and bonnet as the main changes
to the exterior. No shrinking violet, the Trailblazer mirrors the
Everest in almost every dimension while being 40mm wider.
Holden’s highly regarded local engineers have tweaked the
chassis and suspension to better suit Australian conditions, and
the Trailblazer features a revised power steering system that
provides a sharper response and fewer turns lock to lock. All
the major rubber engine mounts have been revised to improve
smoothness and quietness.
We drove all three 4WDs on a
stretch of the quicksand-like
Nine Mile Beach near Newcastle
10/04/2017 3:07 pm
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