Ford and Toyota will shift their battle for ute supremacy into the SUV segment when Ford’s Everest lands in New Zealand this month to challenge Toyota’s updated Prado (above). The two companies have been going toe-to-toe in the ute segment over the past two years, a scrap that saw the Ford Ranger last year end the Toyota Hilux’s long-term reign as New Zealand’s favourite light truck. Ranger will outgun Hilux in sales again this year. The slugfest will heat up next year when Toyota lands its new Hilux. Meantime, a new battle is shaping up between the two rivals, one fuelled by an all-new Ford. Everest is the carmaker’s first SUV in recent years with the off-road credentials to challenge Prado, among others. Ford said it benchmarked Everest against Prado and Jeep Grand Cherokee and developed it to offer New Zealanders more than those two.“We compete easily against them,” Ford said. Jeep’s unofficial response was “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Toyota, as usual, played dead. Always has done. But it could claim Prado’s new 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is quieter and more fuel-efficient than Everest’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel. There’s not much in it – on paper, Prado’s claimed town-and-around average is 8 litres/100km; Everest’s is 8.5/100km. That means the Prado engine is cleaner-burning – 211gr/km of exhaust C02 against Everest’s 224gr/km. Again there’s not much in it because both are rated Euro5. Everest’s engine is more powerful – 143kW/470Nm against Prado’s 133kW/450Nm. But there’s little in the torque delivery of each engine: Everest delivers its 470Nm between 1750-2500rpm and Prado its 450Nm between 1600-2400rpm. Both use full-time four-wheel-drive and six-speed gearboxes. Everest has a braked towing advantage – 3000kg against Prado’s 2500kg. How do they compare in size? Everest is 4892mm long, 1860mm wide, 1837mm high. Wheelbase is 2850mm. Prado is 4760mm long, 1885mm wide, 1890mm high. Wheelbase is 2790mm. Everest is therefore longer overall, with a longer wheelbase, but is not as wide nor as tall as Prado. What about luggage capacity? Bit confusing here because Ford measures Everest’s to the roof height and Toyota to the top of the Prado’s seat backs. Suffice to say both vehicles have plenty of room for stuff. Turning circle? Prado is 11.6m; Everest is 11.7m Weight? Prado varies between 2316kg and 2365kg, depending on kit. Everest weighs between 2370-2495kg. Wading depth? Everest 800mm, Prado 700mm. How about prices? Ford NZ has two spec levels for its diesel-only Everest – Trend at $75,990 and Titanium at $87,990. Toyota has three diesel Prados – GX at $78,490, VX at $88,490, VX Ltd at $99,990. It also has a V6 petrol variant. One obvious advantage for Everest is that it’s new and based on the chassis and drivetrain of the Ranger ute, NZ’s best seller. Prado has been around for a few years now. It’s a proven performer but it needs freshening, particularly it’s awkward headlight/grille assembly. Toyota NZ is betting much on the new
2.8-litre diesel engine. Product manager Spencer Morris says the new engine will bring even higher levels of performance and driving pleasure to Prado. It will also power the new Hilux and Fortuner. “The new diesel engine is better in every way – it will provide confidence-inspiring reliability and robustness proven through extensive and rigorous testing,” Morris said. But will engine and equipment upgrades be enough to keep Prado ahead of the off-road space invader from Ford?