Ford has yet to officially confirm that the Australian-designed Everest off-roader will from next year join rather than replace the Territory SUV range in New Zealand and across the Ditch.
But it’s widely accepted that will be the case, at least until 2016 when Ford Australia closes its assembly plant near Melbourne, where the Territory and Falcon range are built. The Territory is then expected to be succeeded by the next-generation Ford Edge, an SUV built in North America since 2006.
A concept of the Everest (above) has just been unveiled at the Bangkok motor show and confirmed for global production from 2015. It remains unclear just how much the production version will have in common with the concept.
All-wheel and rear-drive variants are expected. “The Everest concept represents our vision of a global Ford vehicle with regional heritage that will allow customers to take on the world,” said Matt Bradley, Ford’s ASEAN boss. The Everest was designed and engineered by Ford Australia as part of the T6 project that developed the Ranger for its launch in 2011.
Everest will be built in Thailand alongside the Ranger ute with which it shares much of its underpinnings. But Ford will drop the workhorse Ranger’s leaf spring rear suspension in favour of a conventional solid axle/coil spring set-up in the Everest – perhaps from the Territory – for improved ride and handling. The Ranger’s drum brakes will also go; Everest will get discs. Spy shots of a Territory/Ranger mule testing in Sweden revealed the changes underneath.
Everest is likely to pick up the Ranger’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel engine, which Ford’s engineers are reworking for more refinement. In the Ranger it delivers 147kW/470Nm. An entry-level petrol option could be a reworked version of the 2.0-litre Ecoboost unit used in the Edge in the US. It generates 180kW/366Nm.
Ford is saying the all-wheel-drive Everest will be a “true off-roader”. Prototypes testing in Australia over the past year have been spotted with an electronic selector knob on the centre console, a pointer to off-road gear selections.
The Everest is also expected to have a serious tow capacity. The Ranger’s braked limit is 3500kg; Everest could have one around 3000kg.