Ford Australia has expanded its Everest large SUV range with the addition of the RWD Trend model, which lops $5000 off the price of a Trend 4x4 and, at $55,990, costs just $1000 more than the base-spec Everest Ambiente 4x4.
Due to arrive in Ford showrooms this November, the Everest Trend 4x2 will retain the 3-tonne tow rating of its 4x4 stablemates, as well as their 143kW/470Nm 3.2 litre turbodiesel inline five and six-speed automatic transmission.
The Everest Trend 4x2’s wheel and tyre package will be identical to the 4x4 model, with the same 225mm ground clearance as well. You’ll need to look closely to tell this one apart from a Trend.
The arrival of the Everest Trend 4x2 will also coincide with the application of Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system to the Everest Trend and Titanium models, which will bring a more up-to-date interface, more natural voice controls as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Meanwhile, a pair of ISOFIX child seat anchorages will also be fitted to the outboard second row seats of all Everst models as part of the MY17 update.
However while the Everest lineup is expanding, Ford says it’s not because its Falcon-based Territory SUV is on the cusp of permanent retirement.
“We’re trying to expand our SUV lineup, anywhere we can we’re seeing an opportunity,” said Ford Australia President and CEO Graeme Whickman to the motoring media last week.
“This is independent of a Territory replacement discussion, this is around the fact there appears to be a customer want.
“We’ve been able to react to that want and we’ve seen some competitor activity there and we as one of the mainstream brands want to jump in there quickly ahead of some other brands because I think there could be an area of good potential.”
One of those “other brands” is Toyota, whose popular Prado large SUV is the Ford Everest’s main rival. While Toyota prefers to think of the Everest as a competitor to its Fortuner range, Ford isn’t afraid of comparisons with the Prado (neither are we, check out our comparison review here).
“SUVs are the fastest-gowing segment in Australia and the Everest Trend RWD will broaden our already impressive lineup of utility vehicles even further,” Whickman said.
“The Everest Trend RWD offers customers more choice than Toyota Prado, which does not offer a rear-wheel-drive variant.”
But speaking of “choice”, for those interested in an Everest 4x2 there’s only one: the Trend. Whickman said to TMR that with the bulk of Everest sales being for the mid-grade Trend variant, it didn’t make sense to bring out a base-spec Ambiente 4x2 or Titanium 4x2 - at least not yet.
“It was about where customers were telling us they felt a 4x2 fitted. It’s where we’re seeing most of [Everest] sales as well, in Trend.”
Ford Territory Still To Be Announced
While the Everest range grows, a fog still lies over the future of the Ford Territory nameplate. The current model will disappear after October 7 when Ford’s Broadmeadows assembly plant closes its doors, and a replacement has yet to be announced.
The Ford Edge has been widely tipped to be the Territory’s successor, but with smaller dimensions and a 5-seat configuration (the Chinese market has a slightly larger seven-seat option) it’s more of a midsizer than a large SUV.
Toyota Australia also has the rights to the Edge name, so expect it to wear a different badge should it come here.
The US-market Explorer is a closer match to the Territory in size however it’s already five years old and on the verge of replacement itself, with a successor still to be announced.
Ford Australia says it will communicate its plans for the Territory’s replacement soon, with an announcement expected early next month.