Right now, there is a siege building around fortress Toyota.
And, as certain as the sunrise, it’s got the Prado in its gunsights.
The warning for Toyota is that this new Everest would seem to have the armoury to make an even fight of things when it finally lands later this year.
The Prado, the heavy-duty 4WD of choice for an army of buyers - grey nomads, families, farmers and horse-lovers - has a well-earned reputation for tireless trouble-free graft.
It has dominated the large 4WD/SUV sector for years, but it’s getting on. And, sitting astride a market where the direct competition is a little thin (think Pajero, Patrol, the no-frills Defender, et al), it may be vulnerable if confronted with a real contender.
That is what Ford would appear to have in the new Everest: a ‘real contender’.
This car, with a proven heavy duty 4WD system down below, robust engines and ladder-frame chassis, the latest in high-end user technologies, driver-assist systems and safety technologies, and offering a new level of interior comfort, on-road handling and features, has - at least on paper - a lot of ammunition and a lot of obvious appeal to buyers.
Like the Ranger, the new Everest is largely a product of Ford’s Broadmeadows design centre.
Also, like the Ranger, it’s designed and engineered for a global market. Excluding North America, that is.
With this all-new off-road seven-seat SUV, Ford is claiming a new standard in ride and handling comfort, as well as durability and “rugged capability”.
As this reveal and the accompanying photos show, this is a handsome, chiselled ‘tough truck’, and a far cry from the Asia-only Everest it replaces.
Certainly, it will win a lot of friends, and a lot of buyers, on rugged athletic style alone.
Like the new Ranger, the Everest also comes with a long list of high-end technologies that set a high bar for competitors in the 4WD sector.
Among those technologies is Ford’s SYNC 2 communications and connectivity platform (with an eight-inch touchscreen), Active Park Assist, Curve Control and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert.
It will also be the first in its class to offer power-fold third-row seating and powered tailgate.
“It’s a completely new vehicle inside and out with a host of first-in-class features, providing unmatched value in its segment,” Matt Bradley, President Ford ASEAN, said
A rear-wheel-drive variant is also on the cards, although that option has yet to be confirmed for Australia.
It may yet decide, of course, that the urban-SUV Edge, which is also available with petrol engines, is still the ideal Territory replacement.
Depending on the market, the Everest will be offered with two diesel engines - a 147kW/470Nm 3.2 litre five-cylinder and a 118kW/385Nm 2.2 litre four-cylinder - but Australia will be offered the larger unit only.
The 3.2 litre five-cylinder diesel is a proven, strong performer, and betters the Prado outputs by a healthy margin.
And where the Prado has forged its reputation as a tow vehicle, the rugged Everest will now have something to say about that.
With a body-on-frame design, ‘ladder chassis’, intelligent four-wheel drive system, active transfer case with Torque on Demand, Terrain Management System, and best-in-class ground clearance of 225 mm and water-wading capability of 800 mm, the Everest is designed for hard graft, and lots of it.
The Terrain Management System provides four - Normal, Snow/Gravel/Grass, Sand and Rock - which alter throttle response, transmission mapping, four-wheel drive system and traction control.
It also offers the capability for the transfer case to be manually locked into low-range four-wheel drive mode for more extreme terrain or traction is needed.
Inside, the SYNC 2 system can operate off voice commands or the eight-inch touchscreen with color-coded corners for easy menu navigation. For audiophiles, there is a 10-speaker sound system with integrated subwoofer.
With segment-first technologies like Curve Control (to help maintain control when approaching turns too quickly), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, Roll Stability Control, Active Park Assist (for hands-free parallel parking), the new Everest is one loaded SUV.
Lastly (we’ll have more to report later), the Everest comes with Active Noise Cancellation technology. Ford claims that, in addition to “optimizing cabin sealing and sound absorbing materials”, this will make the Everest one of the quietest vehicles in its class.
Matt Bradley, President of Ford ASEAN, said, “Everest is a next generation vehicle that clearly demonstrates Ford’s SUV capability.”
It’s a quiet claim but there would appear to be a heck of a lot of car here. And, when it lands, it will no doubt give Toyota Australia reason for pause.