Toyota Australia’s executive director of sales and marketing has dismissed Ford’s claim that its Everest SUV will challenge the Toyota LandCruiser Prado for market share of the lucrative large SUV segment.
Speaking to TMR at the local launch of the updated Prado, Cramb said the Everest’s key technical attributes made it less a Prado competitor and more a rival for the HiLux-based Fortuner seven-seater that’s due at the end of October.
“We see [Everest] and Fortuner well-placed together, along with a couple of other offerings from various other companies,” Cramb said to TMR.
“I’m not exactly sure what Ford are up to, but no we don’t see it as a competitor for Prado.”
Them's fighting words.
But while the Ford Everest, like the Fortuner, also shares some of its architecture with a commercial ute - the Ranger - Ford instead regards the Everest as a genuine alternative to the segment-dominating Prado and has priced it to suit.
The base model Everest costs $54,990 with the range-topping Everest Titanium priced at $76,990. The just-updated Prado, meanwhile, ranges from $52,990 to $84,490
Consider that the base Everest comes with seven seats and a six-speed automatic as standard (you need to spend $57,490 to get the same on a Prado), not to mention a three-tonne tow capacity that’s 500kg higher than the Toyota, then the value equation tips in Ford’s favour.
Speaking to TMR, Ford Australia spokesman Wes Sherwood said the targeting of the Prado was deliberate.
“We’ve developed a package targeting Prado, it clearly being one of the most recognised SUVs in that category,” he said.
“We want to go after that customer, as well as others coming into SUVs from other segments - as well as giving our own customers another option.”
And if the Everest can steal even a modest percentage of Prado buyers, it will be doing well.
The Prado currently dominates the large SUV category with year-to-date sales of 9779 cars, while the best-performing ute-based SUV the Isuzu MU-X has sold 4133 units over the same period.
Ford’s Territory continues to sell reasonably well despite its age, with 6415 sales year-to-date.
So how will the Everest fare in its upcoming battle? Does it have what it takes to take down the Prado, or is the Fortuner a more appropriate match?
And with a starting price expected to be in the mid-$40k region, is the Fortuner really in a class below the Everest like Ford believes?
THE ALL-IMPORTANT NUMBERS
The Fortuner measures 4795mm long, 1855mm wide and 1835mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2750mm. It equals the Everest’s 3000kg tow capacity, but with 130kW and 450Nm (the same as the Prado), it’s not as grunty as the 143kW/470Nm Everest.
The Everest is noticeably larger than the Fortuner, though it occupies a slightly smaller footprint than the Prado. Key stats for the Ford are 4892mm length, 1860mm width, 1837mm height and 2850mm wheelbase.
That last measurement is important. Not only is it a full ten centimetres longer between the axles than a Fortuner, but the Everest’s wheelbase is six centimetres greater than the Prado.
When it comes to cabin space, wheelbase is a key metric. Advantage Ford.
Meanwhile, the Prado is 4930mm long, 1885mm wide and 1880mm tall. The length figure is deceptive though, as that includes the Prado’s rear door mounted spare wheel.
From bumper to bumper the Everest is most likely slightly longer.
And let’s talk about underpinnings. While the Everest shares some of its ladder frame chassis and front suspension with the Ranger, everything rear of the gearbox mount is completely unique.
The Fortuner is in a similar boat, but let’s not forget that the Prado isn’t all that different to those two either: all three of these cars are body-on-frame large SUVs with an independent front and coil-sprung live axle rear suspension.
Delve into the spec sheet and the Everest comes out on top.
From the base model up it boasts rear parking sensors, dusk-sensing headlamps, rear seat ventilation controls, foglamps, an automatic transmission and rear differential lock as standard - all of which only become standard on high-grade Prado models.
At the top of the range there are also features like active park assist and lane-keep assist, which simply aren’t available on the Prado.
So which is the better match for the Everest: Prado or Fortuner? On paper, the Everest aligns most favourably with the Prado. We’ve driven both, and they’re a lot closer than Toyota’s product planners seem to think.
But to be fair to them we haven’t yet driven the Fortuner. It’s a wild card right now, and until we sample it at its local launch we can’t definitively say it’s not worthy of comparisons with the Everest.
The true test will come when we get all three together for a back-to-back comparison test, which we aim to do in the fourth quarter of this year once all of them are in showrooms and on sale.
Until then, though, weigh in and have your say in the comments below: which do you reckon is the more natural sparring partner for the Ford Everest - the LandCruiser Prado or the HiLux-based Fortuner?