When we first laid eyes on the new Ford Everest Sport, we felt there was a chance the car brand had won us, as a family, back. The wider track, longer wheelbase, and shorter overhang at both ends makes for a nicer look too.
With a better stance and tougher grille, and genuine seven seat space, there’s a lot to offer. There are heaps of cup holders, storage areas and vents, plenty of charge points and all with generous boot space. There is even a hot chips holder.
It’s also a full chassis genuine 4×4, unlike our beloved Territory Titanium, a car that was very difficult to replace. We loved that 2.7-litre TDi. It was such a great vehicle. Comfy, brilliant infotainment for the era, and just the right size for urban use.
It offered genuine 1000km highway range and 10-litres/100km around town, but alas, too many kids meant it had to go. Had it had slightly bigger third row seats and another 200mm of boot length, we would have kept that car.
At the time, we checked out the then new Everest. The same spec as our Territory was going to cost $75k, and it was at that point, that Ford lost us. And so it was that we came to pick up the Sport version of this brand new model recently.
Loaded with the Touring Pack, which includes trailer-capable blind spot monitoring, an integrated trailer brake control, 360-degree view camera, a tow bar and zone lighting, our test vehicle is finished in Blue Lightning.
We also scored the optional 18-inch (instead of 20’s) wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Territory AT/S 255/65 tyres (with a full size spare wheel). As tested, all of that amounts to $80,010 drive away, complete with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
You also score 4-years or 60,000km of capped priced servicing, and all variants in the range have a 3500kg towing capacity (which we did not test). The Sport is powered by the new V6 turbo diesel that hammers out 184kW and 600Nm.
It’s mated to a 10-speed auto transmission that is smooth and accurate in shift, and a great partner for the engine. Ford claims a combined 8.5-litres/100km, but the best we could manage was 11.1-litres in our 7-day 1000km test.
We found the engine torquey but unrushed. We timed the Sport at 0–100km/h in 9.1 seconds in 2WD H and 9.4 seconds in 4WD Auto. Around town the go pedal is doughy, and there is some annoying run on when the pedal is released.
Off the lights, the Everest likes to pull a tall gear, making acceleration mediocre. There’s a manual option, but the location of the shift buttons is terrible. Auto stop features too, but we switched it off every time we drove it.
Engine noise in the cabin is minimal for a diesel vehicle and is in fact quite impressive. Inside, the Sport has an 8.0-inch intuitive instrument cluster and a 12.0-inch portrait touchscreen infotainment system that can get a little confusing.
There is a great off-road screen for 4WD models though, while wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also feature, along with wireless charging, sat nav, DAB+ radio, keyless entry/start, and rain sensing wipers.
The FordPass app allows for remote start, while the car itself has dual-zone climate (and was able to cool well even on very hot days). Outside, there’s heated/folding mirrors with puddle lamps, privacy glass, and LED headlights.
There’s also black exterior accents, hands-free electric tailgate, 10-speaker sound, a Sport embossed leather interior, heated/cooled front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat with memory, and eight-way power front passenger seat, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.
Don’t make the mistake that the Sport is a sporty version to drive. Handling is acceptable for a body on chassis off-roader, but it is tall, heavy, long and on the off-road tyres, well, you can’t expect it to be that good.
With a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, it’s loaded with tech including ABS, stability control, intersection assist, lane keeping, nine airbags, evasive steer assist, reverse brake assist. Drive modes include Normal, ECO, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud/Ruts and Sand.
We were impressed with the ABS braking package, although it does need a heavy pedal. You can choose to drive in 2WD H, 4WD Auto, 4WD L, 4WD H and there is a rear diff lock, which is automatically engaged in Sand and Mud/Ruts modes.
There was a lot of time spent in 4WD Auto or 2WD Auto on highways. That said, with 226mm of ground clearance, a water wading depth of 800mm and approach and departure angles of 30.2-degrees and 21.9-degrees, it’s exceptionally capable off road.
As part of our testing, we did a solid day off-roading in our local area, with a 40km rutted, corrugated, and eroded dirt road in 4WD Auto, some off-track low range crawling, climbing, and descending, and a few deep-water crossings.
The 25-degree breakover helps on over the hills, and is good despite the long wheelbase. The suspension and ride on medium speed dirt roads is harsh at times and there is some chatter, even with a drop in tyre pressure. Stability is still first-class at speed, though.
The front seats lack side support, so be prepared to make good use of grab handles and wheel. We also noticed some glitches in the drive mode software during our trip, but it’s in the intelligence this car offers where it comes into its own.
Some of the off road test sections were badly rutted out, and the extra ground clearance and ample ramp over was welcome, as were the pre-sets offered by the off-road modes that were smarter than this reviewer.
The 360-degree camera becomes your best mate in these situations too. Likewise, in urban settings, it’s a God-send, especially when parking, with children around. It’s worth noting the doors are heavy and the step-up high, if you have small people to get in and out.
Overall though, after a week with the Everest, we realised that this is the family car we would have traded our Territory for. It does most things better and is a true off-roader. It’s only flaw being that it’s a little on the large and tall side for urban use.
Our test vehicle was provided by Ford Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Ford Everest Sport, talk to your local Ford dealer. Images: HMC Photography, Sarah Ware.