TEST DRIVE: 2018 Ford Everest Titanium 4×4 AT Premium Package – Beauty and Brawn
There’s no denying that the market–the Philippines or otherwise– loves SUVs. It’s even been predicted that by 2023–which is only four years away–the biggest automotive markets in the world will have as much as 90 mainstream and crossover SUV models, along with 90 luxury models. Even a huge carmaker like Ford itself announced that, save for the Ford Mustang, it will stop making cars altogether for the North American market–it’s home market–with nearly 90 percent of its product portfolio dedicated to trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles.
That’s like Jollibee saying it’ll stop selling in the Philippines for good. Just step outside though and you’re likely to see either a Ford EcoSport, Ford Ranger, or Ford Everest every couple of minutes or so–or all three at the same time even. As it so happens, an update to the Everest has come to our shores recently—inevitable really since the Ranger, which the Everest shares its platform with, was updated nearly a year ago in September 2018. So before we bid adieu to the top-spec 3.2-liter Ford Everest Titanium 4×4 with the optional Premium Package, Ford Philippines lent it to us for a couple of weeks–and it is undoubtedly the best midsize SUV in the market, and let me tell you why.
Outside, the Everest is pretty much cut and dried with it’s a simple, two-box setup; it’s not a sleek as the Toyota Fortuner nor is it as futuristic-looking as the Mitsubishi Montero Sport, but it looks a lot better than the rest of the pack, particularly if you want something that’s both staid yet robust–which is probably why the aftermarket quasi-Raptor grille has proven to be popular not just with the Ranger pickup but with Everest as well.
The Everest is just as conservative inside, with the black all-leather seats and plethora of buttons and knobs–including those for the AC controls for the rear seats–in the top-spec Titanium variants as the concessions to luxury.
Yet despite its conventional styling, the Everest Titanium has a lot of features that its competitors don’t offer.
Let’s start with the panoramic dual-panel moonroof, which provides a lot of illumination when the sunshade is withdrawn all the way to the back, yet when the sun’s out, not only is the glass tinted but the shade itself is thick enough to block the heat from penetrating the cabin. God knows I’ve driven a few vehicles that–even with the AC blower turned all the way up–I could still feel the heat permeating though the glass roof and thin shade.
Typically, the Everest gets an eight-way, power-adjustable seat for the driver while the front passenger gets a two-way manual version. But with the optional Premium Package, the one riding shotgun gets the same seat as the driver. Other nice touches with the Premium Package are the push-button deployment of the third-row seats and the power liftgate–very helpful touches when you’re starting to feel your age through your lower back.
Of all the nifty tech the Everest Titanium has though, what thoroughly impressed me the most was its abundance of safety measures. As I was driving along the South Luzon Expressway on my way to Tagaytay, a car suddenly cut right in front of me when a buzzer sounded and the heads-up display lit up a row of red LEDs. As I was already looking straight ahead, the alarm–triggered by both front and rear sensors–wasn’t needed–but if you weren’t, it’s a welcome warning since you’re instantly alerted of what can be a potentially dangerous situation.
In addition, an icon in the side mirror lights up whenever there’s a vehicle in the Everest’s blind spot, preventing you from experiencing a very expensive fender bender if you’re the type of driver that turns the steering wheel first before checking the mirrors. Bato bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magalit.
The Everest Titanium Premium has a lot of other safety tech that makes it a worthy of your PHP2 million–give or take a few thousands–like the Tire Pressure Monitoring System which should prevent you from experiencing a very nasty blowout, Hill Descent Control for going downhill slow and steady without riding on the brakes, Terrain Management System for adjusting the four-wheel drive system depending on the terrain, Adaptive Cruise Control for controlling the speed automatically when engaged, Lane Keeping System which alerts you when you’re slowly veering out of your lane, Collision Mitigation which pre-charges the brakes when the system detects an impending collision, and Active Park Assist which practically parallel parks the vehicle for you and only requires your input on the brake and accelerator. And let’s not forget to mention that the Everest has Trailer Sway Control as standard on the off-chance that you need to tow a trailer as it helps you control it while driving.
As for the 3.2-liter mill, its 197 hp and 470 Nm of torque output proved both powerful yet fuel efficient. During a weekend stay in Tagaytay, I drove down to Talisay in Batangas, a quick downhill trip that makes you wish you’re in a lithe hatchback delivering tokwa. The ride back up though through Ligaya Drive was steep, with a total ascent of over 2,200 feet over a distance of 15 kilometers, which means you’re practically stepping on the throttle the entire time. Couple that with the typical Metro Manila traffic and you’d think you’ve practically emptied the 80-liter fuel tank. To my surprise, when I returned the Everest back to Ford Philippines, I still had half a tank of diesel left and a combined fuel consumption of 7.6 km/L. Not bad at all, considering its size and heft for a midsize SUV.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the Everest Titanium variant is this: as the day grew closer for me to return the SUV back to Ford Philippines, the wife was sad and regretful yet felt wistful that we could buy one soon. If it were only that easy, sweetheart, but as the saying goes: “Happy wife, happy life.”