Rear-drive Everest unconfirmed for NZ

The Everest sports utility is going rear-wheel-drive. But whether that model comes to NZ is not yet clear.

POTENTIAL for the just-announced rear-drive edition of the entry level Everest being sold in New Zealand remains open-ended, a local market spokesman has suggested.

The two-wheel-drive Trend edition of the Ranger utility-based seven-seater wagon will go into the Australian market in September.

Ford NZ is not ready to discuss availability here.

“It looks like an exciting sports utility vehicle option with great potential,” corporate communications spokesman Tom Clancy said today.

“… but at this point it is not confirmed for NZ.”

The Thailand-produced model’s introduction across the Tasman occurs just weeks after Ford Australia ceases production of its elderly Territory – and, of course, the Falcon passenger car it derives from, thus curtailing its domestic car-making activity altogether.

Coincidence? Ford has denied that it has tailored this new Everest edition as a cover for the lack of a seven-seat family version of the expected Territory replacement, the Canadian-built Edge five-seat SUV.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman is quoted as saying the developments are unrelated.

“We are trying to expand our SUV line-up wherever we can see an opportunity,” he has told Australian media. “This is independent of the Territory replacement discussion.”

On Australian pricing, the rear-drive Trend costs around $5300 less than its four-wheel-drive counterpart, a $75,990 ask here.

Trend is the entry specification for NZ, but our neighbour has a lower specification model, the Ambiente, that costs the equivalent of $55,000.

Ford has said it has no plans to create a rear-drive Ambiente, saying the decision to restrict two-wheel-drive to Trend was based on customer feedback and competitor activity.

Everest seems to achieving a solid representation in a ute-drawn wagon sub-sector that also includes the Hilux-derived Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Triton-related Pajero Sport and the Colorado 7/ M-UX, which are respectively built off the related Holden Colorado/Isuzu D-Max. All are offered purely in four-wheel-drive guise.

“We had a big month in May with more than 70 sold but on average we are on target with around 45 to 50 sold per month,” Clancy commented.

“(The) split is approximately 60/40 with Titanium being the top choice. That said, we've been running a Feildays special on the Trend so that may change.”

Apart from the loss of all-paw ability, the rear-drive Everest Trend gets the same features as its all-paw Everest team-mate, including the 143kW/470Nm 3.2-litre diesel engine.

Its release is timed with the introduction, in Australia, with Ford’s latest Sync3 connectivity that adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, what Ford describes as “more conversational voice recognition”, a new 8.0-inch touchscreen with capacitive touch technology that allows swipe and pinch movements like a smart phone, as well as improved graphics, move intuitive operation and compatible apps such as Spotify, Pandora and Google Maps Plus.

Another Everest 2017 model-year update is the addition of Isofix child seat anchorage points, alongside the existing five rear-of-seat anchorage points.