Ford Everest FX2 – Escape to Black Mountain

My cursory internet search on ‘Black Mountain’ (I’ll get to why in a moment) produced a Canadian rock band, a butterfly and a high-end golf resort in Thailand, the later sparked more of my interest as it’s the perfect segway for my latest chariot to review, the Ford Everest FX2. The location is pertinent because the last time I was actually behind the wheel of a Ford Everest was at its global launch in Chang Rai, Thailand (which makes it a funny old world).

The ‘FX2’ is a bit of a different animal from the all terrain munching version I drove through the rugged Thai landscape, mainly due to it being rear wheel drive only. So, no Mud, Rock and Snow terrain selection and of course no power to the front wheels, but does that stop you from getting out and experiencing the great outdoors? Well, the simple and emphatic answer is, no – the Everest FX2 IS the great outdoors, a great big Black Mountain and hence my internet search – you see, it all makes sense; eventually.

Just like its 4WD sibling (and unlike the butterfly), the Everest FX2 still comes as a mammoth 7 seater (4.9m long and near 2m high/wide). It still has an 800mm wading depth, it still has a powerful 3.2L TDCi Turbo Diesel engine that still produces 143kW and 470Nm but for this limited (to only 50) edition, Ford have not only ‘civilised’ it a little by pointing the driveshaft to just the rear but also coloured it black, as black as a moonless night in fact. From the exterior paint, and front and rear guards to the roof rails and grille, it’s black, even the windows are tinted! It’s an impressive sight as it stands tall on semi-gloss ‘Depth Graphite’ 18″ Alloy wheels with only the silver front and rear scuff plates (and ‘FX2’ special edition vinyl exterior decal) to cut through the ‘CIA’ darkness.

For those of you that (like me) have ventured inside the Ford Everest, you will be greeted with a very familiar sight, obviously because it’s the same well appointed and well-connected interior as the other Everest’s, however, (and this is hard to explain) knowing that you are in a more exclusive version of the SUV, you can’t help but feel that little bit more special. Ford has added leather seat trim boasting the ‘FX2’ logo to the 1st & 2nd rows but taken away the terrain management system dial – and for this vehicle; it seems like a fair swap.The lack of heated seats certainly gave my derriere a winter wake up kiss upon the first encounter but the AC/heating quickly came to the rescue. The phone connects easily with Sync 2 and the music part of the infotainment system is bold and basey.

Taking to the urban Auckland roads made the memories of Thailand flood back (not just because of the extreme amount of roadworks). The Everest felt solid and substantially/reassuringly large and yet very driveable. EPAS steering, high ride height and oodles of interior space – it was good to be back behind the wheel. The move to 2WD (and again this could all be in my head) made the FX2 feel lighter and a tad more responsive, this is a definite plus when it came to navigating around the city streets. The suspension is taut enough not to wallow around the bends but soft enough not to rattle bones over speed bumps.

I admit that for this review, I spent the majority of the time in and around the confines of the city and to be honest I wished I’d ventured a bit further out. I did manage to find some unsealed roads though, to which the Everest was more than at home with – its big feet combined with a comfortably large road stance had my back – but I certainly felt that the FX2 had plenty more to give.

The Ford Everest FX2 covers the city/country crossover well. Sure the lack of all wheel drive will have you stopping for snow chains at the ski slopes and will keep you safely behind the fence at extreme 4WD meets but you’ll arrive at both events in true (and now ‘exclusive’) Everest style. This big black mountain of an SUV will be your ally in the town and your more than capable friend for weekend warrior pursuits. It’s got the room to cater for heaps of people and even ‘heapier’ gear (or the other way around). In short, the FX2 will more the handle most everyday Kiwi use – and then some.

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