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Seemingly accurate renderings of the next-generation Ford Everest have hit the Internet on the back of leaked information surrounding the engine and model line-up earmarked for the Fortuner-rivalling pickup-based SUV.
According to a report posted by Australian motoring website goauto Ford had leaked, and then hastily covered up, information surrounding the next-generation Everest on the company’s consumer resource website.
Everest name to remain?
The leaked information strongly suggests that Ford will stick with the Everest moniker for the Asia/Pacific (and therefore probably African) markets, although when questioned Ford Australia did say not to read too deeply into the naming as it could have been used merely as a place-holder by the site’s developers. In other markets such as South America it could wear the Endeavour nameplate.
Model and engine line-up little changed but greater refinement?
The web glimpse also showed that the Everest will line-up will continue in a similar vein to that of the current model, featuring an all-diesel engine line-up, a choice of 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains as well as manual and automatic transmission options.
A pair of specification levels (LTD and XLT) were reportedly leaked; the former listed as a 4×4 with automatic transmission and the latter a manual with a choice of 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains.
The site described a 3,0 TDCi-badged vehicle – possibly utilising the four-cylinder turbodiesel doing service in the current Everest or possibly an uprated version thereof. But we can't see why the Ranger's new 3,2-litre, five-cylinder turbodiesel wouldn't be offered instead. There are also reports that the Ranger’s 2,2-litre turbodiesel engine (110 kW/375 N.m) could form an entry point into the new Everest range. Some further digging has revealed a rumour that the Everest could be offered in some markets with the marque's new 2,0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.
Reports also suggest that, much like the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the new Everest will feature a coil-sprung rear suspension set-up to improve on-road manners, a more upmarket cabin and three rows of seating for adult passengers – the third row possibly utilising a fold-flat seat stowage system to address the load space-robbing arrangement of the current car.
Rife with rivals
Although Ford’s Australian arm has previously denied an intention of developing a new Everest for the Asia/Pacific market, the reported web leak suggests that a recent spate of strong showings in the pickup-based SUV segment may have lead to a change of heart. The success of Toyota’s Fortuner is obviously a driving factor, but there are several other newcomers that could provide some fertile competition in this segment:
Chevrolet Trailblazer/Isuzu MU-7: GM’s upcoming Trailblazer SUV is underpinned by the same platform as its next-generation Isuzu KB pickup. Power is provided by a 2,8-litre Duramax diesel engine developing 132 kW and 470 N.m of torque. It will reportedly hit our shores in the third-quarter of 2012 and could also spawn an Isuzu-badged spin-off called the MU-7 (though not in SA).
Nissan Pathfinder: Although the present Pathfinder is a rugged, pickup-based SUV offering, the new model is said to be a more premium-placed offering. The move upmarket also appears to mark a move towards better road manners thanks to the adoption of a unibody platform and independent suspension set-up. Although it has yet to be confirmed, initial reports suggest that the Pathfinder will be underpinned by a modified version of Nissan’s FF-L (Front-engine, Front-wheel drive, Large) platform. Essentially an elongated version of the platform underpinning the current Murano, the FF-L will see the Pathfinder sacrificing a modicum of its off-road ability in favour of more car-like ride and handling characteristics.
Volkswagen Amarok SUV: There are rumours of an SUV spin-off of Volkswagen’s Argentine-made Amarok pick-up. Although there is potential for such a model to cannibalise sales from both the Amarok and Tiguan/Touareg, Volkswagen’s propensity for exploiting every automotive niche conceivable could see such a model emerge to do battle with the Fortuner and Trailblazer.
Ford Motor Company South Africa commented that it was well aware of the importance of having a presence in the pickup-based SUV segment and would evaluate the possibility of competing in such a segment on an ongoing basis. There was, however, no confirmation of production approval or expected launch dates for a next-generation Everest model. On-line reports suggest production to start in Thailand as soon as the end of this year.