Ford Everest wins 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Large Off-road SUV

SUVs have become the default family wagon, so it’s easy to forget that some large four-wheel drives remain true to their heritage and are designed and engineered to be as accomplished off the road as on.

This segment has changed over the years. Where once rugged off-roaders offered only rudimentary comfort, sacrificing interior niceties and practicality for a tough-as-nails exterior and ability off the beaten track, today they need to provide comfort and convenience around the streets of our cities.

It’s a duality that some do well, others less so. 

Ford’s impressive Everest does it best of all, and was the surprise over a week of testing which encompassed plenty of highway running, backroad touring and off-road crawling. Despite not being the youngest of the finalists, the Everest shone on the scrappy - and crappy - rural backroads that formed our test loop.

The Everest’s gutsy 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel proved more than adequate in all situations, offering a relaxed and comfortable, and importantly quiet time behind the wheel. The-10-speed conventional automatic proved its worth on the blacktop, allowing the diesel donk under the bonnet to lope effortlessly at speed.

Off-road, the Everest proved every bit as adept as its dual-cab ute Ranger sibling, remaining unflustered and capable no matter the challenges thrown at it.

While others were arguably a smidgeon more capable off the beaten track, the Everest’s blend of decent off-road chops and excellent on-road manners tipped it in judges’ favour. As one judge said: “It feels like it is in another league after driving the others back-to-back. And to think it's the oldest car here. Incredible.”

Inside, the Everest has the technology to keep it contemporary and fresh. And with arguably better third-row comfort than its rivals, the Everest scores points too for its ability as an all-round family hauler.

Crucially though, around town and highway dynamics are equally as important as off-road ability, and where other vehicles ask for compromise, the Everest provides a near-perfect blend of on- and off-road performance. That’s why it’s our Best Large Off-Road SUV for 2022.