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.