2023 Ford Everest First Drive: What the Ford Explorer Used to Be

Is North America missing out on the 2023 Ford Everest?

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The 2023 Ford Everest is a very important SUV for the Blue Oval brand in the Asia Pacific and Australian region. As a matter of fact, it’s one of Ford’s top-selling vehicles in places like Thailand, Australia, and the Philippines. Whereas most of its competitors are just in their mid-cycle refreshes, the Everest is already a next-generation vehicle. Thus, the Everest will set the tone in the segment especially since the new generation models of its competitors are yet to be released in the coming years. Riding on a heavily re-engineered T6 platform that also underpins the Ford Bronco and the Everest’s pickup sibling, the Ranger, should Ford also sell this in North America?

Isn’t The Everest What The Explorer Used To Be?

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Considering the recent rise in popularity of midsize body-on-frame SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner, it seems to be a no-brainer for Ford to bring in the Everest. As a matter of fact, the ingredients that make up the new Everest remind us of what the Explorer used to be switching to a unibody car-based platform. Yet despite that T6 platform, the Everest is much more crossover-like than before.

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Credit is due to Ford’s heavy re-engineering of its body-on-frame chassis and suspension. With the wheels pushed 50 mm wider than before, it gives the Everest a more planted stance. Moreover, the wider track allows for better wheel articulation when going off-road. Combined with all the tech and gizmos that the new Everest comes with, such as the electronically-selectable drive modes, 360-degree camera, and an electronic locking differential, going off-road with this SUV becomes easy and intuitive even for novice drivers.

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Because I live in the Philippines, the 2023 Ford Everest that we’re driving is catered for the ASEAN region. Thus, we did not experience its mighty 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel as this is currently reserved for Australia. Instead, what’s residing under the hood of the Titanium+ 4x4 variant that we’re driving today is a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 210 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. This is sent through a four-wheel drive (4WD) system via a 10-speed automatic. While the powertrain has been carried over, Ford has re-engineered the engine and transmission for better refinement and drivability.

Ford is also shoving the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo gasoline engine under the Everest’s hood for certain markets. With this in mind, it will be such a huge missed opportunity if Ford didn’t offer this version of the Everest to the North American market.

Comfortable When You Want It, Tough When You Need It

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This is evident the moment you take it out on the open road. Whereas the 10-speed auto used to have a bit of confusion due to its sheer amount of gears, this new one felt more decisive and responsive. Stand next to the engine bay, and even the diesel clatter has been reduced. As for pulling power, its figures are impressive on paper, but it does lose steam at mid to higher RPMs. Thankfully, that’s where the 10-speed automatic does its job of keeping the engine at its sweet spot when overtaking. It’s also pretty fuel-efficient, too, as this midsize SUV managed to achieve 11.6 km/l (27.3 mpg) during our testing.

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Ford’s Australian engineering team is particularly proud of the significantly-improved refinement of the Everest—and they have every right to be. The cabin is very hushed and quiet and it’s now our class benchmark in that respect. Barely any road or wind noise permeates through the cabin, and even when going over rough tarmac, the suspension absorbs the bumps with delicacy with less of the shimmying and vibrations you’d expect in a body-on-frame SUV. This is about as crossover-like as you could currently get in the segment.

And then lastly, as for handling, the 2023 Ford Everest is no sporty SUV like a Mazda CX-9, but at least the body stays secure when going through corners. We weren’t fans of the previous model’s numb and eerily-light electric power steering, but even this wasn’t left untouched by Ford’s engineers. The new electric power steering offers a bit more feel now, and this is even more evident when you take the Everest off-road. Ford also managed to add a bit of precision to the steering, though you still won’t mistake this for a sporty SUV. The brakes have also been improved, offering a firmer pedal feel that’s easy to modulate compared to the previous model’s spongy pedal feel.

A Rugged Yet Tailored Exterior

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The 2023 Ford Everest’s tough yet refined exterior not only showcases that it’s an SUV that’s ready to hit the trails but is also well-suited to visit the hotel parking lot. The new Everest comes with a leaner, more muscular look compared to its more rounded predecessor, yet it also managed to learn a thing or two from the latest issue of GQ. This Titanium+ 4x4 variant has just the right amount of chrome details to make it look refined rather than ostentatious. Combined with some of its details such as the 20-inch wheels, C-clamp LED daytime running lights surrounding the adaptive matrix LED headlights, and a full-width tailgate garnish that emphasizes this SUV’s width, the Everest communicates its tough but sophisticated demeanor extremely well.

It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts

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Likewise, its interior is a much more refined place to be in. This segment, which consists of the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Nissan Terra, isn’t known for offering premium interiors, but the 2023 Ford Everest sets the benchmark in this aspect, too. Hard plastics are fewer and further in between since all touch points such as the dash and the top of the doors are now finished in either soft-touch materials or leatherette surfaces. In addition, this Titanium+ variant even comes with various matte silver and faux wood trimmings. While it once again won’t dethrone a Mazda CX-9 in terms of premium feel, the new Everest is at least the benchmark in this segment.

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Thanks to its revised T6 platform and more upright body, there’s also more space on all three rows of the 2023 Ford Everest. This is even with the Titanium+ 4×4’s panoramic sunroof slightly eating into head space. The trunk of the Ford Everest even grew to 39 liters behind the second row, which is an impressive feat, to begin with. Oh, and the new Everest continues to feature those neat power-folding third-row seats.

Technology That’s Intuitive, Not Overwhelming

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Another aspect where the 2023 Ford Everest is setting the benchmark is when it comes to its comprehensive suite of tech. As standard, all variants come with the latest SYNC 4 infotainment that debuted in the F-150 and Mustang Mach-E. This is housed in a portrait touch screen that’s available in 12-inches for the Titanium+ variants and 10.1-inches for the lower variants. This comes mated to a fully-digital gauge cluster that’s 12.4-inches in size for the Titanium+ variants and 8-inches for the rest of the lineup.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered in all variants, while wireless charging is only available on higher trims. The two screens are intuitive to use and are very responsive in how they respond. Even better is the fact that while Ford’s aim was to reduce the button count inside the Everest, they still kept the important climate control hard buttons, so it’s not only high tech, but it’s still an intuitive interior. Yes, I’m looking at you, Volkswagen Golf Mk. 8.

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Other goodies that the Titanium+ 4×4 comes with are a full suite of advanced driver assistance tech. While most are carried over from the previous model, new for the 2023 Everest is stuff like rear automatic emergency braking, fully-automated parking assist, stop-and-go function for the adaptive cruise control, lane centering, evasive steering assist, as well as a new post-collision brake for the automatic emergency braking.

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All of these features are cohesively designed and well-integrated into the vehicle. Because of this, the technologies that the Everest is pioneering in the segment aren’t just thoroughly modern, but it’s also second nature when it comes to usability.

Should Ford Bring This To North America?

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Absolutely! Sure, you may argue that the Ford Bronco already fulfills the duty of being a rugged off-roader, but since it competes with the Jeep Wrangler, this vehicle doesn’t have the same level of practicality and family-friendliness as vehicles like the Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander. What’s more, the decade-old Toyota 4Runner is currently selling like hotcakes, which basically shares the same ingredients as this Everest—albeit in a much more old-school fashion.

SUVs and crossovers are dime a dozen these days, but only a few offer true off-road capability whilst being practical for family use. Most of these vehicles fall at each extreme end of the spectrum, but the Everest manages to be both rugged and capable yet practical and comfortable for daily use. If this doesn’t sound like a missed opportunity for Ford, then I don’t know what is.

The 2023 Ford Everest is being sold in the Philippines with a price range of PHP1,799,000 ($31,937) for the base Trend with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engine and a six-speed automatic, while this top-trim Titanium+ 4x4 with its 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine and 10-speed auto retails for PHP2,495,000 ($44,292), which even on a North American perspective are competitive prices.

Isaac Atienza
Isaac Atienza
Isaac Atienza is a Filipino motoring journalist who joined TopSpeed.com in 2021. He is a car enthusiast who especially thinks that wagons are the best type of vehicle, though sports cars and anything with three pedals also tickles his fancy.  Read full bio
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