Ford’s brand new Ranger has been doing reasonably well on the South African market (averaging over 1800 per month), but with the Everest reasonably outdated and the latest facelift only a slight update, local fans are hankering for more. The fight between the Toyota Fortuner and the Chev Trailblazer have stolen the spotlight and left the Everest behind despite its comparable qualities, but the story is not quite over yet.
What we know
A gentleman named Jackson Emiris took the photos above on his phone just outside Melbourne of what is reportedly a test mule of the new Everest/Endeavour, most likely being run by the Ford engineering facility in Victoria, Australia. He then sent it in to the Australian Cars Guide website, saying:
“It seemed to be a Ford Territory cross Ford Ranger. On the back of the car it read ‘Left Hand Drive’ and ‘Engineering Evaluation Vehicle’.”
That said there’s no indication that the Everest, as we know it, won’t be built in Thailand on the same platform as the Ford Ranger. The Ranger-based SUV is said to be set for production next year already, and looks decidedly like a Ranger bakkie with a boot, courtesy of a Territory. Ford’s Todd Hoevener was reportedly put on the project over a year ago, but little has been communicated since aside from this photo.
Still, we’d be surprised to see Ford release the vehicle with the current Ranger face and not the new family face found on the Kuga and EcoSport. It’s more likely that this test mule is a “top hat” (Ford’s own terminology for bakkie-based SUVs) stuck on the latest T6 Ranger’s platform in order to test weight, handling and the like. That would also explain the lack of any attempts to cover up the design. As Cars Guide writer Paul Gover observed, the most obscured element is the rear suspension (click through photos in the scroller above), where the engineers have made extra effort to hide the mechanics from view.
Still just rumours
If all this proves to be correct, we’re anticipating it’s launch within the next, then, possibly in India once the EcoSport has finished its rounds. Roll out is most likely to begin as a 2015 model, likely in late 2014. There’s no news on engines yet – in fact, there’s no official confirmation of the incoming SUV at all from Ford Motor Company. Communication from the company earlier this year indicated that it will, once produced, be destined for Australian, Asian and East Asian markets.