Don’t you dare fall asleep.
Base-model family SUVs – especially in white like this particular Ford Everest Ambiente – aren’t the most exciting topic, but this particular one is a big deal.
The new Ford Everest, like the Ranger ute with which it shares its bones, represents a big step forward for its class.
It’s more refined, more powerful, and more luxurious than any of its rivals at the top end of the range – but not everyone has $80,000 to lay down on an Everest Platinum V6.
Enter the Everest Ambiente. It’s still far from cheap, but undercuts the range-topping Platinum by close to $20,000 in 4×4 guise.
Without flashy wheels, a leather-lined interior, and powerful V6 engine, it won’t turn heads like a Platinum on the school run. But it’s every bit as good in all the areas that count.
The 2023 Ford Everest Ambiente is the cheapest model in the range, although our 4×4 tester kicks off at $58,290 before on-roads instead of the $53,290 sticker applied to rear-wheel drive models.
Prices are up $300 for 2023 relative to launch pricing on the Ambiente – a list of all the prices and changes is below.
Although it’s the cheapest Everest, the Ambiente isn’t cheap relative to the wider world of ute-based four-wheel drives. Our tester barely undercuts the range-topping Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed 4×4 ($59,690), and is knocking on the door of the mid-range Isuzu MU-X LS-U 4×4 ($61,400).
2023 Ford Everest pricing:
- Ford Everest Ambiente 4×2 Bi-Turbo 5-seat: $53,290 (+$300)
- Ford Everest Ambiente 4×4 Bi-Turbo 5-seat: $58,290 (+$300)
- Ford Everest Trend 4×2 Bi-Turbo: $60,590 (+$300)
- Ford Everest Sport 4×2 Bi-Turbo: $62,790 (NEW)
- Ford Everest Trend 4×4 Bi-Turbo: $65,590 (+$300)
- Ford Everest Sport 4×4 V6: $69,590 (+$500)
- Ford Everest Platinum 4×4 V6: $77,530 (+$649)
All prices include luxury car tax, if applicable, but exclude on-road costs
With black cloth seat trim, a black dashboard, and black door trims, the Ambiente doesn’t exactly have an exciting… ambience behind the wheel. But it’s very practical, and the infotainment system is class-leading.
With a tilting and telescoping wheel, well-padded seats that accomodate tall drivers, and plenty of storage, the Everest is easily the best 4×4 of its kind out there if you’re planning to spend long stints on the highway – at least, before you get into the LandCruiser realm.
The cloth trim feels soft but hard-wearing, while the armrests are pleasantly padded on both the centre console and the doors. The latter point is important, and is often overlooked by rivals. The steering wheel is nice and chubby, too.
Material quality is generally good, although there’s no escaping the fact this basic interior design serves in everything from the Ranger XL to the range-topping Everest Platinum. There are some awkward cuts and joins which are easier to accept in the more workmanlike Ranger than the Everest, even in the case of our base Ambiente tester.
What isn’t workmanlike is the infotainment system. Although it’s smaller than the screen in flagship models, the 10-inch display in the Ambiente is excellent.
The software looks and feels very modern, and Ford has retained some physical buttons for frequently-used climate functions, so it’s easy to fiddle with the temperature on the move.
The menu structure is logical, and the sheer amount of screen real estate means key information isn’t buried. It’s possible to have your mapping, radio preferences, and climate information on display all at once, for example.
Wireless Apple CarPlay connected flawlessly for us, although it drains the battery rapidly when you aren’t sitting on the wireless charger. A bit more processing power still wouldn’t go astray though; the screen sometimes lags when you’re hopping between functions.
Most of the range shares its digital instrument cluster with the Ranger. It’s a simple, effective unit, but it’s not quite as flashy as the 12.4-inch unit standard in the Platinum.
Storage space around the cabin is plentiful. The central bin is deep, the door pockets have plenty of room, there are two cupholders on the transmission tunnel, and the slot beneath the dashboard is huge. The slot ahead of the gear selector is perfect for a large McDonalds fries – no chip crisis here.
The Everest features an upper glove box in addition to the regular glove box. There are also pop-out cupholders on each end of the dash. Both of these are features are only offered on range-topping Ranger models, but are present across the entire Everest line-up.
Step into the second row and there’s plenty of room, plus a pair of USB outlets.
The slightly raised seating position will help quell sickness by affording short occupants a decent view out the front, and the tall windows mean it’s a light, airy place to spend time. There are three top-tether mounts in the second row, and two in the third, as well as ISOFIX anchors on the outboard second-row seats.
Headroom is pretty good for tall passengers, although the tunnel (which houses the air vents) running through the centre of the roof does eat into space for the central occupant. Given it doesn’t have a sunroof, the Ambiente (like the Trend and Sport) is better for carrying rear passengers than the Platinum.
Where the Everest’s boxy new styling has most paid dividends is in the third row. There’s less wheel arch intrusion than before, which frees up more space for occupants, and headroom is generous enough to accomodate small adults.
Access is relatively easy with the second row slid forward and folded, and the sliding bench means you can free up more legroom for third-row occupants by slightly compromising that of people in the second row.
There are vents back there, along with 12V ports. The big windows mean third-row passengers won’t feel like third-world citizens, and the curtain airbags cover all three rows of seating.
The manual tailgate on the Ambiente does take a reasonably strong pull to close if you’re short, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re often trying to get the lid down with an armful of groceries.
Behind the third row, there’s 259L of cargo space, expanding to 898L with it folded and 1823L with the second row folded. With all three rows up, you can fit either two duffel bags or perhaps one suitcase, depending on its size.
The 2023 Ford Everest is available with two turbo-diesel powertrains: a 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. These engines are both available on the Ranger ute.
Standard on the Ambiente is a 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo four-cylinder engine making 154kW of power and 500Nm of torque. This is 3kW less than the outgoing Everest, while torque is unchanged.
Compared to the equivalent engine in the last Everest, it features new injectors, cooling fans, a new engine cover, new seals, and a host of calibration changes.
The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and is available in rear- or full-time four-wheel drive configurations. Our tester featured four-wheel drive.
The whole range features an 80L fuel tank, although aftermarket specialist ARB offers a long-range unit as well.
AdBlue is required for both the bi-turbo four-cylinder and V6 turbo-diesel. Idle start-stop is also standard across the entire range.
Claimed fuel economy for the 4×2 and 4×4 models is below:
- Ambiente 4×2: 7.1 litres per 100km
- Ambiente 4×4: 7.2 litres per 100km
There’s a sense of polish about the Everest lacking in most ute-based four-wheel drives.
The Bi-Turbo engine fires with a typically diesel clatter, but it almost immediately settles into a refined idle. There’s very little in the way of vibration through the steering wheel, and it doesn’t get gruff or shouty unless you force it to chase the redline.
As small displacement diesel engine goes, it’s damn impressive. Around town it shuffles smoothly through the tightly-stacked lower gears, and the reworked 10-speed transmission is less prone to hunting on light throttle inputs than before.
Rather than feeling caught between gears, it’s more content leaning on the engine’s torque and holding a gear from low revs. Push harder and it kicks down confidently, although occasionally it’ll need to drop one, two, three ratios to find more performance. Such is the price of having so many gears.
It lacks the effortless feeling you get form the V6 option offered higher up the range when you lean on the throttle a bit harder, but even with a few people and their kit on board it doesn’t feel underdone.
Hordes of previous-generation owners have proven the 2.0-litre diesel will happily tow a boat or caravan, even if the more powerful engine on offer in the Sport and Platinum has proven itself more capable again in our testing.
On the optional 18-inch off-road wheels ride quality is excellent, even with just one passenger on board. The chubby tyres (at least relative to those on the range-topping Platinum) help soften off some of the sharper edges we’ve found in the ride on top-end models.
At lower speeds, you don’t feel small, high-frequency bumps shuddering through the frame like you often do in ute-based four-wheel drives, and at high speeds it feels impressively tied-down.
Although it’s not quite on par with a monocoque crossover for refinement, the truck-like nature that has traditionally characterised off-road capable family haulers has been buried under layers of cotton wool here. It’s more grown up than an entry-level, ute-based four-wheel drive has any right to be.
On the open road, the new Everest impresses with its refinement. Ford talked at length about the focus it placed on cutting down on unwanted noise in the cabin when it debuted the new Everest, and there’s no question it’s paid off.
At 100km/h on rural highways it’s easy to have a conversation between rows one and two without straining or raising your voice, and from the front seats it’s clear how much effort has gone into keeping wind and tyre roar at bay. It lacks the superficial luxuries of the Platinum behind the wheel, but the levels of NVH refinement in the Ambiente are every bit as good.
The lane-keep assist keeps you between the white lines on the highway and holds the car nicely in its lane in tricky conditions, and the adaptive cruise control is smooth and smart. It’s easy to see owners enjoying plenty of low-stress kilometres on the highway, and Ford deserves credit for fitting the systems range-wide.
Then again, even this base model is a pricey beast – so we’d be asking questions if they weren’t standard.
Everest 4×4 models feature a choice of 2H, 4H, and 4L modes, along with a 4A mode that offers full-time four-wheel drive on sealed surfaces. The Ambiente doesn’t get the off-road pages/modes on offer in other Everest models, however.
Although it possesses the same hardware as higher-end models, that means inexperienced owners will need to know when to flick into 4H/4L and activate the rear differential lock themselves instead of selecting a terrain type (mud, for example) using the shortcuts offered elsewhere in the range.
You also miss out on the very handy surround-view cameras available elsewhere in the range.
It’s less of an issue in town, where the upright bonnet and window line make the Everest easy to place, but the camera is especially useful when cresting steep hills or dipping into tight gullies off-road.
Activating the various four-wheel drive systems is easy, and there are plenty of clear indicators as to what’s happening under the skin to make nervous off-roaders feel better.
We didn’t take the Ambiente into the wilderness, but previous experience with the Everest has revealed it’s a capable explorer. It has 226mm of ground clearance, with a wading depth of 800mm.
Approach, departure and breakover angles are 30.2, 25 and 21.9 degrees, respectively, and there’s a locking rear differential for rougher stuff. Also standard is a well-calibrated hill descent control.
Everest Ambiente highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- All-season tyres
- 17-inch steel spare wheel
- LED reflector headlights
- C-Shaped LED daytime running lights
- Front fog lights
- LED tail lights
- Black side steps
- Auto power-folding side mirrors
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Two front tow hooks
- Steel underbody protection (4×4 only)
- 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.1-inch Sync 4 touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- FordPass Connect embedded modem
- Wireless phone charger
- Eight-speaker sound system
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Embedded voice assistant
- FordPass with remote start
- Dual-zone climate control
- 5 seats (7 seats optional)
- Fabric upholstery
- 8-way manual driver seat adjustment
- 4-way manual front passenger seat adjustment
- Driver floor mat
- Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
- Dash-mounted pull-out cupholders
- Open storage shelf
- Tilt and reach steering wheel adjustment
- Keyless entry with push-button start
- Vinyl console lid
- Electronic parking brake
- Conventional mechanical gear shifter (4×2 only)
- e-Shifter gear shifter (4×4 only)
- Locking rear differential (4×4 only)
- Push-button selectable drive modes
Ambiente 18-inch Alloy Wheel Pack ($1100, 4×4 only) adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- All-terrain tyres
- Alloy spare wheel
Tow Pack ($1700) adds:
- Tow bar with integrated brake controller
- Blind-spot monitoring with trailer coverage
Third Row Seat Pack ($950, Ambiente) adds:
- 7 seat interior
The Ford Everest earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating rating on the back of an 86 per cent score for adult occupant protection, a 93 per cent score for child occupant protection, a 74 per cent score for vulnerable road user protection, and an 86 per cent safety assist score.
The five-star rating applies to the whole Everest range, and is based on tests carried out on the closely related Ford Ranger ute. For owners of cars built before August 20, 2022, that rating only applies once a software update has been installed by a dealer.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- 9 airbags
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Reverse AEB
- Post-impact braking
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Driver attention alert
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
The Everest is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty like the wider Ford range.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, and the first five services are priced at $329 under the Blue Oval’s capped-price service program.
The Ambiente might be the most basic Everest, but it’s far from a poor relation.
The fact it’s so capable speaks to the quality of the bones underpinning Ford’s new family four-wheel drive, and will have some people asking whether they really need more than what the Ambiente offers.
If it’s a 4×2 model you’re after, the Ambiente is where we’d be look. Likewise if you don’t need seven seats, given it’s the only model available without a third row.
But by the time you’ve added the $950 third-row package and the 18-inch alloy wheel package, the 4×4 model is almost asking Trend money.
Not only does it get more standard equipment, including some that will come in handy off-road, it feels a bit more special behind the wheel thanks to some choice interior improvements.
If you’re already spending $60,000 on a family car, that counts for something.
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MORE: Everything Ford Everest