DATE ACQUIRED: MAY 2016 PRICE: $60,990 KM THIS MONTH: 4290KM AV FUEL: 10.9L/100KM KM 01435009


ITíS BEEN six months since our 2015 4X4 Of The Year test, where we judged the Ford Everest Trend as the pick of the seasonís crop.

We havenít seen much of the Australian-designed and engineered wagon since then, but weíve remained keen to spend some more time with it and see how it performs over some outback kilometres.

So when Ford Australiaís offer of a three-month Everest loan coincided with the annual Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory, we jumped at the opportunity to seek out the red dust and stunning sunsets.

The white Trend lobbed to our office with 10,000km already on it, so it was well and truly run in. The run to Alice Springs for the Finke race was just days away, so we sought out a set of more durable tyres than the OE offering.

Fortunately for us, Cooper Tires had just released a new size in its A/T3 range: 265/60R18s. These are just right for the Trend, with the added durability of Light Truck construction and the traction of an All-Terrain tread pattern. Some of our writers have had great results with the Cooper A/T3S, with unbelievable mileage, so we were pretty sure theyíd suit the Everest without upsetting its on-road ride and dynamics.

The on-road ride and refinement had been instrumental in the Everestís success at 4X4OTY, and these traits were still at the fore as we loaded it up with camping kit and left Melbourne early on a winterís morning. The relaxed gait of the five-cylinder diesel engine coupled with the six-speed auto transmission had the Ford cruising comfortably; we were in a similar state as we rolled into Mildura for breakfast.

Melbourne to Mildura is a relatively tedious drive, but it was made easier by the great driving position, dualzone climate control and quality sound system. However, our re-acquaintance with the Everest reminded us of a few complaints we had with its interior design. Firstly, the lack of reach adjustment on the steering column means that the tiller is too far away for long-legged drivers. Secondly, the HVAC controls are a poor design, with small buttons positioned too low and in a dark part of the centre console. It would have been so much better if the volume Light and tuning dials of the audio system were located up higher in the centre stack near the A/V screen; and the temperature control dials, not buttons, could go in the space vacated by them.

Our aim was to break the back of a long drive and put as many kilometres behind us as possible on the first day, and it seemed like no time before we rolled into Peterborough to enjoy a couple of well-deserved coldies and a country feed.

From Peterborough it was a long morningís drive before we grabbed lunch at the historic Farina bakery. This place is a must-see location, operating among the ruins of the old township just south of Marree. It was great to see the work done by the volunteers here, and we grabbed a pie from the age-old underground oven.

Marree was the starting point for our adventure drive along the old Ghan Railway Line up to Alice Springs, which youíll read about in next monthís magazine. The Oodnadatta Track had just re-opened after a few days of rain and we were anxious to see how the Everest handled the outback roads.

Stay tuned.