FORD’S Everest only arrived in showrooms the winter before last, yet its credentials are well established.
The two-box wagon is a proper off-roader, built on the Ford Ranger ute chassis with coil springs for the rear plus some extra bits. Inside and out it’s a well-considered Australian design for highways and back tracks, a very worthy 4X4 of The Year for 2015 here at 4X4 Australia.
Now the Ford Everest has been given a little work-over by the folk at MSA 4x4 Accessories, makers of all manner of storage solutions. This one is more of a subtle showcase of MSA’s products, a little quieter in character than some of the other wagons and utes on the MSA fleet, which include a Toyota Prado, Ford Ranger and a Y62 Nissan Patrol, all used for real-world testing of product.
Here, Queensland-based MSA 4x4 Accessories see the Ford Everest as more the family tourer, the wagon for day-to-day duties through the week and a decent vehicle for exploring bush and beach on the weekends. So MSA were looking to get into the mindset of that Everest owner, a different owner maybe to those out exploring the scrub with their LandCruiser at every opportunity.
This is MSA’s first look at the SUV side of four-wheel driving, their first move to design and make a product for those choosing a vehicle with the capability to get onto the beach or further into the forest with the family, yet not wanting to tackle challenging tracks day-in, day-out.
The resulting Ford Everest here is a handsome and comfortable machine that’s a little more capable than what’s on the showroom floor. It’s well kitted-out with MSA gear, including the latest in the company’s extra-special drawers for the cargo area.
For all the add-ons, this is no sky-scraping, mud-tyred wagon that’ll scare the neighbours. No need here for big bullbars, side rails, big spots and such.
FMSA director Shane Miles and his crew appreciated the style of the Everest and kept things clean.
So up front on this deep gray Everest Trend is a Ford factory nudge bar, powder-coated black and wearing a GME radio aerial (a GME TX3350 UHF radio keeps everyone in touch) plus an 18-inch Great Whites LED light bar.
Underneath the bonnet the five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel has been re-mapped by ChipTorque (for a bit over $1500) with 430Nm taken up to 480Nm and delivered more progressively; this helps eliminate a good deal of turbo lag, and the Ford is more responsive off the mark and spins out that bit smoother.
A Redarc battery management SBI12 (for dual Narva power outlets down the back) and a Redarc Tow Pro Elite Brake Controller has been slotted in, but there’s no room for a second battery in the Ford’s engine bay; here MSA added a Waeco CoolPower battery pack for the fridge, figuring Everest owners would prefer that to a second battery taking up permanent space at the back.
A Tough Dog suspension set-up with heavy duty shocks gives the wagon an extra 40mm lift, and the rig sits on 17-inch black and chrome alloy wheels from Dynamic Wheel Australia. These in turn are shod with Coopers’ 265/70R17 Discoverer A/T3s.
At the rear is a tow bar and up top is a Rhino roof rack with an MSA Tourer Pack for storing bulky but light pieces such as tents, camp chairs and bedding (the canvas Tourer Packs and the Basket Pack are available in a number of sizes, all 100 per cent waterproof). Yet the highlights on this Ford Everest are inside the cabin.
All five seats are covered with MSA’s canvas seat covers. Waterproof, dogproof and dustproof canvas, they’re airbag-compatible with double panelling in high wear areas and integrated adjustable lumbar support. Like all its gear there’s a lifetime guarantee, and MSA’s 12-pocket, aluminium-framed organisers sit on the back of the front seats.
The firm’s latest drawer systems are fitted to the Ford: MSA’s 4x4 Explorer Aluminium Storage Drawers. These are patented works of engineering art, no less.
A ‘pro-glide’ slide runner system, with sealed bearings along the side, allow the drawers to extend 100 per cent of their length. This means there’s no re-arranging needed to reach gear packed at the back of the drawer. The lockable, all-aluminium drawers will carry 250kg and have been crash-tested. There’s a patented ‘stay-open block’ so they will remain open even when parked on slopes.
And the patented piece de resistance? An LED strip lights up when the drawer is opened right up (it’s an integrated electrical circuit with no wires and an override switch if you don’t want the kids to see you pinching the last packet of chips).
The MSA drawers are modular, and where some explorers may opt for MSA’s fridge slide or drop slide, here the 12mm ply top of the drawers has been left free. The thinking is a fridge slide could be an inconvenience in a family wagon, so here the Waeco CFX40 fridge-freezer just sits on top. But these drawers – in four sizes, from 945mm long by 275mm high and 510mm wide on the outside – are just as useful for day-to-day use as for exploring.
It’s this approach to efficient, safe and tidy packing – plus those subtle mods – that broadens this Everest’s appeal as a wagon for all seasons.
MSA FORD EVEREST GEAR
MSA 4X4 Explorer Aluminium Storage Drawer System: RRP $2549
MSA 4X4 Canvas seat covers with cotton lining and integrated
lumbar supports: RRP $933 (complete set, front and rear)
MSA 4X4 seat organisers: RRP $108 (each)
MSA 4X4 Tourer Pack: RRP $438
MSA 4X4 Accessories
Address: 43 Harrington Streetc Arundel, Gold Coast, 4214
ph: (07) 5594 6664