Historically, manufacturers have played it quite safe in terms of the styling and packaging of their pick-up-based SUVs. As a result, offerings in this segment tend focus on practical- ity, ruggedness and off-road capa- bility. These two models, however, incorporate a raft of modern styling cues while retaining the off-road capability you would expect from vehicles built on ladder frames. Both match when it comes to performance spec: turbodiesel motors with auto- matic transmissions, standard leath- er trim and an array standard safety features that elevate the Ford and Toyota to the summit of the afford- able full-sized family SUV segment. The rivalry between the Ford Everest and the Toyota Fortuner has been intense. Start a debate about the two and it is as if you have added fuel to fire. New versions of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest are out, setting the pace for even more rants and arguments about the two.
The Toyota Fortuner’s design con- sists of a large upper grille that is slanted and framed by thick chrome plating, which extends around the projector headlamps. The lower part of the front bumper features a large air-intake and recessed fog lamps. Along the side, a character line runs across the doors between the flared front and rear fenders, which feature sculpted surfaces. A chrome-plated moulding runs along the belt-line to the rear window where it kicks up. The blacked C-pillar produces a “floating roof” effect. Other fea- tures include side steps, roof rails, a shark-fin antenna and 17 or 18-inch wheels. From the back, a chrome-plated moulding that wraps around from the sides to the back glass highlights Fortuner’s rounded upper body.The rear LED combina- tion lamps and license plate garnish blend with the complex surfaces of the rear body.
The Ford Everest’s design fea- tures an inverted trapezoidal grille. Complementing the muscular hood are the integrated headlamps with signature LED daytime running lights. At the lower half of the front end, an integrated bumper connects to the fog lamps. From the side, the Ford Everest appears sculptural, without sacrificing its robust, bold nature. Also executed well are the large, integrated wheel lips. Prominent LED tail lamps, which recall chiselled design details throughout the vehicle, sit at the rear. Underneath the tailgate, a rear undershield echoes the front of the vehicle and gives the Ford Everest a planted look. No manufacturer seems to be able to make beautiful pick-up-based SUV, but the Ford Everest comes closer to being good looking than the Toyota Fortuner.
In terms of performance, the Toyota sports a new 2.8-litre 4-cylinder tur- bodiesel motor that succeeds the
3.0 D-4D. The new 2.8-litre engine delivers better power, torque and fuel efficiency. However, the engine is slightly less powerful than the Ford’s
3.2-litre; 130 kW (174 hp) com- pared with 147 kW (197 hp), but the torque outputs are similar; 450 Nm for the Fortuner, 470 Nm for the Everest. You would not really guess the Everest is more powerful though, as its engine feels comparatively lazy under acceleration. The Toyota unit’s power and torque delivery feels more refined and the motor is a bit quieter.
Both vehicles employ a six-speed automatic transmission with a low- range transfer case. They feel quite similar in the way that they operate. Both are robust and reliable rath- er than fast- and smooth-shifting. The Toyota’s multifunction steering wheel is equipped with shift paddles whereas the Ford is not. Not that it matters much, because the trans- mission’s responses to driver inputs are sluggish. In terms of fuel econo- my, both models return consumption figures of under 10.0 L/100 km (8.2 for the Everest and 8.5 for the Fortuner).
It seems Ford has walked over the Fortuner in terms of performance and fuel efficiency. However, someone needs to notify Ford that its 3.2-engine is in desperate need of refinement. Ford needs to emulate the smoothness and silence of the Toyota Fortuner’s engine.
The rugged nature of the two pick- up-based SUVs is part of their CV. Both have the ability to cope with the rough stuff on weekends and then still look smart on the trip to the office during the week. Both models have low-range ability that allows them to crawl over the tough- est obstacles and both have elec- tronic switches to lock the rear differential.
The Toyota Fortuner comes stan- dard as a two-wheel drive vehicle with four-high and four-low ranges. The Ford Everest is always a 4×4 with the option to switch into four- low. It is probably why the Toyota Fortuner is a slightly more econom- ical vehicle in everyday driving situations. Take the two on an off-road course and one quickly discovers that the Toyota Fortuner’s engine seemed more willing to surge its body over the crests, while the Ford Everest labour more cumbersomely. The skid plates on the sides of the Everest are flexible and bend as they encounter the ground at break-over point. The Fortuner’s items are less flexible and tended to dig into the turf.
There is not much that the vehicles cannot handle with lock- able diffs and low-range. The Fords Everest has a multi-terrain selector dial that allows you to adjust the off-road settings to the specific surface ahead. The
Toyota Fortuner, in turn, just gets on with the job and feels equally capable off- road.
The Ford and Toyota’s specification lists are awash with modern tech and safety features. Both cars have large touchscreens as standard that connect easily with Smartphones. The standard spec on these two models is good. However, the Toyota Fortuner that offers slightly more kit, with keyless entry and LED-adorned headlamps. The Ford Everest has a reverse-view camera and park distance control where the Toyota Fortuner has only a camera. Leather seats are standard on these models as is climate control, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel and USB ports.
In terms of interior fit and finish, the Toyota Fortuner feels a more premium product. The leather panels alongside the fascia are upmarket and the build quality seems to be of a high order. The Ford Everest lacks these neat touches to make it a premium proposition and some of the switchgear feel a bit plasticky. The digital instrument cluster on the Ford Everest is impressive and allows the driver to display multiple screens of info in order to customise exactly what they want to see in front of them. The Toyota Fortuner has a more traditional analogue setup with a digital trip comput- er between the dials.
Much has been made of the differences between these vehicles’ sev- en-seat configurations. Toyota has retained the third-row seats suspend- ed from the cabin’s sides setup. The foldable third row seats fold down when needed, and back up to free up space for storage. The seats are spring loaded, so less effort is required to lift them into place when they need to be stowed. Unfortunately, with the set-up the seats are never entirely out the way.
While Toyota’s method means the Ford Fortuner has a larger load bay and a lower loading height, the rearmost seats hamper the vehicle’s
overall practicality. The load bay width is restrictive when loading
bulkier objects. By contrast, the Ford Everest uses a more standard system where the third row of seats simply folds flat into the floor. The Ford’s load bay is marginally smaller, but the space is more useable when the third-row seats are down.
The Ford Everest is also roomier when you start to fill it with people. With all 7 seats filled, the back row passengers have more head and shoulder room in the Ford Everest than the Toyota Fortuner and the impression extends in rows 1 and Both contenders’ second rows can slide fore and aft to tailor the levels of legroom available to those seated in rows 2 and 3. The Ford’s lon- ger passenger area affords a greater range of adjustment and therefore greater comfort on longer journeys. The Ford Everest feels the roomier vehicle by utilising its space better than the Toyota Fortuner.
Families are likely to use both vehi- cles for long trips. Ride comfort is of paramount importance, but the rigid structure and load bearing capabil- ities of a ladder chassis are not conducive to ride comfort. Whereas its Toyota Hilux sibling features tra- ditional leaf springs at the rear, the Fortuner uses coil springs to improve ride comfort.
The Ford Everest is equipped with coil springs as well, but it feels the comfortable car overall. On most road surfaces, the Toyota Fortuner feels more jiggly over bumps com- pared to the Ford Everest. This is probably because of its stiff rear axle. Bumps can unsettle the Toyota Fortuner and shake the cabin around. By contrast, the Ford Everest feels more elastic over bumps and on a dirt track. The Everest rear end feels more planted contributing to a much more comfortable ride quality and makes the Ford easier to live with on long journeys.
The Toyota Fortuner makes more sense when it has rough terrain to deal with. In off-road situations, the Toyota Fortuner is more skilful at clambering over rocks or smack- ing through dongas compared to
its rival. As it happens, the Ford Everest’s softer ride quality can lead to a loss of momentum in the bumpy stuff.
There is little to choose between the contenders in the handling depart- ment. Both SUVs have light steering actions that make them easy to use in off-road conditions, but their tillers are a little vague around centre at highway speeds. Both sport improved body control in cornering situations and display markedly less body lean in the bends than their predecessors. They deal with corners and turning at intersections like modern mono- coque SUVs.
A comprehensive bouquet of safety features was something both of these SUV’s predecessors lacked. The Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner are fully up to date. The Ford Everest in XLT spec loses some of its headlining safety systems, such as cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane keeping assistant. Still, it scored five-stars on the Australian NCAP test, as did the Toyota Fortuner, showing that both SUVs have upgraded their safety systems to contemporary standards.
These two pick-up-based SUVs represent massive improvements over their respective predeces- sors. The Ford Everest is more practical, spacious and has the best ride quality, but the Toyota Fortuner claws back with its refined engine, more premium-feeling cabin and it is over its rival.
Both have identical specification lev- els and there is nothing really to set them apart in off-road capability. In the final analysis, you may have to choose whether the better ride comfort in the more spacious Ford Everest is better than the Toyota Fortuner’s refined engine and its off- road prowess. The Fortuner is avail- able at Toyota Kenya, located along Uhuru Highway in Nairobi. CMC Motors Group Limited is the custo- dian of Ford models in Kenya. The firm’s showroom is located along Lusaka Road in Industrial Area, Nairobi.