2022 has been quite a year for Ford Philippines, the brand is actually celebrating its 25th year in the country. Looking through the year, Ford has celebrated more than just its longevity, strong sales have also bolstered its ascension back into the “top 3” of local automotive brands.
However, while the brand has done a lot to get back to the top 3, I credit the rapid rise in sales to two vehicles, the (next-generation) Ford Ranger and Everest.
Let me tell you why.
Ford Everest and Ranger Media drive
We were lucky enough to experience both vehicles during the launch, where an obstacle course was laid out for us to see the capabilities. At that point in time, there was no reason to doubt that both the Everest and Ranger were capable, but Ford seemed to think that it wasn’t enough, they then decided to give us a more in-depth experience. Thank God they did.
Ford decided to invite media outlets to a 3-day media drive experience with the next-generation Ford Ranger and Everest. We were informed that our drive would allow us to ‘intimately’ get to know both vehicles through various road conditions like smooth highways, provincial roads, sand, lahar, and even river crossings.
Yes, we know how lucky we are.
Day 1 of the event consisted of meeting up in Manila and driving the cars to Clark. Swissotel in Clark would serve as our ‘digs’ during the span of the drive, so we departed Manila after lunch and made our way north.
I was lucky to be assigned first to a Ford Everest Titanium 4×4 in a quite classy and striking orange hue. I will admit that the first time I entered the vehicle I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of features and technology the interior had. It’s one of the few vehicles that I can say made me think “We really are in the year 2022”, the massive infotainment screen dominates the center of the dashboard, and every area is flanked by buttons for various features.
Even the normally overlooked instrument panel is a trip to look at due to the number of customization options and information displayed to the driver. The interior is the epitome of modern, plush, and rugged, an amazing feat by Ford to achieve if you ask me.
The previous Ford Everest and Ranger were considered to be “refined” for the segment, which is why I was pleasantly taken aback at how much more refined the next-generation cars are. First I noticed how quiet the 2.0-Liter Bi-turbo diesel engines are, despite the rugged nature diesel engines usually come with, the Bi-turbo’s are exceptionally refined and sedate in normal driving situations.
Don’t think it’s a slouch though, because the 210 Ps and 500 Nm of torque are more than enough to surge the hefty Everest forward and reach proper highway speeds.
Next up is the overall comfort of the Everest, Its on-road behavior can only be described as smooth and relaxing. I know, I’m surprised that I can say that about a big, heavy 4×4 PPV but you have to try it out yourself to know what I’m talking about.
Safety-wise, the Ford Everest’s top trim Titanium variant comes with a shed load of features. The adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are one of the best in the class.
We arrived at Clark after a relaxing hour-and-a-half journey, we spent the rest of the day being briefed by Ford’s special guest; a person who was part of the design team of the next-generation Ford Everest and Ranger.
The briefing ended with the organizers reminding us to get a good night’s sleep because Day 2 promised to be grueling and fun.
We woke up bright and early around 6:00 am, I chanced a peek outside the window and it seemed the weather was going to behave. We had a quick breakfast and one final product briefing about the vehicles before we departed for Mapanuepe in Zambales, known as the New Zealand of the Philippines.
For the second day, we would be driving from Clark-Subic-Zambales and back, covering the SCTEX and some provincial roads will eventually lead the convoy to the off-the-grid sand and lahar beds of Zambales.
I already touched upon the on-road behavior of the Everest so I’ll skip over to when we arrived at the sandy part of our journey. Now before anything else I have to point out that I have no experience when it comes to off-roading, I’m not sure if driving over potholes in Manila counts.
In any case, due to my lack of experience, I was quite nervous once the asphalt disappeared. Thankfully, we had guides who lead us through the unpredictable terrain and even briefed us on some of the off-road features each vehicle has to help ‘noobs’ like me.
This is where the Ford Everest and Ranger raise the bar, in terms of having intuitive and easy-to-understand off-road features nothing else comes close. It takes a mere few seconds to engage 4×4 and tell the vehicle what type of terrain you’re on, after that it takes care of everything else, almost effortless.
That can also be said about the Ranger and Everest’s capabilities on uneven, wet, and soggy terrain. Neither vehicle struggled or even showed a hint of “stress” as we drove through sand, mud, inclines and even across water. It’s perplexing but somewhat satisfying that both vehicles are comfortable even if there is no road.
There I was bursting through a small riverbed lined with sharp rocks and unseen ruts, but I was inside a cocooned cabin with leather seats, music, and ice-cold air conditioning. It sounds incredibly “first world” but like I said, there’s something satisfying about it because I thought at some point I was going to have to jump out of the vehicle because I beached it on some sandy mound.
It wasn’t the case at all, The Everest and Ranger had all our backs throughout the journey.
After we arrived at Camp Ford in the heart of Mapanuepe, almost at the edge of the island itself I finally got a chance to take the surroundings in. I must say that the sights and sounds give credence to the “New Zealand of the Philippines” name, pine trees tattered the area accompanied by a healthy helping of greenery and surrounding mountain ranges. It’s amazing how a place like this exists and thrives despite being slap bang in the middle of the hot and humid tropical Philippine setting.
It was during that moment of basking in this hidden oasis’ glory that I realized that Mapanuepe is just like the Ranger and Everest. Both vehicles have more or less dominated the segment, due to their otherwordly capabilities, and class-leading refinement. They are the perfect mix of foreign quality, but can perfectly match and deal with the local environment.
In short, the next-generation Ford Everest and Ranger are not invaders, they have come in peace and have become one with the people. Ford wasn’t kidding when they said these vehicles were developed by listening to customer feedback, it really shows.