THE MATCH-UP used to be Toyota Prado vs Mitsubishi Pajero, but a lack of investment in the latter means the real comparison is now Prado vs Everest. Yes, there are other ute-based wagons such as Fortuner and Pajero Sport, but they are priced a bit lower, whereas Ford has very much targeted the market leader in their advertising and media materials.
Toyota’s Prado is one of the best-known 4x4s on the market and has been around since 1996, developing through the 90, 120 and now 150 series with various refreshes along the way. The platform isn’t shared with the HiLux, but the Prado 120 was developed into the now-discontinued FJ Cruiser.
The Everest wagon was new for 2015, and developed on Ford’s T6 platform which is shared with the much-admired Ranger PX2.
What do we think of the design?
Both vehicles are about the same size and weight. Both are full-time 4×4, have independent front ends with live-axle rear ends and coils springs with disc brakes all round. The drivetrains are a bit different; the Prado has a Torsen centre differential which splits torque 50:50 front:rear, and there’s no computer control of that split but you can lock the centre differential manually in both high and low range. The Everest has a nominal 40:60 front:rear split and that’s computer controlled. Both vehicles have low-range which require you to be stopped before it can be selected.
Everest is diesel automatic only, but some Prados are available in petrol and manual. The automatic design differs between the two. Ford uses a manumatic system where what you select manually is the gear you’ll get, if the engine can allow it – so you select 3rd, you’re in third. Toyota persists with its odd maximum-select system where if you select third the gearbox will use gears 1 to 3. One effect of this system is that you can’t select second gear to pull away with the gearshift, you need to do so via the menu. Toyota finally fitted a six-speed auto, and Everest has had six speeds since launch.
Every Everest has a cross-axle rear differential lock which can be engaged on the move and in high- or low-range. Only Prado Kakadu models get a locker, and it only works in low-range and you must be stopped or near stopped to engage it. In both cases, brake traction control works on the front.
Toyota has an adaptive terrain system, called Multi-Terrain Select, which is only available on Kakadu. It has options for terrains like Rock and Sand but only works in low-range. In contrast, every Everest gets Ford’s Terrain Management system which has similar modes.
In April 2017 Ford slightly reduced Everest prices and increased specification levels, and added a second rear-drive only model, the Ambiente. There is no rear-drive-only Prado.
What are the interiors like?
The Everest’s front interior looks markedly more up to date than the Prado, which has a touch of the 1990s about it, but if you look at them from a practicality perspective they are about equal. Both are adequate with the usual storage options, but neither have the flexibility of, say, an Isuzu MU-X.
However, that’s practicality. The Ford looks and feels more modern and stylish all round, compared to the Prado, which gives you flashbacks of your grandpa’s Corolla.
Both vehicles have a similar second-row design – seats that fold flat-ish, and slide fore and aft with adjustable seatback. Prado gets points for its three-way split compared to Everest’s 40:60 split, but Everest offers a 220V and USB outlets. Both have about the same sort of space, and both have ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats only.
The third-row is similar too; a split system that folds into the floor. Neither vehicle is spacious in the third row. The Everest does offer child restraints on the third row, but it loses with a lack of tie-down points and the way the third-row seats don’t latch down or fold flat. Prado’s main problem is there’s very little space behind the third row, much less than Everest.
Prado has a side-opening door and Everest a lift-up tailgate. There are pros and cons of each so that design is a draw. The lift-up offers shelter and takes less space in confined areas, the side-opening permits fitting of a table and is used to carry the spare wheel.
The Ford Everest is the winner here thanks to the extra distance behind the third-row seats. It looks better than Prado, is better equipped and the only downside is the boot floor design.
What are they like on the road?
Prados have long been noted for a soft ride and the 2017 models are no exception. If all you want is a joyless, comfortable cruise from A-to-B then the Prado is your choice. If, on the other hand, there’s a drop of petrol in your blood then take the Everest.
Somehow Ford has managed to design a 4WD that not only handles well but has a bit of zesty spark to it. It’s hard to define, but I think it’s the combination of turn-in, steering, and engine note. Whatever it is, if I had to shuffle kids around the ‘burbs I’d reach for the Everest keys every time and only use the Prado if I had to transport an angry grandmother holding a cake she just baked while also lulling a baby to sleep.
The Ford Everest takes another win… unless you like floating.
What are they like off the road?
Prado has an advantage here because it’s been around for more than 20 years and has plenty of accessories available, however, all the basics are also available for Everest, so, lack of gear is not a reason not to buy. But Prado has several advantages over Everest as a tourer. The first is the in-built 150L fuel tank, and then there’s the door-mounted spare. The boot design is flatter on Prado and there’s better tie-downs too.
Both vehicles come with a variety of wheels from 17-inch to 20-inch, but all will run 17s. Ford, however, isn’t keen on top-spec Titanium owners running 17s as they say the electronics and suspension are tuned differently. There’s no such problem for the Prado.
Prado has plenty of room under the bonnet for a second battery; the Everest has none, so that must live in the boot which takes up valuable storage space.
While Everest can most certainly be set up for off-road touring and would be very effective and usable, Prado is a better base.
What about the rough stuff? Well, in isolation the Everest is excellent. It’s got good ground clearance and reasonable articulation, and the Terrain Management System and rear locker mean the Everest is capable of clambering across all sorts of terrain comfortably. But, back-to-back with the Prado and the Prado is just that little bit better when the going is slow and hard. It’s got slightly longer travel suspension which is great for rock crawling and Toyota’s traction control calibration is spot on.
So far, it’s only in low-speed rough country that the Prado edges out the Everest and that’s only when you drive them back to back.
Which one has the better infotainment system?
Toyota’s infotainment system is about average; it has sat-nav, Bluetooth, plays music and so on. It’s not particularly easy to use or modern, and there’s not much in the way of cool features even if the basics are covered.
Unfortunately for Toyota their system is an iPhone 2 and Ford turned up with an iPhone 9 in the form of Sync 3, which is now available across the range and is pretty much the best infotainment on the market at any price range, and certainly in this class. It’s just brilliant – clear, easy to use, highly configurable and feature-rich.
Again, the Ford Everest wins, and by 10 years too.
What about safety features?
Both cars have 5-star ANCAP ratings, but unfortunately all that means is that they’re not terrible, it’s not a basis for comparison. As an example, both the Suzuki Swift Sport and the AMG A45 are 5-star rated… take a guess as to which one has more safety equipment. And so it is here – at the Trend/GXL level the Everest has more safety gear further down the range such as blind spot assist, adaptive cruise and front parking sensors.
Another win for the Ford Everest, because there’s more to safety than just having five stars.
What are they like at towing?
We haven’t done a back-to-back tow test so this is an on-paper exercise only. The Everest can tow 3000kg vs the Prado’s 2500kg, so that’s pretty much the battle right over and done with right there. Prado attempts a defence with trailer sway control and all-wheel drive in low-and-high range… but Everest has those too, so no advantage is gained. The Everest also has a much, much better reversing camera.
While we’ve not done the tow test, I have driven my own PX Ranger back-to-back with a HiLux towing a 3000kg caravan. The HiLux shares the Prado’s engine, and my PX has a slightly older version of the Everest’s engine. I can say that while output specs are similar, my 2012 PX killed the 2017 HiLux for towing – far more tractable and torquey, just seemed to find deep reserves of grunt and get the job done whereas the HiLux seemed breathless.
Another win to the Ford Everest.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Everest has won the most points and spec-for-spec costs less money, so it gets the value award. While Prado resale values are high, I confidently expect Everest resale to be high too. The lists below are of two popular price-equivalent models. The Everest does well on the specs with key differences highlighted:
Toyota Prado 150 GXL
$59,900+ORC (diesel, manual), $61,990+ORC (diesel, automatic), $60,990+ORC (petrol, automatic)
- Five seats (seven is an option);
- Trailer Sway Control;
- Reversing camera;
- Cruise control;
- 220v rear socket;
- Hill Start Assist (auto only);
- Downhill Assist Control (auto only);
- 17-inch wheels;
- 9 speakers;
- Climate control with three zones;
- Rear park sensors;
- Side steps; and
- Tinted windows.
Ford Everest Trend
$58,990+ORC (7 seat 4WD), $53,990+ORC (7 seat RWD) diesel automatics
- Full sized alloy spare, underslung;
- Speed limiter;
- Cruise control;
- Rear cross-axle locking differential;
- Terrain Management;
- Emergency Assist Calling;
- Rear view camera;
- Trailer sway control;
- Trailer pre-wiring;
- Ford Sync 3;
- 8″ colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto;
- 230v rear inverter;
- Dualzone aircon;
- Rear 12v in boot;
- Rear aircon/heating controls;
- 18″ rims;
- Auto high beam;
- Power tailgate;
- Heated side mirrors with power fold and puddle lamps;
- Tinted glass;
- Adaptive cruise with forward collision alert;
- Driver alert system;
- Front park sensors;
- Lane keep assist and departure warning;
- Extra USB port; and
- Rain sensing wipers.
While the Everest is clearly the better value vehicle, to be spec-equivalent with the Prado it’ll need a long-range fuel tank, and in order to keep up with the Prado off-road it’ll also need a front cross-axle differential lock. Consideration should be made to costs of this nature as, when you buy a touring 4X4, you need to budget for the entire build not just the vehicle purchase price.
That said, the win still goes to the Everest.
So, which one should you buy?
Prado has been a sales leader and a mainstay of the 4×4 touring scene for decades, and you don’t achieve that without being an outstanding vehicle. So, the Everest was always going to have its work cut out for it… and yet Ford has delivered a car that doesn’t just stand fair comparison with the market leader, but beats it in just about every criterion you care to measure it against.