ComparisonVehicle tests

Compared: Toyota Prado Vs Ford Everest

The Toyota Prado is the top-selling mid-sized offroader, and Ford wants a piece of that action, so, which one’s best?

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.

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 on 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 axle – read our explanation of traction control to understand the differences.

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. These modes are only available in high range with the exception of Rock Crawl. Yes, diametrically opposed to the Prado…I don’t know why either.

More details: Toyota Prado offroad systems explanation.

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.

Interior

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 230v outlet and two USBs. Both have about the same sort of space, and both have ISOFIX mounts on the outer second-row seats.

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.

Win: Everest, by the extra distance behind the third row. It looks better than Prado, is better equipped and the only downside is the boot floor design.

On-road Driving

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 really 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.

Win: Everest, unless you like floating.

Infotainment

Toyota’s infotainment system is about average; it has satnav, 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.

Win: Everest, by 10 years.

Safety

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. Go higher in the range (Everest Titanium) and you get blind spot assist, adaptive cruise and front parking sensors as well as rear cross traffic alert.

Win: Everest, because there’s more to safety than five stars.

Off-road Driving

The Everest is not bad offroad. It’s got clearance, lowish gearing, good manual control and a rear locker. In isolation, you’d be impressed with it, in the same way you’d be awed by a state-level athlete.

Unfortunately for the Everest, the Prado is a world-class athlete in the rough. Take a look at this video:

The Everest, even with rear locker and brake traction control working on the front axle, needs significant momentum to make it up the hill. The Prado… just walks it, and that’s not even with Crawl Control working, which somehow even finds more traction. Why the difference? Toyota’s superb traction control calibration is one reason, then there’s the famously long-travel and flexible Toyota suspension, and the lockable centre diff which I maintain is better than any computer-controlled clutch – and if any car engineers would like to prove me wrong please get in contact, I’ll absolutely write a story saying it’s better if I’m shown real-world tests. So far, all I see is marketing claims which simply don’t stand up to reality in the bush.

The Everest also unlocks its centre clutch when at rest, which means it’s hard to secure on a hill – see the Everest review for more details, and the video.

Basically, the Prado is superior to the Everest offroad, and by some margin. And that includes an unlocked Prado – VX and below vs the Everests which all have rear lockers.

Win: Prado, by the length of all your straps joined together.

Off-road Touring

This is where we forget off-road capability and look at touring capability, which is not the same thing. Petrol Range Rovers are superb off-road, but you try setting one up for touring. An old ute is a good tourer, but not great off-road.

Prado has an advantage here because it’s been around for over 20 years and plenty of accessories are 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. And Everest runs AdBlue, which while necessary these days cannot be counted as an advantage when the Prado hasn’t yet been forced into it. However, both cars run DPFs (explanation here).

Both vehicles come with a variety of wheels from 17″ to 20″, 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, whereas no such problem for the Prado.

Prado has plenty of room under the bonnet for a second battery; the Everest has none, so that has to 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.

Win: Prado, by whatever extra distance its second fuel tank will take it.

Towing

We haven’t done a back-to-back tow test so this is an on-paper exercise only. The Everest can tow 3000kg braked 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.

Win: Everest, by the length of a country overtaking lane.

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 (+ORC)
$61,190 (diesel, manual), $63,230 (diesel, automatic), $62,210 (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″ wheels;
  • Satnav;
  • 9 speakers;
  • Climate control with three zones;
  • Rear park sensors;
  • Alarm;
  • Side steps; and
  • Tinted windows.

Ford Everest Trend (+ORC)

$58,990 (7 seat 4WD), $53,990 (7 seat RWD) diesel automatics

  • Full sized alloy spare, underslung;
  • Speed limiter;
  • Rear cross-axle locking differential (4×4 only);
  • Terrain Management System (4×4 only);
  • 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;
  • MyKey;
  • 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.

Win: Everest, by a fat wallet.

Which to 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 not only stands fair comparison with the market leader, but beats it on most criteria too. As these cars are multi-role, the “which to buy” question depends very much on your intended use so let’s look at a few scenarios.

Family car with occasional off-roading – Everest, as it’s the superior on-road drive, has better safety gear and a more functional infotainment unit.
Caravanner – Everest, as it can tow more and Prado offers no advantage.
Off-road tourer – Prado, as its offroad capability and suitability as a tourer is better than Everest.

Bear in mind that both cars can do every scenario, so it’s a question of which is better, there’s not a “do not buy” caution here.

Question: Do you own a Prado or Everest? What’s your view? Leave a comment below.

Prado/Everest vs the Rest

There’s also the Fortuner, Pajero SportHAVAL H9  and Isuzu MU-X which are similar-sized wagons priced under both Prado and Everest. In general, Prado/Everest are a step up in refinement and capability – Prado for off-road, Everest for on-road and safety.

It would be sound advice to start with the lower priced wagons and if they don’t meet your needs then look further up the market. All the wagons listed are capable offroaders, although the H9 is held back by lack of aftermarket accessory support.

And if Prado/Everest isn’t enough wagon for you, consider the Toyota LC200 and Nissan Patrol Y62. We’d usually include the Land Rover Discovery in that list, but the venerable Discovery is about to be replaced by a new model and there appears to be no rush in the aftermarket to support it, limiting the appeal as an offroad tourer.

Further reading


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com

  • Max Bancroft

    As you note the Prado has been around for 20 years. Looking at the sales figures it could be another 20 before the Everest outsells it.

    • I wouldn’t bet on it! All Ford need to do is design a proper centre clutch and fit decent traction control, plus rethink the boot a bit.

      • SymoS

        And a long range tank, and push button start, and it needs to grow 50mm across the cabin, and needs a tighter turning circle, and the customer service needs to improve 1000% overnight and then in 20 years if they keep doing that they might catch-up. As for overtaking? Might need to rethink the whole ute based wagon approach first.

        Remember there is a lot to be said for a bespoke wagon that is also fully built in Japan with Japanese quality, consistency and durability.

        The golden handshake you get when you sell the Prado and the fact there are almost zero maintenance issues for the first 200,000km is what keeps bribing buyers back to Prado, and their word and experience is what sucks in new buyers.

        • Dan

          Must agree SymoS. I have a 2012 Prado Altitude with 150,000 ks on the clock. The quality of build and reliability is outstanding. In all the time I’ve owned it, two things have gone wrong. The passenger side front door courtesy light fell out (replaced by the dealer at cost) and a bracket on the exhaust system needed replacing (probably damaged off-road). I tow a caravan and occasionally bush bash and always have it serviced by the dealer when due. Best $70k I ever spent.

  • Jason sabeeney

    Robert, whilst I agree with most of your comments and summary of the two vehicles I question 2 things. Prado is one of the undisputed kings of resale. Its a bit ambitious to think an Everest will match it. Given depreciation is one of the largest costs of car ownership this can’t be overlooked. Secondly Ford has a terrible reputation for after sales support if you have a problem. Whilst Toyota are not leaders in this area they are significantly better than Ford. Lastly build quality of a Prado would be superior to the Everest.

    • I agree Prados are great for resale, didn’t mean to imply otherwise and Everest won’t match it yet I agree.

      As for aftermarket support…well, I can’t agree there. Everyone has a terrible story to tell about any given manufacturer. Ford have supported the Ranger well, so that says something.

      Build quality – again I don’t agree, Toyota build quality is great but there’s been no major issues with Everest or Ranger. I do hear some Everest owners complaining about the paint quality though.

      • Jason sabeeney

        Robert I have to totally disagree with your comments about after sales support and build quality. Whilst some people may have had a good experience with Ford you only have to be aware of the class action against Ford for their total lack of support over the power shift dual clutch gearbox disgrace in some of their vehicles. This is not one story I am basing my comments on or one or two people who are disgruntled by their apauling disregard for product support and poor engineering but probably thousands of people who are fed up from the enormous amount of inconvenience, cost & stress it’s added to their lives and are simply trying to get some assistance and recognition of the problem. This gearbox issue is but one example of poor engineering and build quality. Another example is the dozens of Ford Territories and Rangers we have in our fleet. It is common to need repairs on the Territories before lease end (3-4 years) including gearbox issues, diff issues, front ball joint issues the list goes on. The Rangers have also had their share of repairs including gearboxes that I am aware of. Unless the Everest is a major departure from Ford’s other vehicles in terms of engineering R&D and customer support I see it being tarred by the same brush. These two factors alone ring warning bells to me. Buy a Ford at your own risk knowing that repairs are not uncommon and support from Ford could well be poor.

  • dinky

    Very Good Robert Pepper. I have an everest ambiante and I fit into the family car with occasional off road and towing a camper trailer category. For me it comes down to cost, $47,000 for a brand new base everest or $47,000 for a 3 or 4 year old Prado with 60,000km + on the clock. Toyota reliability is very good but not that good….. To be honest if I had $60,000 in my pocket I would probably go with the Prado but as it is very happy with the everest