I don’t really go for fancy spas with highfalutin treatments like seaweed wraps, caviar massages, and I kid you not, there are even Evian baths and gold facials. You can’t ever go wrong with a plain Swedish or some foot reflexology.
So, an invite to try a hot sandspa and cool mudpack didn’t at all sound enticing until I saw where it was — Sitio Target, Brgy., Sapang Bato, Angeles City, Pampanga.
Located some six kilometers from the border of Clark Freeport, the trip to Puning Hot Spring and Restaurant included hopping in a 4×4 vehicle as part of the way goes over a two-kilometer lahar stretch with breathtaking mountainous views.
A 100+ kilometer drive isn’t really that long, especially with the how good NLEX is, but I figured it would be a good time to test the Everest Trend 4×2 AT while I’m at it.
I know you’re thinking, “why an Everest” when there are so many to choose from? That’s actually the point. I wanted to find out how this lower tier trim compares in the crowded mid-sized SUV market.
The Everest doesn’t follow the common stealthy looking SUVs with sharp lines and edges. It’s a little chubby by comparison but I like the proportions of the front elements from the chrome grille, the halogen with projector headlights lamps, and even the fog lamps. Nothing is oversized and while it may not make the whole facade striking, it’s still undoubtedly handsome.
It has keyless entry but isn’t the ‘smart’ type. You’ll have to key in to turn the ignition. That can be a burden to some who are used to carrying stuff to and from their office desk.
There’s a good amount of leather in the interior, on the seats, steering wheel, gear shifter booth and center console cover. The rest of the surface is either good quality plastic and some silver pieces. It feels bare, but that’s because I’ve tried the Titanium trim already.
Like the exterior, the lines are plain and simple. Vents, eight-inch touchscreen, and side mirror controls (on the left side) are up top. The bottom part of the center stack is a basic set of buttons for audio and aircon controls. There are also a couple of 12v sockets and USB ports, which are placed strategically on top of a cubby hole for power-hungry devices.
What’s a little overloaded is the steering wheel. That’s because the instrument panel still comes with two multi-function displays on either side of the speedometer. Then there’s audio, telephony controls, and cruise control buttons.
Driving the rear-wheel drive layout is a 2.2L diesel engine with 160 PS and 385 Nm of torque. The hefty body looks heavy but feels light and responsive because of the generous torque.
It launches and shoots forward if you’re less than gentle with the throttle, which makes the ride feel a little too peppy. Couple that with leafspring rear suspensions and you’ll literally feel a little bounce to its step. It’s still comfortable but it would be a stretch to call it sedan-like.
There’s more grunt to the engine if you need to overtake, even on EDSA, because it has 40 PS less than the bigger 3.2L engine but can still deliver and shoot through openings in traffic easily.
It feels tall, as it should with its 800 mm wading depth, and that will come in handy as the rainy season kicks in but that obviously compromises rollover resistance to a certain extent.
While it doesn’t have the wiz-bang safety features of the top trim like blind spot assistance, lane keeping system, and collision mitigation (which you don’t really need if you just keep your full attention on the road and use the darn side mirrors), it comes with truck essentials like Hill Launch and Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control, Electronic Stability Program, and Roll Stability Control.
At P1.718 million, the Ford Everest Trend 4×2 AT is more than half a million less than the Titanium 3.2L 4×4 and even 200k cheaper than its Titanium counterpart.
If you don’t live your life on the edge and the riskiest part of your weekend is hitting up lahar trails, get yourself an SUV with the fundamental features and save the extra cash for your fancy sandspas and mudpacks.
Text and photos by Eric Tipan