WHEN the previous-generation Ford Everest came out in 2015, it effectively set the tone in the midsize pickup-based SUV segment. This was thanks to its cutting-edge technologies, impressive ride, and refinement, and driving dynamics that felt more like a crossover rather than an unwieldy truck.

However, with this next-generation model, it seems history is set to repeat itself as we took the new Everest for a drive around Kanchanaburi in Thailand.

The new Everest still rides on the outgoing model's T6 platform, yet it also manages to be its strength. Even before this model, the T6 platform was already one of the segment leaders in terms of refinement, stability, and comfort. The new one takes it further up a notch. Thanks to a host of reengineering on the chassis, suspension, and structure, the next-gen Ford Everest is once again setting the segment's benchmark in terms of comfort and refinement.

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There will be two variants for the local-spec Ford Everest–mainly 2.0-liter EcoBlue turbo diesel engines. The range kicks off with the single-turbo version that produces 170 hp and 405 Nm of torque, driving the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic. The range-topper continues to be the twin-turbo version that's powering our Titanium+ 4×4 tester here, which produces 210 hp and 500 Nm of torque. This engine sends its power through a four-wheel drive (4WD) system via a 10-speed automatic. While the engine figures remain unchanged, Ford's engineers did a whole lot of re-engineering to improve its refinement.

Stand right next to the Titanium+ 4×4's engine bay, and it's easy to notice the reduced diesel clatter. Moreover, outside noises are well-suppressed, and that includes road, wind, and engine noise. Not only that but ride comfort has also been improved. The outgoing Everest already had a very sturdy and rigid structure, but this has even greater solidity.

The 10-speed automatic has also been improved. Whereas the previous version had a higher chance of shuddering due to the transmission's confusion due to its sheer number of gears, this new one feels very eager to downshift and refined to upshift. We cannot fully comment yet on whether the engine's power delivery has improved since this was just a short drive, but as far as its transmission goes, it is now one of the better gearboxes out there.

We weren't fans of the previous model's numb electric power steering, but Ford's engineers managed to improve this new model's steering accuracy and feel. Lastly, its brakes also feel much firmer now as opposed to the previous model's spongy pedal feel.

The revised T6 platform also made the new Ford Everest a much more capable off-roader. Pushing the wheels 50- mm outward and the front axle 50 mm forward has given it better wheel articulation as well as improving its approach, departure, and break-over angles.

And with stuff like the locking rear differential and hill-descent control now tied into the car's various drive modes, driver's do not have to fumble with the various off-roading features individually. What we're only concerned about is that the button for the locking rear differential and hill descent control are on the screen. This could be a concern in the event that the screen suddenly fails, or the screen's operating system freezes.

Intuitiveness in technology is reflected in the new Ford Everest's various tech features. All variants come as standard with the latest SYNC 4 infotainment that debuted in the F-150 and Mustang Mach-E, and with that, it comes in a portrait touch screen that's available in 12-inches for the Titanium+ variants and 10.1-inches for the lower variants.

This comes mated to a fully digital gauge cluster that's 12.4-inches in size for the Titanium+ variants and 8-inches for the rest of the lineup. The two screens are intuitive to use and are very responsive in how they respond. What's more, Ford managed to preserve the hard buttons for the climate controls, which is always a good thing.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered in all variants, while wireless charging is only available on higher trims. Other goodies are a full suite of advanced driver assistance tech. While most are carried over from the previous model, new for the 2023 Everest is stuff like rear automatic emergency braking, fully automated parking assist, stop-and-go function for the adaptive cruise control, lane centering, evasive steering assist, as well as a new post-collision brake for the automatic emergency braking.

If there's one aspect that truly sums up the new Ford Everest, that would be its looks. The tough yet refined exterior not only showcases that it's an SUV that's at home in an adventure or in the jungle.

Park it inside a high-end resort, and Everest won't look out of place. It has just the right amount of chrome details to make it look refined rather than ostentatious. Along with details (at least in this Titanium+ 4×4 variant) such as the 20-inch wheels, C-clamp LED daytime running lights surrounding the adaptive matrix LED headlights, and a full-width tailgate garnish that emphasizes this SUV's width, the Everest communicates its refined but tough demeanor extremely well.

Not only does it have as good of a ride, but the new Ford Everest is also now a much quieter car compared to all its competitors. Its interior is a much more refined place to be in.

This segment isn't known for offering premium interiors, but the new Ford Everest is set to move the goalpost in this aspect, too. Hard plastics are fewer and further in between since all touchpoints such as the dash and the top of the doors are now finished in either soft-touch materials or leatherette surfaces. Not only that, but the Titanium+ variant comes with various matte silver and faux wood trimmings that give the interior a tasteful atmosphere. Because of the 2023 Ford Everest, expect this utilitarian segment to finally catch on and offer a premium interior.

Based on our first impressions, the new Ford Everest will once again set the benchmark in the midsize pickup-based SUV segment. The leap forward in terms of drivability, technology, and comfort are too significant for its competitors to ignore.