The Ford Everest SUV is receiving plenty of press coverage at the moment, but not for its impressive list of features or highly regarded off-road ability.
The Ranger-based SUV is available as a 4WD and has been engineered to be a very capable and comfortable off-roader, but it’s legally classified as an ‘MA’ vehicle and that – as far as the law is concerned – means it is a “passenger vehicle”, or, more pointedly, “not being an off-road passenger vehicle”.
Manufacturers of off-road capable 4WD vehicles will usually apply for an ‘MC’ or “off-road passenger vehicle” classification. Because that classification has implications for what modifications you can legally do to your vehicle.
In the case of the Everest – which is available in 2WD and 4WD configurations – Ford opted to apply for just the one (MA) classification for all variants, rather than applying for a separate MC classification for the 4WD.
The Everest 4X4’s off-road ability isn’t diminished by it’s MA classification – Ford could apply for and receive an MC classification for the Everest 4WD – but it does potentially have implications for owners wishing to modify their Everest for off-road use.
MC class ‘off-road vehicles’ can legally run lower speed rated tyres, and modified (lifted) suspension, whereas MA class passenger vehicles don’t enjoy quite the same level of leeway.
The crux of the issue is that if you are buying a 4WD and your intention is to modify it further for off-road use, then you should give due consideration to the legal classification of any vehicle you are considering. An MA classification won’t stop you going off-road but it can potentially put you at odds with the law should you decide to upgrade to tougher off-road style tyres and/or raise your vehicle’s suspension.
Other MA classified 4WD wagons
The Ford Everest isn’t alone. There are a handful of other 4WD wagons currently on the market that only have an MA classification, usually because they are also available in 2WD and the manufacturer has chosen not to seek a separate MC classification for the 4WD version.
At the time of writing the following 4WD vehicles have an MA classification:
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Renegade Trailhawk
Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
Suzuki Grand Vitara (MY13 model onwards)
MC classified 4X4 wagons
If you are intending to modify your new 4WD then the following list of MC classified 4WDs are the ones you should be considering. The first person to cross the Simpson in a Bentley Bentayga wins a prize!
Isuzu MU-X (4X4)
Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Mazda CX-9 (AWD)
Nissan Y62 Patrol
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Range Rover Sport
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Volvo XC60 (AWD)