How does Terrain Management System (TMS) work in the Ford Everest?

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It’s becoming more and more common for manufacturers to simplify four-wheel drive systems. The latest is Ford, a company that has introduced the Terrain Management System (or TMS for short) in the all-new Ford Everest.

CarAdvice reader Evelyn has just taken delivery of her mid-spec Ford Everest Trend and wanted to know how to use the system and what it actually does. We grabbed the keys to an Everest Titanium and hit the beaten track to put the TMS to the test.

Q: We have just collected our brand new Ford Everest Trend and we absolutely love it.

Later in the year we will be driving around Australia and likely disconnecting the caravan in parts to do some light off-roading. Our car has a dial that changes between four-wheel drive modes, but we’re not exactly sure how it works. Any tips for us?

A: Ford’s Ranger-based SUV has picked up not only a unique suspension system, but also a Ford Australia-first intelligent off-road system called the Terrain Management System, or TMS.

TMS works independently of the low-range gearbox and rear differential lock to vary stability control intervention, traction control severity and throttle response to allow greater flexibility off-road.

TMS has four available modes — Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand and Rock.

The Normal mode is used for regular driving, where the Everest’s full-time four-wheel drive system can shuffle torque between the front and rear axles as required. You can also use Normal mode in low-range and/or with the rear differential locked.

In the Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, the throttle becomes less sensitive, gears shift up earlier and downshifts occur later. This gives you a more predictable throttle response and gives the engine an ability to use low-down torque to move along as opposed to bursts of torque. TMS is also working in the background to send torque to the front axle as required.

The Sand mode gives the throttle extra sensitivity and allows the wheels to slip even more to maintain momentum. The gearbox will also downshift early to maintain high rpms, which is handy when negotiating turns on sand dunes or other loose surfaces.

The final trick up the sleeve of Everest’s TMS is its Rock mode. This is the most hardcore setting on offer. It asks the driver to engage the vehicle’s low-range gearbox and holds first gear for longer in addition to trying to limit wheel slip by braking wheels individually.

This setting is ideal when tackling terrain with loose rock. It keeps wheel slip under control and allows the car to keep moving without constantly losing traction.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.