Ford’s Everest conquers all types of jungle

2016-06-15 06:00
The Ford Everest’s new look is a total revamp and looks much better than its boxy and bulky predecessor.        Photo: SUPPLIED

The Ford Everest’s new look is a total revamp and looks much better than its boxy and bulky predecessor. Photo: SUPPLIED

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SMART-looking SUV’s and 4x4s conquering the concrete jungle, climbing the odd pavement here and there when parking is at a premium, instead of kicking up dust and climbing mountains, have become the norm.

Ford has, however, recently launched its all-new Everest which has had a comprehensive revamp inside and out. And the Everest is a 4x4 which you can really climb mountains with – should you wish to – in style.

It offers the practicality that one would get from its Ranger bakkie origins: enough seats for seven grown-ups – yes grown-ups - and the convenience of Ford’s latest smart technology.

While being built on the platform of its bakkie brother, the Everest has been adapted to such an extent that one hardly notices its bakkie origins – both in looks and drive.

To make you feel that you are not driving a bakkie, the Everest has its own rear suspension and off-road setup.

The model range in South Africa offers one engine and one gearbox (6-speed automatic) with two spec levels – the XLT and the top-spec Limited. Both are 4x4’s.

The 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel from the Ranger is used, but it has received some efficiency upgrades.

Its price could however present a big mountain to climb. The Everest, whose main competitor is the newly upgraded Toyota Fortuner, is priced at R634 900 for the XLT (the model test driven) and R698 900 for the Limited.

The new Toyota Fortuner’s 4x4 models are priced between R582 800 and R646 100.

Exterior

The Everest is based on the chassis of the Ranger bakkie. It is a big vehicle and high. Fortunately it has running boards to help one get in and out.

The new look is a total revamp and looks much better than its boxy, bulky predecessor.

Interior

The Everest’s biggest selling point must be the fact that it is a full seven-seater for adults. Two averaged sized adults will have enough leg and headroom in the backrow.

Apart from the luxury of space, the Everest also has leather seats and high comfort levels in a stylish package.

It is one of the most technologically advanced SUVs on the market. The dashboard is dominated by the modern-looking Ford Sync 2 infotainment system with touchscreen. Comfort features include controls on the steering wheel for the audio/infotainment system.

Sync2 recognises voice commands to control the car’s entertainment system, climate control and connected mobile devices. It has an eight-inch touchscreen which is quite easy to navigate – even by those, such as me, who are technologically challenged and leave it up to our children to connect the phones, etc.

The interior is cleverly designed for practicality (and keeping all 7 occupants happy) with more than 30 stowage spaces and multiple power outlets.

It has standard folding second and third-row seating which offers flexible seating and cargo arrangements.

In the high-spec Everest Limited, the third-row seats feature a power-fold function, a powered tailgate and an optional dual-panel moon roof.

Features

Even the lower spec XLT-model is comprehensively packaged with impressive features, including the innovative new Terrain Management System.

Safety features include seven airbags, driver assist technologies such as an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Roll Stability Control, cruise control, as well as rear park assist with rear view camera.

The XLT has 18-inch alloy wheels and running boards as standard.

The Limited model has a few extra premium features such as power-fold third row seats and powered tailgate, plus driver aids such as Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High Beam Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross Traffic Alert, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist.

Active Park Assist on the Everest Limited enables drivers to parallel park hands-free.

Also fitted are two USB ports, an SD card slot and Aux input plus a total of four 12V sockets.

Exterior enhancements on the Limited model include 20-inch alloy wheels, high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and LED daytime running lights.

Ride

Both models are powered by the latest-generation 3.2-litre five-cylinder Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel engine which produces 147kW of power matched to 470Nm of torque.

Yes, it is big and bulky and it will never handle quite like a car, (as more compact SUV’s do) but Ford has done a lot to remove the bakkie feel from the Everest.

Its suspension is one example of this – and one could feel that on the speed humps on my daily commute. It definitely deals better with those than a bakkie does. On the open road is doesn’t feel floaty or sluggish at all.

And once I got used to its big dimensions, parking it was actually not so bad.

Part of the bakkie feel being taken out of the equation is owing to the six-speed automatic transmission. It shifts smoothly and is surprisingly quick to respond when you put foot to the pedal.

The transmission features the added benefit of a Sport mode, as well as a Manual mode for improved control.

Road noise is also minimal thanks to Ford’s Active Noise Cancellation technology.

The 4x4 aspect

The Everest offers an intelligent four-wheel drive and an advanced Terrain Management System to help navigate challenging terrain. This system gives drivers four settings – Normal, Snow/Gravel/Grass, Sand and Rock.

This alters the vehicle’s throttle response, transmission, intelligent four-wheel drive system and traction control as the circumstances require.

For extreme off-road environments, drivers can manually lock the transfer case in low-range four-wheel drive mode for increased control.

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