• The Ford Everest Sport SUV is officially being launched in SA with a journey along the famed Garden Route.
• It is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that delivers 132kW and 420Nm using a 10-speed automatic transmission.
• Standard items include 20-inch wheels, LED headlights with daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera.
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The Everest Sport proved time and again that it can do the job of comfortable daily driver on the tarmac surface where it will undoubtedly spend most of its time.
Of course, an SUV this prestigious simply can't be a one-trick pony and must possess the ability to excel where the terrain is less than favourable.
Gravel, sand and stone would be the order of the day as the journey would give the SUV a stern test of its offroad credentials on the majestic Swartberg Pass.
You often have to make sure you're not in a Ranger because the 225mm ground clearance and 1 837mm ride height makes it feel as such. The factory electronic locking differential provides quality traction even in 4x2 mode. Eventually, the rocky terrain became more steep and unpredictable with every turn, engaging to 4x4 from the nifty centre console-positioned Terrain Management System control, the 'true colours shone through.
A resounding yes
Tackling the beautiful Swartberg Pass on a hot day is a sight to behold, with beautiful rocky backdrops that simply screams out for photograph opportunities. There were still sections from the previous day's rainy weather, lending to some thick muddy conditions where the loss of traction and getting stuck can often occur.
This is where you know that the 20-inch wheels are not just for show. It works in unison with the differential in putting down the majority of the useable 420Nm on offer and achieving better traction to two or four wheels. Furthermore, the suspension takes the hits, and from the inside, it merely feels as if you're driving on an iffy road and not a mountain pass.
Do you think the Everest Sport has what it takes to dethrone the Fortuner in the premium SUV segment? Please email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Looking at the multi-function steering wheel, one thing you notice is the lack of gearshift paddles like what the Raptor has. While it may look a tad out of place on the bakkie, Ford once again followed the recipe of doing less to mean more.
Wanting to test out the manual shifting capabilities as well, there are subtly hidden gear up and down buttons positioned on the automatic gear lever. By simply slotting it into 'Sport' or indicated by 'S' on the gear console, the driver can press a button to drop or add a gear while looking as if you're holding it - now that is premium.
It's a different animal on the beaten track because it feels like a bakkie from behind the wheel, and then you treat it as such and, it replies in earnest - with seven seats.
Once the memorable jaunt across a mountain pass came to an end, the midway point of the trip was in Prince (Prins) Albert, where legs could be stretched and looking at the filthy SUVs all parked in a line, garnering plenty of 180-degree turns and locals wanting to know more about it.
It answers lots of questions
You feel like a king (or queen) of a castle from behind the wheel because everything is right there. The Ford SYNC®3, including Radio, MP3, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, and navigation, is easy to setup, not forgetting two additional USB ports. A total of 10 speakers provide musical entertainment.
This is an SUV that makes you want to go somewhere far with your family, not because it's such a pleasure to drive, but it can go anywhere and do what it's asked. Ford could have overcomplicated certain aspects, but the subtle approach pays off, and it looks even meaner than the XLT itself.
Agate Black is a colour choice that makes the Sport look menacing and one that should be considered.
It was back to 4x2 mode and feeling the open road once more for a final time before the final destination at George airport. There are tons of SUV options currently on offer, but not all of them leaves a delible impression like the Everest Sport. There's no Kim Kardashian, just a pretty face vibes here - it is well worth its salt.
Services are to be carried out every 15 000km. It comes with a factory 6-year or 90 000km service plan, three-year or unlimited km Roadside Assistance, 4-year or 120 000km warranty and a five-year or unlimited km corrosion warranty.