• Goodyear put its latest products, the Efficient Grip 2 SUV tyres, to the test.
• The tyres were fitted to Ford's Everest SUV and taken on a 900km trip, consisting of both tar and gravel.
• The Everest XLT and Everest Sport were used for the excursion.
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Rooiberg Nature Reserve, Tankwa Farmstall, Garcia Pass and several other gravel and tarmac passes. 900km over three days and a wide variety of fauna, flora, and views to take your breath away.
These were just some of the highlights we experienced during this trip.
Goodyear wanted us to experience their new Efficient Grip 2 SUV tyre, on this trip fitted in 20-inch size (265/50) to the Ford Everest XLT and Sport models. The former offering the 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine (157kW/500Nm), and the latter the single-turbodiesel engine (132kW/420Nm). They are also fitted with the 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
The three-day and two-night excursion took us around and over mountains and valleys in the Boland, Klein Karoo, Tankwa, and the Cederberg areas. Although most SUV owners are unlikely to do any serious off-roading, there is good news for those buyers that will make such a trip, even if it is only once a year.
Behind the wheel
You don't need to be an expert to realise these tyres are made for mainly on-road use. They are smooth and developed for tarmac use with around 10% off-road use in mind. Of the 900km we travelled, I would guess that at least half of that was done off the beaten track. The roads were mostly smooth gravel roads, although there were sections with loose gravel, and we did one rocky path as well. With five cars in convoy, not a single one got a puncture. On some of these gravel stretches, we could drive at 120km/h comfortably; the Everest feeling stable and secure on the gravel.
Back on the tarmac, there was ample opportunity to push the Everest a little harder through the corners. Although these are heavy, ladder-frame-based SUVs, the suspension and tyres did a good job of still offering sufficient handling.
Even though these SUVs are not developed to offer much in steering feedback, on the gravel, you can still confidently feel through the seat and a little through the steering wheel if the grip levels deteriorate through corners. The ESP system also assists on the gravel should things get out of hand, while there is also a specific drive setting for gravel surfaces. Back on the road, you can turn the knob back to the on-road setting.
The current Everest received its facelift in 2019, but it is still remarkedly fresh compared to its competitors and offers a great deal of standard equipment. Our phones were easily paired to the Sync 3 infotainment system, and we could easily stream music when we wanted to.
On the road and gravel stretches, the Everest continued to offer an extremely pliant ride and limited noise intrusion, resulting in a quiet cabin. Note that this is achieved via the sound system that plays the right frequency sounds to lower these noise levels.
Even being such a heavy SUV, I never felt I needed more torque. If you tow equipment with your SUV or will be loading it regularly, the bi-turbo will be the better choice, but the single-turbo did a fine job for everyday driving. Even during full bore acceleration runs from 100km/h onwards, the margin at which the bi-turbo is quicker is almost negligible. At the end of the trip, I also checked the condition of the tyres; there were no significant signs of off-road use, quite impressive considering the terrain we've tackled.
We often drove these vehicles harder and faster than prospective owners would. Still, they impressed in several ways. Even with enthusiastic driving, the average diesel consumption was just over 9.0-litres/100km, for both the single- and bi-turbodiesel variants. Sand driving, for example, will be a completely different ball game with these tyres, but for gravel road driving, a good on-road tyre such as this one did a very respectable job. The trip clearly illustrated that you don't necessarily need another set of tyres if you want to venture off the beaten track, exploring the beauty South Africa has to offer.