FORD EVEREST XLS 2.2 TDCI
FORD EVEREST XLS 2.2 TDCI 6AT 4X2
Big on size, huge on value
WITH 2017 LIKELY TO GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS AN ANNUS HORRIBILIS FOR THE FORD MOTOR CO IN SOUTH AFRICA (THINK KUGA), IT’S COMMENDABLE INDEED THAT FORD LOYALISTS REMAINED WITH THE BLUE OVAL – EVEN IF IT MEANT THAT THOSE BUYERS SEEKING A RUGGED AND AFFORDABLE SUV WOULD MIGRATE UPWARD TO THE BUDGET-BEATING, TWO-WHEELDRIVE EVEREST. BERNARD HELLBERG SR REPORTS ON SPENDING A WEEK WITH FORD’S VALUE-FOR-MONEY SUV.
Playing in a reasonably uncrowded section of the market where Mitsubishi’s excellent new Pajero Sport is challenging for a spot in the limelight, and Toyota’s enduring Fortuner continues to set new sales records every month, the Everest, nevertheless, continues to sell well – averaging 500 units per month.
When the XLS 2.2 TDCI 6AT 4x2 was delivered to the Driven offices recently, first drive impressions made it clear that this fairly hefty (a tad under three tonnes) vehicle would probably be more at home in the bush – despite being rear-wheel-drive only – than in an urban environment.
Gear changes on the Everest were acceptable, rather than excellent with some hesitation between swops but having said this; the overall impression was that ratios are well chosen to extract as much efficiency out of the somewhat underpowered 118 kW turbodiesel the test vehicle was delivered with. Counting in its favour was the miserly average fuel consumption figures of only 8.8 l/100 km, but one still had the feeling that another gear or two would have made a lot of difference.
The turning circle, while not brilliant, served us well in the urban environment, explaining the popularity of the Everest in the hands of female drivers who seemed utterly unfazed by the Everest’s size.
Cruising at a legal 120 km/h, the Everest displayed good straight-line stability with some body roll (as one would expect) when cornered hard. Steering was responsive and direct with
sophisticated technologies such as ESP, traction control, hill launch assist, and trailer sway control adding to the sense of safety provided by the vehicle. No fewer than seven airbags, front, side and full-length curtain, as well as a driver’s knee airbag, proved that Ford is serious about occupant safety.
The first Everest to arrive on our shores almost a decade ago was a dreadful creature. Ungainly, with an elongated look to it made worse by the addition of a spare wheel on the back, it was so obviously a Ranger that had been turned into a station wagon of sorts.
All this has changed. The Everest is an elegant design with a clear Ford identity (especially in front) and narrow yet imposing stance. It outperforms the Fortuner in looks if not in sales, and is locally assembled (Pretoria).
It’s probably in the interior that the Everest has managed to overtake the Fortuner by offering a full colour rear parking camera, an 8” touchscreen, and the unique Ford MyKey, which enables owners to programme a variety of functions into a secondary key – such as maximum speed limit, maximum audio volume, and to prevent the ESP from being deactivated. Can you say teenager-proof?
Given Toyota Fortuner’s domination of the market, and the threat posed by Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport, it’s clear that Ford has carefully put in place a model (eight derivatives in total) which will undercut every rival in terms of price (R510,000), as against R526,800 for the 2.8 GD 6 automatic Fortuner, and the 2.4 Pajero Sport which costs R570,000 but which offers the best output (133 kW) to the Everest’s modest 118, and the Fortuner’s 130 kW.
Counting in the Everest’s favour is its clean styling and neat interior, as well as its price, while the Pajero Sport counters with, probably, the best engine in terms of overall smoothness and a reputation for reliability that explains its brilliant 12 Dakar victories. The Toyota Fortuner, on the other hand, trades on Toyota’s equally impressive reputation for reliability – supported by a dealership in every town – and customer loyalty which few, if any, other volume brands can match.
For the buyer who requires an SUVtype vehicle, but without the ultrasophistication of, say, a KIA Sorrento or Hyundai Santa Fé – the Everest is classy yet rugged enough to be regarded as a genuine all-rounder.
It’s good looking, affordable, economical, and while acceleration figures of 14 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint won’t exactly give you bragging rights at the braai, it’s so well put together, comfortable and less likely to be stolen, that a prospective buyer may very well join the ranks of, on average, 500 customers who buy an Everest every month.