FORD EVER­EST XLS 2.2 TDCI

FORD EVER­EST XLS 2.2 TDCI 6AT 4X2

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by BERNARD HELL­BERG SR | Images © QUICK­PIC

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.

THE DRIVE

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 LOOKS

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).

STEP IN­SIDE

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?

LAST WORD

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.

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