“Little” Everest stands its ground
With the arrival of the new Ford Everest a year or two ago, there were only two models to choose from. But now consumers are spoilt for choice, because the range has been expanded by a further six models.
The first two models of the new Everest were both given the 3.2 litre turbodiesel engine, and with a vehicle on the tow bar it’s pure towing pleasure. Now, a year or so later, Ford has expanded the range to eight models, but stuck with the diesel engines. Another 3.2 litre model was added, as well as five 2.2 litre models. But even though some of the newer models have the smaller engine, Ford didn’t lose the towing ability. You can still hitch up to 3 t with a nose weight of up to 300 kg.
Out of sight
The ball side of the tow bar is detachable. It is a solid piece of square steel that fits into the square tube in the fixed part of the tow bar. A shaft, that fits in a round hole through the tow bar and tube, keeps the tow bar in place, but it does exhibit some play when you jiggle it. It’s minor though and doesn’t bother you. When you’re towing you can hear the movement of the caravan’s coupler as you brake and pull away. The ball is 520 mm above the ground. If you leave the tow bar in place when you unhitch, you can fasten the bolt to the bottom of the tube so that it doesn’t make a noise when there isn’t anything on the ball. You do, however, have to loosen the bolt when you hitch. When you’re not using the tow bar and you want it out of the way, there’s some space underneath the floor in the boot.
On this type of vehicle you’d expect a reverse camera to come standard. While this is the case with the Everest (it’s located above the centre console), the screen is quite small – about the size of two upright matchboxes next to each other. Yes, it’s that small, but it’s still useful.
The lens of the camera sits in the bodywork, right above the ball, and you can see the coupler through the screen as you hitch. The lens’s angle is extra wide and shows you all the possible obstacles you could reverse into. Apart from the sensors that warn you of possible dangers, you can also see what’s going on behind you from the driver’s seat. You can reverse with ease right up to the caravan’s coupler. You can also switch off the sensor’s alarm with the touch of a button. The screen has index lines like the lines on the road. These show you in which direction you’re reversing. The further you turn the steering wheel, the more the lines curve in the direction you’re going. Between the two outside index lines is another line, almost like a broken line on the road – this means you can see the centre of the “lane” and aim with the ball of the tow bar. As soon as you push the caravan’s light socket into the harness section of the Everest, the index lines disappear. The Everest’s computer then knows you have something on the ball and the sensor alarm is deactivated. >
Something else you don’t see everyday is the function with which you can focus on the rear image and enlarge the section at the top of the screen. The lens is 300 mm above the bumper and the image shows 400 mm on both sides. If you enlarge the image, you see 220 mm both sides of the centre point of the lens on the bumper.
A heavy lightweight
The bodywork of the 2.2 litre Everest is relatively heavy for this engine (the 4x4 chassis adds to the weight). The 3.2 4x4 top model’s tare weight is 2 368 kg and its 470 Nm is comfortable with the weight. But the 2.2 has 20% less torque (382 Nm) and when empty weighs only 100 kg less. You feel the heavy bodywork, especially once you’ve hitched and you’re trying to pull away. If you’re not used to the car, it’s easy to stall the engine but you eventually learn to rely more on the clutch to stop it from happening. The engine is also slow at 2 000 rpm. When you pull away in first and the revs go to 4 000 rpm (which makes the engine sound strained) the revs fall a good 1 500 rpm when you shift to second gear. So the engine tows better in the higher revs. Compared to an earlier tow test of the 3.2 litre model, the bigger engine is about 10% heavier on fuel with a similar caravan: 15,1 ℓ/100 km versus 13 ℓ/100 km. If you look only at the price of fuel (R12,71/ℓ at the time of the test), a trip will cost you R1,92/km with the 3.2 and R1,65/km with the 2.2. So if you’re towing for 5 000 km, you’ll save R1 350 – and the car is R100 000 cheaper than the 3.2.
Pieter says Even though the test vehicle has 10 000 km on the clock, the gearbox feels stiff. It doesn’t bother me, but I prefer an automatic gearbox. Every gear has its slot; it’s not like you can drive the Everest like a race car and choose the shortest distance between gears with the gearshift. The engine is a third smaller than that of the 3.2 litre model, but the car has enough power. It’s not necessary to spend an extra R100 000 on the bigger engine.
After only a few kilometres I could convincingly say: ‘I’m already sold!’”The fabric seats are comfortable, but I noticed that the lights don’t have an automatic adjustment that switches it on and off as light conditions change. Also; when you open a door, for example, there isn’t a warning light that comes on on the dashboard. The Everest rather clues you in on what’s going on, and I really like it. When the engine is on and you open the driver’s door, a message on the dashboard reads: ‘Vehicle is on’. If you open the rear passenger door, the
computer lets you know: ‘Rear left door open’. Every vehicle has its speed with which you can comfortably tow. With the Everest I feel completely at home between 100–120 km/h. I have to add, Jurgens’s Xplorer tows well. In fifth and at 100 km/h the engine goes at 2 300 rpm and tows comfortably, but it’s too slow if you want to use sixth. The revs fall with 500 rpm and the engine doesn’t react if you want to accelerate. At 120 km/h and in sixth it’s more comfortable, but you still have to be ready to gear down when going uphill. The ideal towing gear, therefore, is fifth. The ride is surprisingly good on bad dirt roads, even if you expect a more bumpy ride. You also don’t hear any rattles inside the car. When it comes to big 4x4 utility vehicles, the Everest is my choice – it’s simply excellent value for money. Even though it’s not the best towing vehicle in its class, it’s still the one I’d buy. It’s my towing vehicle of the year out of all the vehicles I’ve towed so far, and the reasonable price greatly contributes to this.
CLEAR AND PRESENT. These days engines are usually hidden away completely behind plastic panels, but in the case of the test vehicle, you can see almost the entire engine. The side mirrors are also big enough so you can keep an eye on the caravan.
After only a few kilometres I could convincingly say: ‘I’m already sold!’
Pieter Crous has towed with more than 60 different towing vehicles. This is what he thinks...
ON AND OFF. The loose part of the tow bar can be removed quickly and easily. A pen holds it in place, but if you want to pack it away there’s space underneath the floor in the boot.
FROM THE COCKPIT. Just like you’d expect from a 4x4, the interior is solid, and the people in the back have not been forgotten. They even have their own adjustable fan as well as a power socket. >