“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.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Tow Test - Leon Botha

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.

Look­ing back

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. >

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