Go be­yond the road’s end

BRIAN BAS­SETT drives the new Everest un­til he got scared … and then forded those drifts too

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - Styling In­te­rior Safety and se­cu­rity Per­for­mance Costs and com­pe­ti­tion

THE pre­vi­ous model Ford Everest, in­tro­duced in 2010 and up­graded in 2013, was known for its ro­bust dura­bil­ity, as well as its abil­ity to tow heavy loads with­out com­plaint.

In fact, with Easter com­ing up I ex­pect to see se­cond gen­er­a­tion Everest’s tow­ing car­a­vans, boats and trail­ers, some­times all three at once. But the gen­er­a­tion has be­came some­what dated, as far as its tech­nol­ogy is con­cerned, al­though it would still make a great sec­ond­hand buy — if you can find one.

The new Everest is, how­ever a huge upgrade in looks, ca­pa­bil­ity, tech­nol­ogy and tough­ness and we are grate­ful to Dar­ryl Top­per, who we wel­come as the re­centlyap­pointed dealer prin­ci­pal at McCarthy Ford and Mazda in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for mak­ing his own Everest avail­able to us for a few days. The new Everest is a large ve­hi­cle weigh­ing in at around 2,5 tons, with a three- ton tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

The sculpted de­sign re­flects its huge tough­ness and tech­ni­cal prow­ess. The styling is bold, mod­ern and aero­dy­namic.

With some Ranger- like fea­tures it is good look­ing and its pres­ence, whether on or off road is dra­matic and eye- catch­ing.

At the front a large Ford badge sits in the cen­tre of a chromed grille, flanked by Xenon head­light mod­ules ( Halo­gen on the XLT). The run­ning boards are not the usual fash­ion ac­ces­sories just to round off the lines, but does help one get onto the high seat. As stylishly prac­ti­cal is the rear a chromed panel bear­ing the ve­hi­cle’s name sits on an elec­tri­cally- op­er­ated tail­gate.

I also liked the good- look­ing scuff plate below the rear bumper. Chromed elec­tric side mir­rors and door han­dles come as stan­dard and adds a cer­tain so­phis­ti­ca­tion to the over­all de­sign.

The al­loys, 18 inch on the XLT and 20 inch on the Lim­ited un­der­line the so­phis­ti­cated rugged­ness of the ve­hi­cle. The so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach by the de­sign­ers of this ve­hi­cle is car­ried for­ward to the in­te­rior.

Well- fin­ished leather seats and a leather- trimmed in­te­rior give the spa­cious cabin a com­fort­able, high qual­ity feel. The in­te­rior is pre­mium but prac­ti­cal, like the rest of the ve­hi­cle.

Stor­age com­part­ments are ev­ery­where, while and the se­cond row of seats have their own power out­lets. The third row of seats, pro­vides com­fort­able seat­ing for two and is elec­tri­cally op­er­ated in the Lim­ited spec.

So, the Everest is a full seven- seater, ideal for large fam­i­lies.

The front seats are eight- way ad­justable and the rear seats also al­low some ad­just­ment for com­fort. The se­cond row of seats fold down in 60: 40 split and the third row fold down com­pletely to pro­vide a flex­i­ble, large lug­gage space. The large glass sun­roof en­hances the in­te­rior, while the multi- func­tion, fully- ad­justable steer­ing wheel is tac­tile and en­joy­able to use and op­er­ates all the usual func­tions.

The con­trols are well present- ed and eas­ily to hand, while the dash is well de­signed with the driver in mind.

The cen­trally- placed, eight­inch touch screen is easy to op­er­ate but, sadly, there is no GPS of­fered on the Everest.

How­ever, the com­pre­hen­sive dig­i­tal trip com­puter and voice­ac­ti­vated Blue­tooth are a boon, as is the com­pass on the touch screen.

The im­pres­sive au­dio sys­tem boasts 10 speak­ers and the cli­mate con­trol is ex­cel­lent. The Everest has ev­ery safety de­vice you can think of as well as a host of other safety as­sists to nu­mer­ous to men­tion here. There is also selec­tive re­mote en­try and Bur­glar perime­ter alarm, while all seven pas­sen­gers have seat­belts. At present the Everest is pow­ered by Ford’s Du­ra­torq mo­tor de­liv­er­ing 147 kW/ 470 Nm.

The re­fined and ca­pa­ble drive train is driven by a torque- con­verter, six- speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, which un­for­tu­nately does pro­duce some lag, es­pe­cially on take­off, which is no­tice­able even in sport mode. As we had the car for a short while only it was dif­fi­cult to es­ti­mate fuel con­sump­tion, but the claimed 8,2 l/ 100 km looks some­what op­ti­mistic. 0- 100 km/ h comes up in around 12 sec­onds.

The Everest is a se­ri­ous of­froader, but in town and on tar it’s en­joy­able and ath­letic, thanks to ex­cel­lent han­dling and sta­bil­ity, de­liv­ered by the Watt’s link­age sus­pen­sion sys­tem.

Park­ing is no prob­lem and han­dling in traf­fic, thanks partly to the high seat­ing po­si­tion is a plea­sure. My main in­ter­est how­ever was to drive the Everest of­froad. Now I am not a great of­froad driver. None­the­less I took the Everest into the forests above the city and ma­nip­u­lated the Ter­rain Man­age­ment Sys­tem dial, which has four set­tings from nor­mal to rock crawl.

The first chal­lenge was a The Slope where sev­eral ve­hi­cles had failed be­fore. The Everest treated the muddy ruts with a dig­ni­fied con­tempt and once at the top I turned onto rough for­est roads which had re­cently been treated to a great deal of truck traf­fic be­cause of felling op­er­a­tions.

At one stage I lost my way and took a wrong turn onto a steeply slop­ing mud- caked track but, by fid­dling with the as­sists and us­ing the avail­able torque, I re­gained con­trol. Af­ter sev­eral other mis­judg­ments and at one stage us­ing the com­pass to find my way, I ar­rived in Hil­ton two hours later, re­lieved and enor­mously im­pressed with a car which had tack­led ev­ery sur­face imag­in­able and per­formed very well. The XLT will cost you about R600 000 and the Lim­ited around R650 000. There is a five- year or 100 000 km ser­vice plan, a four- year or R120 000 man­u­fac­turer’s war­ranty and a five- year/ 100 000 km cor­ro­sion war­ranty. Also look at Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport, Toy­ota For­tuna, Jeep Chero­kee, Hyundai Sante Fe and Kia Sorento

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Brian Bas­sett still smil­ing af­ter tast­ing mud in the Everest.

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