Go beyond the road’s end
BRIAN BASSETT drives the new Everest until he got scared … and then forded those drifts too
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
Brian Bassett still smiling after tasting mud in the Everest.