Everest is up there in its class
WHEN my wife and I spent a weekend in the Drakensberg, the first thing she noticed were the beautiful views. I, on the other hand, saw the new Ford Everest up close for the first time.
To say it’s an improvement on the previous model doesn’t do it justice. There was virtually no resemblance, but for the blue Ford logo.
When I had a chance to drive the new model shortly after testing its double-cab stablemate, the Ranger, I made the most of it.
It’s big, but after a while you get used to it. Minimum specification parking bays in malls just allow it to fill the space between the white lines.
But driving is made easier with a reversing camera, parking-assist beeps and a semi-automatic parallel parking system that turns the steering wheel for you.
Once inside, the first thing I noticed was the amount of space there was compared with the older model. It’s almost cavernous and, similar to the Ranger, it’s incredibly comfortable to be seated in.
The vehicle is a seven-seater, but the two seats that pop up in the boot will probably not be comfortable for anyone taller than 1.5m over a long distance.
However, while I was testing the Everest, we had all our boys at home for the weekend to attend a family dinner in Newtown.
No, not all of us who live on the other side of the Jukskei are so narrow-minded that we’re content to remain cocooned in security estates with Blue Bull stickers on the back of our double cabs. We had to stop to pick up my mother-in-law and arrived at the venue first.
It was only then that we got the full picture of how much space and weight seven people were. Ordinarily, we would have had to take two cars.
Swing the 3.2- litre 5- cylinder into action and the dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree, showing a myriad electronic gadgets – it will take you a while to get used to what they all mean.
Rest assured, though, the instruments all have their uses. The Everest is packed with elec- trickery designed to keep you on (and off) the road in nearly any environment.
It’s an impressive list that includes electronic stability programme, hill-launch assist, hilldescent control, ABS, curve control, roll-stability control, a tyre-pressure monitor, lane-keeping systems and a host of other gadgets designed by the clever people in white coats.
It has an integrated 8-inch touch screen – as part of Ford’s in-car connectivity solution, Sync2 – that recognises 10 000 natural voice commands, controls the climate, and allows a number of cellular devices to connect.
We averaged just over 12 litres to 100km in various modes, which isn’t too bad, considering the Everest’s weight, size and six- speed automatic gearbox.
Off-road, like the Ranger, there’s not much it has to stand back for, with almost every conceivable electronic aid making it a cinch tackling rough and tough terrain.
Personally, I believe these electronics are a “problem” because, at the touch of a button or turn of a dial, everyone now thinks they are invincible.
If you don’t believe me, go to one of the many unsupervised 4 x 4 tracks in and around Gauteng at the weekend and see how ecosystems, vehicles and egos are being destroyed.
I drove the Everest around a track close to our home and it handled everything with aplomb.
However, the test car was shod with 20-inch rims and road tyres. This isn’t ideal.
If the brake calipers allow, I’d go a size or two down and put on some serious off-road rubber.
On the way to our destination, one of the kids was reading through the owner’s manual and spotted informatIon about playing white noise through the speakers to cancel out road and wind noise.
The Ford Everest makes onand off-road driving a cruise, but can be tricky to park in city malls’ bays.