They rub sales figures in each other’s faces on a monthly basis, they offer some appealing deals and both are expanding their bakkie and SUV ranges to suit the needs of the people.
Unfortunately, for Toyota, Ford has managed to get in a string of impressive punches. Not only has the Ranger out sold the Hilux by a big margin, they have now given the people an alternative to the entry level Fortuner in the guise of the Everest 2.2 TDCi. I got behind the wheel to see what else this SUV has up its sleeves.
The XLS model is the entry level in the range. It features a bit more black plastic bits on the exterior. It also makes due with standard lights which have been given some tinting to spice things up a bit.
Inside the XLS, you will find Ford's SYNC 1 multimedia system. It offers a small colour screen which incorporates Bluetooth with Voice Activation, plus mobile and multimedia device integration. The interior makes use of durable plastics and has enough space for seven people. Out on the highway, I was pleasantly surprised by the compliant drive of the Everest. I thought it was going to bounce around and feel more like a bakkie but it really doesn’t.
I was driving the six-speed manual 4x4 derivative in the XLS range. Other models include a six-speed manual 4x2 and a six-speed automatic 4x2, the latter makes use of Fords SelectShift transmission with sequential manual mode.
In order to experience the cars' off-road capabilities, we had a little stopover at a challenging 4x4 course. This gave me the opportunity to make use of Fords new Terrain Management System that boasts four driving modes: Normal, Mud, Sand and Rock Crawl.
These modes can be selected via a convenient rotary dial adjacent to the gear lever. The intelligent four-wheel drive system provides permanent drive to all four wheels, using an active transfer case with high and low range, a rear differential lock and Torque on Demand. This is bolstered by the 225 mm ground clearance and substantial 800 mm water wading depth.
For customers wanting a more luxurious option the XLT is something that you should consider. From the outside, it looks nearly identical to its bigger engine brother, the 3.2 TDCi and that is a good thing as many of us South Africans like to have the show more than the go.
Things that I really like on the XLT model include the attractive 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights and all the chrome bits on the front bumpers. Overall the XLT really does look classy and would be my pick.
On the inside, the classiness continues with a more appealing cabin. Yes, there is still a lot of plastic bits, however, the introduction of Fords all-new SYNC 3 infotainment system and a more modern looking climate control system compared to that on the XLS model seems to sweeten the deal.
The new SYNC 3 includes things such as Bluetooth, various connectivity ports, voice recognition, climate control functionality, various multimedia playback functions and more. It also features swipe functions so operating it is very similar to that of a smartphone or tablet.
As with the XLS, the XLT has seating for seven and Ford seem to make a big fuss that their last row of seats fold flat in the floor and not up on the side of the like another SUV in the market. All models also include a number of safety features like EBD and airbags, ABS and more.
The new Ford Everest shares itsDuratorqTDCi engine range with the Ranger 2.2, which is locally produced at its Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth.
It produces a maximum power output of 118kW and a peak torque figure of 385Nm. This is where one of my biggest criticisms comes in. You see, the torque is available from 1 500 to 2 500r/min and while this is great for getting off line or towing, it does not like to be rushed. I found that when trying to overtake, one really needs a long run up to complete the manoeuvre. Other than that, the engine is happiest to just cruise.
Both the XLS and XLT offer customers a bit more in terms of choice. The XLS is basic yet practical and more accessible whereas the XLT is for those wanting more in terms of luxury. That said, I do have one last issue, and it’s a big one.
Out of the entire 2.2 range there is only one 4x4 model which comes in XLS guise and has a six-speed manual. I feel that customers would really like the option of an XLT 4x4. I guess we will have to wait and see if Fords decision pays off. Other than that, the Everest 2.2 must have Toyota worried, especially when you look at its competitive pricing.
Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS - R453 900
Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS AT - R 470 900
Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 4X4 - R 529 900
Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT - R478 900
Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT AT - R495 900
All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, five-year/100 000km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 20 000km, while 4x4 models include free 4x4 training.