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Not-so-Extreme Makeover: Ford Edition


IF I had to pick my all-time favourite car brand, it would be Ford. There’s just something about that blue oval that appeals to me. I nearly cried my eyes out when I sold my own Ford two weeks ago, but it has (hopefully) moved on to provide many motoring memories to its new owner.

This love of Ford means I’m always extra-tough when it comes to the business of testing its cars. Thankfully, Ford makes my job easy by building cars like the Fiesta ST, which is one of two cars I desperately want to own.

Then there’s the Everest. It’s not a bad car, but it is competing in a segment where the goalposts have been moved since we last met up with it. The Fortuner has been facelifted (and it’s due for another one shortly) and Chevrolet introduced the highly praised Trailblazer in South Africa.

Ford recently gave the Everest a much-needed upgrade so it can at least survive the onslaught of the above-mentioned competitors. The question is, is it enough? After all, the current Everest is based on the discontinued Ranger and these days you simply can’t hide a vehicle’s age by adding a few trinkets.

Style-wise, there’s a new front grille and subtle changes to the front bumper, headlamps, fog lights and door mirrors. It’s not much, but the Everest is certainly better off for it. On the inside the entire range is now fitted with USB and auxiliary inputs while cruise control is standard on the LTD model.

The interior is also one of the places where you start noticing the Everest’s age problem. The centre console, while being perfectly acceptable in terms of quality, struggles to hide the fact that it’s copied and pasted from a bygone model. The twist-and-pull handbrake next to the steering wheel doesn’t help either.

It does have its merits though. The seats on our test mule were very comfortable and shod in nice light-coloured leather. The air conditioning also did a rather marvellous job of keeping the entire cabin at an agreeable 19.5°C, not easy when you consider the fact that the Everest is cavernous, with enough space for five adults and two kids on the fold-down seats in the boot.

Moving on to the engine and we once again have to deal with the age problem. The diesel powertrain is still a gem compared to its main competitors, but I can’t help but think how awesome the Everest would be if it had the new 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbocharged oil-burner out of the new Ranger.

That aside, it does have an almighty torque punch - 380Nm to be exact. I used the Everest to move house and it handled a fully loaded double-axle trailer without a problem. The five-speed automatic was particularly handy and did an adequate job of shifting at the right moment.

I feel it necessary to mention the off-road abilities of the Everest. I didn’t take the test mule off-road this time round, but I have gone off the beaten track in one before. It’s an exceedingly capable machine when the going gets tough, even in the hands of a novice driver.

I guess there are a few very good reasons to buy an Everest and a few reasons why you shouldn’t. If you’re a fan of the blue oval then go ahead. It’s still a good car. Not class-leading, but it’s good enough to keep sales up until the all-new Everest comes along in 2015. I’ve seen a few renderings and concept sketches of the replacement and it looks sensational.

I guess the best advice - if you simply have to have an Everest - is to buy one now, run it until 2015 and trade it in on a new one.

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