I REMEMBER when the Ford Everest first came to South Africa in 2009. When viewed next to the ultra-masculine, modern Ranger at the time, it looked quite dreary, a run-out model if you will. Now though, there’s a new Everest, which shares its Americanised looks, powertrains and technology with the current bakkie segment leader, the Ranger. I recently spent a week with the new Everest and even took a nap in it, but more about that later...
Battle of the brands
The new Everest is based on the new T6 Ranger platform and we quite liked that when we sampled it at the local launch, recently. With a new Fortuner on the way this Everest has to be good and as I found out, it most certainly is. The battle between Toyota and Ford is poised to heat up nicely for the foreseeable future.
The Everest is a very good-looking stead and many remarked that it looks American, which certainly hasn’t stopped the Ranger from being so widely accepted. The Everest looks massive and it has a very imposing presence on the road. Many people asked me which Ford model it was as I’m sure their perceptions of an Everest are very different. I like the way the SUV looks; it should appeal to many buyers in this segment, especially those looking to replace their older models.
The interior is where you’ll be spending most of your time and I’m happy to report that all is well inside the cockpit of the Everest. You get the same clean layout seen in the new Ranger. Ford has done away with its button fetish and produced a simplified layout, but the steering wheel still has quite a number of buttons, though. The eight-inch Sync II infotainment system does the job but I still feel that it could be an easier system to use.
The new model does have quite a few electronic goodies as standard, with items such as a rear-view camera, parking sensors, auto lights/wipers, Trailer Swat Control and Roll-Over Mitigation. The Limited model that I had on test comes with ten sensors placed around the car, which monitor the driving situation. The sensors will push you back into the correct lane if you drift and will brake for you when the cruise control is activated, should you come too close to the rear of another vehicle.
The off-road capabilities are also well-enhanced by electronics with an electronic diff lock, which aids in off-road situations, as does the low-range transfer case and the on-the-fly terrain control switch, which allows you to set the car up for off-roading. I did not have a chance to take the Everest off-road however, I have taken its Ranger cousin through a serious off-the-beaten-path scenario and found it to be very capable indeed.
What’s it like to drive?
The Everest was quite a joy to cruise around in; it feels a bit softer, more plush than the Ranger, which is exactly what buyers want. I actually had a nap in the cabin during an endurance karting race that I attended and found the seats and cabin in general, to be very accommodating.
The powertrain is also quite meaty; the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel produces 147kW/470Nm, which is enough in the scenario. However, it is quite a thirsty beast, using around 11.0 litres/100km during my time with the car.
The new Everest is a very impressive product. I feel that Ford currently has the edge in this segment, until the new Fortuner arrives and we reassess the situation, that is. That being said, SUVs in this segment are getting pricey, with the model I drove retailing for R646 900, not exactly cheap. However, the cars do come with a heck of a lot of kit these days.