Cape Town - Ford's updated-for-2016 Everest SUV, launched in South Africa this week, shares one important characteristic with its predecessor: it's bakkie-based.
The Everest shares its underpinnings with the Ranger one-tonner, also due here in updated format before the end of the year. Back in the day that meant an unsophisticated drive train and a choppy ride, but bakkies (including the Ranger) have come a long way in the past decade in terms of leisure appeal.
While we wouldn't put the new Everest up against Audi's sexy Q7 or a BMW X5, it'll certainly hold its own in its price class. And of course, it has one huge advantage - an honest-to-goodness chassis. With separate body-on-frame architecture, the Everest is inherently tougher than any unit-construction, car style SUV, which should improve its off-road capabilities as well.
That's also where Ford is at with the new Everest, emphasising its 'intelligent' four-wheel drive system, active transfer case with torque on demand, 225mm ground clearance and 800mm water-wading capability.
A switch-on-the-fly terrain management system gives you four settings to choose from - Normal, Snow/Gravel/Grass, Sand and Rock - that re-map throttle response, transmission shift points, torque spread and traction control to suit the ground. And, when the going gets tough, you can manually lock the transfer case in low-range, all-wheel drive.
Nevertheless, with coil springs all round and a Watt's linkage on the rear axle, its suspension is anything but unsophisticated; Ford uses terms such as “stable and predictable”, together with “comfortable and agile”.
Denis Droppa of our sister publication Star Motoring is in Cape Town for the media launch; keep an eye open over the next few days for his driving impressions. We'll reserve judgement until then.
But, to reverse the old cliché, control is nothing without power - and power, in this case, comes from an uprated 3.2-litre five-cylinder Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel with a new exhaust-gas recirculation system to boost efficiency.
It's rated for 147kW at 3000 revs and 470Nm from 1750-2500rpm, applied through a six-speed automatic transmission with a Sport mode as well as a Manual mode for accurate bundu-bashing.
Driver aids include curve control to help you hold the line when you overcook it into a corner, roll stability control, and a electronic stability program with traction control.
The range-topping Limited derivative also boasts blind spot information with cross-traffic alert, and active parallel parking - you work the accelerator, brakes and gears, the Everest does the rest.
The Everest comes standard with 18” alloys, running boards, seating for seven on leather-trimmed folding second and third-row seating, multiple power outlets, rear park assist with rear-view camera and more than 30 places to lose things.
An eight-inch touch-screen with colour-coded corners for menu navigation controls the auto aircon and 10-speaker sound system with integrated subwoofer, while Sync2 connectivity recognises 10 000 natural voice commands so you can be infotained without taking your eyes off the road.
The Limited adds power folding third-row seats, a powered tailgate, active park assist, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam control, blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring, lane-keeping assist, 20 inch alloys high intensity discharge headlights and LED daytime running lights.
XLT - R593 900
Limited - R646 900
These include a five-year or 120 000km warranty and a four-year or 100 000km service plan.