Limpopo - Ford's Everest range has flexed its muscles with five cheaper new model derivatives introduced in a bid to take on the market-leading Toyota Fortuner in SA.
The newcomers are all powered by a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, boosting to eight the number of models available in the line up. Everest was previously only sold in two imported 3.2 turbodiesel versions, but with the recent start of local assembly at Ford’s Silverton plant in Pretoria it’s expanded the range, which will be sold in South Africa and exported to markets across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The seven-seater SUV now gets two engine choices, three specification levels, manual and automatic transmissions, as well as the option of two or four-wheel drive.
Offering a more affordable entry point into Ford’s large SUV, the 2.2 four-cylinder engine is inherited from the Ford Ranger one-tonne bakkie on which the Everest is based. The 118kW and 385Nm outputs are nowhere near as burly as the 147kW/470Nm muscle of the five-cylinder 3.2, but driven on last week’s media launch in Gauteng and Limpopo it happily cruised at the national speed limit and handled stop-start urban driving without feeling terribly under-endowed. It just takes some planning to overtake long trucks, however, and the 2.2 also won’t be the first choice for lugging caravans and boats – even though it does share the 3.2 version’s 3000kg towing capacity.
Notably quiet ride
It’s a notably quiet ride and there’s no telltale tractor noise from the diesel engine, thanks to a trick called noise-cancelling technology which uses microphones to detect and measure engine noise, then cancels it using opposing sound waves from the speakers in the cabin.
The big Ford also lays on the refinement when it comes to ride quality, its Watts Linkage rear suspension and high-profile tyres proving very effective at soaking up bumps.
The Everest is Ford’s first model to feature the latest-generation SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, which includes a large tablet-like touchscreen with pinch and swipe functionality. It’s fitted as standard on all XLT and Limited models and comes with a total of 10 speakers and two USB ports for multimedia connectivity.
The more basic SYNC 1 remains the entry-level system on the XLS models, and offers Bluetooth with Voice Activation, plus mobile and multimedia device integration.
Well stocked range
The entry-level Everest is the 2.2 XLS selling for R453 900 and it’s well-stocked with features like stability control, hill-launch assist, trailer-sway control, rear-parking sensors, and six airbags.
The pricier models get additional items like a driver’s knee airbag; a larger touchscreen; and a programmable second key that lets you set maximum speed, audio volume limit, and prevent the stability control from being deactivated when you loan the vehicle to your teenager.
The range-topping Everest Limited gets smart driver assistance tech like adaptive cruise control with head up display, hands-free parking, and proximity sensors that alert the driver of possible collisions.
All versions get three rows of seats, the rear row folding electronically in the Limited version. The Limited also gets a powered tailgate.
The 4x4 model in the new 2.2 line up is curiously only offered as a six-speed manual, not an auto, which means more chance of stalling when negotiating rugged rock climbs. Apart from that the 4x4 Everest has a formidable offroad-tackling package including an ‘intelligent’ permanent four-wheel drive system with high- and low-range, a rear diff lock, 225mm ground clearance and a generous 800mm water wading depth.
FORD EVEREST PRICES
2.2 TDCi XLS manual 4x2 – R453 900
2.2 TDCi XLS auto 4x2 – R470 900
2.2 TDCi XLS manual 4x4 – R529 900
2.2 TDCi XLT manual 4x2 – R478 900
2.2 TDCi XLT auto 4x2 – R495 900
3.2 TDCi XLT auto 4x2 – R554 900
3.2 TDCi XLT auto 4x4 – R634 900
3.2 TDCi Limited auto 4x4 – R698 900
Prices include four-year/120 000km warranty, five-year/100 000km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 20 000km, while 4x4 models include free offroad training.