Pretoria: It’s only a few months before Ford launches the new Everest, so we thought it would be a good idea to spend some time with the outgoing model, the Everest Sport, which is one of their more popular models in the range.
It’s also the last of the range that’s built in the Pretoria plant before the switchover to exclusively manufacturing the new Ford Ranger.
Over the years, Ford has tweaked the Everest, often with decals, various alloy rims and interior modifications, and the Everest Sport seems to be the one that has hit all the right notes.
It has been beefed up with a black painted grille, Everest lettering across the bonnet, black bumpers and black 20-inch alloy rims.
It gives the Everest a commanding presence on the road; smaller cars would quickly move across if they were hanging around in the wrong lane as so often happens.
The interior receives leather upholstery with blue stitching and a Sport logo while a leather-covered dashboard adds a premium feel to the cabin which was a pleasant way to spend time even before the upgrades.
When the new Ford Everest arrives, it will be replete with a 12-inch (model dependent) touchscreen infotainment system fitted with SYNC4. For now, the SYNC3 works a treat with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice activation and GPS that’s also fitted with Tracks4Africa.
The model we had on test was the 4x4 version, with the familiar switchgear to toggle between 2WD, 4H and 4L and rear diff lock.
It’s unlikely that with the 20-inch wheels the Everest Sport is going to be tackling 4x4 routes regularly. Four of us went to one just outside Pretoria, more for the drive and being in the bush while throwing some meat on the fire, than the actual offroading.
I’ve driven the Ford Everest often over the years and I kept away from the obstacles that could do rim and body panel damage. As expected, with 225mm ground clearance and an 800mm wading depth, it coped well, so it’s more than just a seven-seater SUV that’s comfortable only on gravel.
The Sport is fitted with Ford’s single turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque with the familiar 10-speed automatic transmission.
It makes a bit of a clatter on start-up but once all the oily bits have been warmed up, there’s hardly a sound in the cabin.
With four adults, a couple of cooler boxes, chairs and the usual knick-knacks for a day outdoors packed in the back with the third row of seats folded down, the power proved more than adequate, with smooth gear changes throughout the trip that included a few steep hills.
The steering is precise and direct. Despite the vehicle being heavily packed, it stayed the course without wavering or serious body roll around long bends.
We did decide though that the two rear seats would be usable mostly for the little ones, although one adult may fit comfortably enough for a short drive.
The Ford Everest Sport is fitted with LED headlights, daytime running lights, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera, ESP with traction control, trailer-sway control, hill-launch assist and roll-over mitigation as well as seven airbags to keep you safe should things go awry.
Based on the Everest XLT, Ford has done a good job at raising its status as an attractive and practical family SUV that presses all the right buttons. At R750 950 I would be haggling with dealers before the new one hits our shores.