By Amanda Mfuphi (@mfuphi)
What happens if you are one of three main fighters in a competitive space? You could always take comfort in coming second as there will always be someone who will take the last spot and third spot. I mean no one wants to come last in any race, right? But then, what if that number 3 falls away? Now you could be number 2 and last in the segment. Not good news. With General Motors pulling out of the country and the expected demise of the Trailblazer in South Africa, the Ford Everest will only be doing battle with only the Toyota Fortuner (I sadly do not recognise the Pajero Sport for this analogy). Number 2 can’t be comfortable anymore and the Ford Everest will need to do all it can to take the top spot if it does not want to see itself coming out second and automatically last in the race. I spent some time with the Ford Everest this past week and I think it has what it takes to capture the hearts and minds of the would-be Trailblazer buyers and close in on the Toyota Fortuner.
My first impression of the Ford Everest was, what a beast of a machine. As a person who has been with the Ford family since my first car, a Ford Fiesta 2005, model to my current drive, the 2014 Ford Kuga 2014, I found the Ford Everest to be an impressive car and a potential upgrade (Ed – no money exchanged hands for this review). Another appeal of the Ford Everest is that it is locally produced. Ford deployed R2.5-billion to its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria to produce the car locally and make it competitive price wise. Enough about me, let’s talk about the car. The super elevated drive position in the Ford Everest gives the driver an edge in detecting life’s irritations like traffic jam miles away. Interestingly, this saved us from getting stuck on the N3 in Johannesburg on our way to Durban. Upon spotting the traffic jam ahead of us, we quickly managed to off-ramp and saved ourselves valuable time in our trip. This high ride position also made me feel safe and secure throughout the whole journey.
In Durban, I put the Ford Everest beast through a mild test to test on its ability to handle terrain an SUV might encounter in the hands of a South Africa driver. You know how we South Africans like challenging our SUVs whether they have off-roading abilities or not. I must say the notion of “no parking sir” is a myth with the Ford Everest, this beast has massive ground clearance that enables a driver to easily glide over a pavement or two (be careful not to break any traffic rules). Despite numerous protests from friends that a 4X4 is required to tackle the beach sand, I took the 4X2 Ford Everest on a drive to one of Durban’s beaches sand and the Ford Everest emerged victorious.
The Ford Everest is a spacious 7 seater for large families. There is ample space upfront, in the second row and the third row. Small children can actually sit comfortably in the third row for a long trip. I found the plastic step on either side of the second row useful for getting in and out of the third row. Most of us have had interesting tussles with gravity trying to access third row seats. The boot space of the Ford Everest is equally satisfactory even with the third row of sits up. Should you require bigger boot space, the third row seats can easily be folded down to give you extra boot space.
The Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT automatic comes standard with a large touchscreen fitted with Ford’s latest generation SYNC3 integrated communications and entertainment system. SYNC3 includes a total of 10 speakers, Apple CarPlay (which works like a dream), Android Auto and 2 USB ports for multimedia connectivity. This means fewer fights about charging ports during those long road trips.
The Everest’s 2.2 engine produces 118kW of power and 385Nm of torque. This gives the engine more than enough power for both highway and city driving despite its big frame. Take offs and overtaking manoeuvres are not a drag. For such impressive power, the 2.2 engine had an impressive fuel consumption of 9.4l/100km on the drive down to Durban which climbed up to a reasonable consumption of 9.7l/100km on the uphill drive to Johannesburg. This is a bit far off from Ford’s claimed 7.3/100km but acceptable for a vehicle this big.
These are the prices of the complete Ford Everest range (which are correct as at 30 June 2017):
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4X2: R459,900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4X2: R477,900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4X4: R537,900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT 6MT 4X2: R489,900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4X2: R509,900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4X2: R569,900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4X4: R639,900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi LIMITED 6AT 4X4: R699,900
All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, five-year/100 000km service plan, three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.
The space and comfort of the Ford Everest make it a good choice. You may climb into a Fortuner and feel that it is much of a more premium offering but switch on the ignition and get driving, you will wish you were in the comfort of the Everest. Seeing that these vehicles will be used by most families to criss-cross the country, the Everest has the potential to flip the would-be Trailblazer buyers and close the gap between itself and the popular Toyota Forturner.
Likes: size, comfort and space. Dislike: hard plastics on dashboard (have you seen the Fortuner’s cabin?). Party trick: Big screen with Ford’s SYNC3.