By Otsile Kadiege
After receiving a text message telling me my first official test car will be the third-generation facelifted Ford Everest, I had mixed feelings of excitement and a tad bit of disappointment because I am not a big SUV fan.
After waiting a few weeks, finally delivery day came. There she was, painted with the optional Sea Grey paint (R1,220), which I think is the best suited colour for this locally built Ranger of SUVs. Ford has added premium flair to the rugged Everest with the new grille and revised front-bumper.
The side profile and rear remain the same. The rear-lights have a beautiful c-shape design which looks beautiful when illuminated at night. The word Everest is spread across a chrome bar which dominates the centre boot lid and houses the reverse camera.
Getting inside the premium looking interior was made easy by the side steps and keyless entry (PEPS) system. To my disappointment, much of the cabin is dominated by hard plastics, even on the beautifully designed dashboard. A centre analogue speedometer is surrounded by two small digital displays, one for media (left) and the other for fuel consumption and driver assists (right), which can be operated by buttons on the upper portion of the steering wheel.
Ford’s 8-inch SYNC 3 system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is easy to operate though it showed lots of lag when pinching to zoom whilst using Android Auto for navigation with Waze app. Strangely enough, in 2019, Ford decided to fit a CD loader when you could easily play music via Bluetooth or make use of one of two USB ports. Speaking of music, the Everest has a rather impressive audio system with a subwoofer at the rear.
The centre armrest is soft and has a large bin under and two cup holders which were placed behind Ford’s redesigned gear lever. The front and rear-reclining and sliding seats are comfortable, especially when travelling long-distances. The extra two seats are better suited for children, so I folded them and made use of the 1050-litres for travel luggage.
Ford has used the ‘less is more’ concept and introduced a new fuel efficient yet powerful 2.0-litre Bi-turbo diesel engine which was fitted to my test car. It is paired with a new smooth 10-speed automatic transmission. The Ranger Raptor sourced engine produces 157 kW and 500 N.m of torque, which is 10 kW and 30 N.m more than what the five-cylinder 3.2-litre TDCi engine offers.
This SUV is long-distance champion, its ride quality is refined, even on uneven road surfaces as the 18-inch wheels and suspension were able to filter-out much of the road noise. On the journey I took to Sun City, the frugal 2.0-litre diesel engine saved me lots of money, I averaged 8.8-litres per 100 kilometres on the highway and 9.1-litres per 100 kilometres in town. The SUV was surprisingly easy to manoeuvre through tight parking spaces and around busy traffic in Tshwane CBD.
I had a jaunt at some mild-bundu-bashing at a controlled environment of Carousel in Hammanskraal. Again, ride quality was good off-road and the 500 Nm of torque pulled me up steep inclines.
After a fantastic weekend behind the wheel of the Ford Everest XLT 4WD 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo, which is priced from R701,500, I have warmed up to the idea of having an SUV as a daily. Main rivals from Japan are the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu mu-X.
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