Now positioned above its traditional rivals, the new, thoroughly enhanced Ford Everest faces a new test. We spent time with the V6 Platinum variant…

  • + Design; standard spec; V6 powertrain; on-road refinement; off-road capability
  • – How will consumers receive its positioning?

Since its conception, each generation of the Ford Everest was a step up from the iteration that went before, as — and no surprise here — it arguably is with most new generations of modern vehicles, with each iteration becoming more technologically advanced, refined, comfortable and capacious. At the same time, new iterations of the off-roader variety must have enhanced 4×4 capability. And so it was with the Blue Oval brand’s bakkie-based SUV. Each generation was better than before.

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However, the box-fresh Everest has climbed the steps even further, taking three steps at a time in its stride on its way to reaching the peak. It’s become more high-tech, refined, comfortable, capacious and off-road capable than its forebears. And, with it, Ford has now positioned it above its former rivals, the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu mu-X. Yup, you read that right; the Everest now takes on the likes of the Land Cruiser Prado. It’s a rather ambitious yet compelling task Ford has set out for it.

The new Everest line-up comprises two models, the Sport (R965 400), which, ahem, sports Ford’s familiar 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine producing 154 kW and 500 Nm of torque, and the model tested here, the range-topping Platinum (R1 113 100). (A four-year/120 000 km Ford Protect warranty is included in the price. However, it’s worth noting that service and maintenance plans are optional.)

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The Platinum exclusively employs the firm’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, endowed with 184 kW and 600 Nm. Power and torque are transferred to the tarmac (or the roads less travelled, where the Ford Everest is commendably capable) via a well-calibrated 10-speed automatic transmission. The shifts felt smooth, with the ‘box selecting gears in a fuss-free fashion during the slow-moving, early-morning commute, driving up Cape Town’s steep inclines and when depressing the throttle when the highway opened up. The engine response was near-immediate, with the full complement of torque delivered to the wheels from 1 750 r/min.

The noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels inside the cabin were minimal, with the diesel drone and turbocharger whine seldom heard when seated on the driver’s pew. The 10-way electrically adjustable item offers the pilot a commanding view of the road ahead. Front seat heating and ventilation are standard. (The multifunction tiller and second-row seats also offer heating functionality.)

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The ride quality on-road and brief stints on gravel were comfortable, even with the Platinum’s eye-catching 21-inch alloys (wrapped in 275/45-size Good Year rubber). However, we’d suggest specifying the optional 18-inch items (fitted with all-terrain tyres) if you plan to do more serious off-roading. And you don’t want to scratch that flashy 21-inch wheels. But fortunately, the Platinum derivative ships with a 360-degree camera system to assist in manoeuvring in tight parking spaces and negotiating challenging terrains, where, like its bakkie sibling, the Ranger, it’s remarkably adept.

The brand-new Ford Everest measures 4 940 mm bow to stern, 2 207 mm in width (including the side mirrors), and 1 837 mm in height (Platinum; the Sport is 1 841 mm tall). The wheelbase measures 2 900 mm. The ground clearance comes in at 229 mm. The approach, ramp and departure angles are 30.3, 21.9 and 23.2 degrees, respectively. The wading depth is 800 mm.

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The quartet of driving modes are 2H, 4H, 4A and 4L. An electronic locking rear diff is standard. Terrain modes include Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul (the braked and unbraked towing masses are 750 kg and 3 500 kg, respectively), Slippery, Mud/Ruts, and Sand. The SUV’s off-road status (and other vehicle information) can be viewed on the 12-inch LCD instrument binnacle.

The 12-inch infotainment system dominates the dashboard. It looks impressive, though we would have liked the portrait-orientated item to be slightly tilted towards the driver for ease of operation. (It’s worth mentioning that we noticed a few minor scratches on the screen, and it’s best to keep a cloth nearby to wipe off fingerprint marks.)

The touch-enabled item incorporates Ford’s SYNC 4A software. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are activated wirelessly or by cable (a traditional USB and USB-C port are present). Wireless smartphone charging is standard, as are a 12 V power outlet and 400-watt inverter.

A crisp-sounding Bang & Olufson sound system relays tunes over 12 speakers. Dual-zone(front compartment) and single-zone climate (for passengers seated on the spacious second row) are included. Ambient lighting and the panoramic sunroof add ambience to the otherwise dark leather-trimmed cabin.

Fore and aft headroom were sufficient, as was rear (middle-bench) legroom. The duo of rearmost pews are set to their upright position and stowed away electrically.

We averaged a fuel consumption figure of around 11.0 L/100 km during the test period, where we mostly drove in urban environments. (Ford claims 8.5 L/100 km.)

The Verdict

4/5

The new Everest sits closer to the peak than its predecessors. It’s been enhanced in all aspects, making it a more premium, tech-laden and refined offering that’s as capable as ever.

For the time being, with only two models available locally, with the Sport priced at R50 000 above the top-tier Fortuner and the Platinum derivative priced at R1 000 more than the entry-level Land Cruiser Prado (the range-topping 2.8 VX-L is priced at R1 310 100), the Everest finds itself in an interesting position. And how will consumers receive its new positioning? Time (and sales) will tell.