Ford Everest range expanded

Additional models in the Ford Everest range make this highly impressive SUV a serious option for many more buyers. Gavin Foster reports.

Ford Everest range expanded
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Two months ago, in my review of the new Ford Everest SUV, I wrote that sales compared poorly with those of Toyota’s Fortuner because there were eight models of the latter, whereas Ford sold only two Everest derivatives in South Africa, both high-spec 3.2 litre turbodiesel 4x4s.

At that stage, the entry-level Fortuner model cost R200 000 less than the cheapest Everest.

Ford has now expanded the Everest range to eight derivatives in three specification levels, with two turbodiesel engines, in 4×2 or 4×4, and manual or automatic transmissions. The price range – R454 000 to R699 000 – brings the Everest straight into Fortuner territory.

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Based on ranger
Both the Everest and Fortuner are built in South Africa, using the engines and underpinnings of the two companies’ bakkies: the Ranger and Hilux. The latter has for 30 years been the top-selling pickup in the country, but Ford’s Ranger has become a serious competitor.

In October and November, it was the best-selling bakkie and the best-selling vehicle, with 2 964 and 3 680 sales respectively, while the all-new Hilux trailed with 2 781 and 2 492. With the addition of its more affordable models, the Everest is likely to make a fair dent in Fortuner sales.

The Everest is a full seven-seater, and the specification level is high in the more affordable models and class-leading in the top ones.

Apart from the usual airbags, ABS, electric windows and quality entertainment systems, the models all come with cruise control, rear parking sensors with cameras, electronic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist and trailer sway control. The seats can be folded flat to create a huge cargo area.

The two higher-spec models also offer the Ford MyKey system that allows individual keys to be programmed to limit top speed and sound system volume, amongst other features.

The flagship 3.2 litre Limited version has electrically foldable third-row seats, electronic tailgate, adaptive cruise control with a heads-up display, hands-free parking, blind-spot information, tyre pressure monitoring and cross-traffic alert system.

The new engine in the more affordable Everest models, the Duratorq 2.2 litre turbodiesel TDCi unit as used in the Ranger, is a gem.

Its 118kW at 3 700r/ min and 385Nm at 1 500r/ min to 2 500r/min compare well with the Toyota 2.4 litre turbodiesel’s 110kW at 4 100r/min and 400Nm of torque between 1 600r/ min and 2 000r/min, and it is exceptionally smooth and quiet.

Capable off-roader
Ride quality is extremely good for any serious SUV, let alone one based on a bakkie. The 4×4 versions rely on Ford’s Terrain Management System that allows the driver to select from four driving modes on a rotary dial to suit the circumstances.

At the launch, we drove the 2,2- litre around a 4×4 route and its clearance and approach and departure angles allowed it to tackle obstacles with aplomb.

The Ford Everest is a highly capable vehicle. The three trim levels and choice of engines now make it far more affordable.

It comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty, a five-year 100 000km service plan, three-year unlimited-distance roadside assistance and a five-year corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 20 000km, and the 4×4 models include free off-road training.