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LEAD: Motoring: SUV of sophistication

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Ford Everest

A new breath of American muscle has come to South Africa and I am not talking about the right-hand-drive Mustang – no, I am talking about the all-new Ford Everest.

The new Everest looks like it has come directly from the land where SUVs are called trucks and everything is supersized. This then explains the new oversized and brute look of the Everest, which from almost any angle looks large with a hint of sophistication.

So let’s analyse what exactly has changed from the previous Everest. To start with, the vehicle is a lot higher not only from a ground clearance perspective but also from height of the bonnet and roofline. The new grill looks bullish to the point that it will scare most road users out of its way. The larger headlights finished in a light silver backing look smart and work well in illuminating the road. The side view looks more like a luxury SUV’s and a lot less than that of a bakkie converted into an SUV. The rear end too is reminiscent of a luxury SUV with its large tail lights and smooth lines. The smart mag wheels and tyres were also big in keeping with the look of the vehicle, ensuring proportions are not messed up. To finish off the look, the Everest comes with side steps which are not just for looks.

Opening the doors, you can feel the weight and understand that this is not just a converted van. Hopping into the car is more like jumping up onto a stair and then sliding into your seat. The test vehicle being the top of the range 3.2 diesel came standard with many creature comforts like leather, park distance front and rear, touch screen infotainment, etc. The only disappointment in this area was the lack of navigation. The front seats were comfortable and the driver can easily find the perfect driving position thanks to the electronically adjustable seats. The leather-bound steering felt good and did not pass on too much vibration from the engine and road. The rear seats were also comfy with ample leg room. The best feature for me was the third row of seats that required a simple touch of a button in the luggage section to fold or open up. This was definitely a plus as there was no need to pull and push levers while trying to accommodate the additional two passengers. Another good feature is that the seats folded flat into the floor, so no additional luggage space is used with the seats folded away.

Turn the key and the 3.2-litre diesel motor gurgles to life but surprisingly settles to a loud hum. Even though this is loud compared to modern sedans, it is quiet for this sector of vehicles. On the road, the vehicle drives well and manages decent grip even through the bends. The best part though is that thanks to its sheer size, its scares off many other drivers on the road, especially mini bus taxi drivers. So there are very few if any mini busses cutting you off. This is well and good for the daily commute. Shift the dial to off-road and things get interesting. The vehicle changes from 4×2 to 4×4 with the option of diff lock. This enables you to take on literally any surface that you would like to drive over. From sand, to rock or water, all is taken in its stride.

In conclusion, all that left to say is that the new Everest has definitely moved the bar to a new level. This is no longer a vehicle that was an afterthought but one to conquer this segment of the market. This is the perfect family outdoor vehicle that doubles as an everyday commuter. If there is a drawback, it is the price tag. This type of vehicle does not come cheap and that pushes it into the ultra-luxury SUV market but almost none in that segment is as capable off-road as the Everest.

AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ

Ford Everest
Engine:                                 3,2 ℓ  5-cylinder Turbo Diesel
Power:                                  147 kW
Torque:                                 470 Nm
0–100 km/h:                         11.6 Seconds
Fuel:                                     Average 8,2  l /100 km
CO2:                                     217 g/km
Price:                                    From R634 900