A cold and wet rainy morning greeting us as we touched down at Cape Town international airport for the all new Ford Everest national launch, some said it was weather fitted for a vehicle of such nature. The previous generation Everest wasn't the best looking SUV on the market and is probably why it never dented the sales of its rivals, however Ford went back to the drawing board, took public feed back and their own research and development into producing this new one and boy does it look good!
Speaking to the head of marketing at breakfast, I said to him that the styling says it means business and for many that is a big plus, brings back the memory of the old Ford slogan "Built, Ford, Tough". Although it looked all fine and dandy on the outside, the interior had to compliment it as well, Ian Foston, the Global Chief Program Engineer echoed this sentiment at the media briefing held at the stunning Cavalli Stud & Wine Estate. A lot went into the Everest program, one that he is very proud of and the results have shown that they have a real competitor to the market.
Two versions of the vehilce will be on sale in SA, the XLT and the LTD, both of which are powered by Ford's new 3.2 V6 turbo diesel engines, pushing out 147kW and 470Nm of torque. Quite an impressive power house, then again it has to carry around a big body. The LTD is the higher spec'd of the two that comes with 20" rims, well kitted interior with chrome finishing and power folding seats. The cabin is spacious and luxurious, almost as good as the Fusion and even better with the twin moonroof offered as an optional extra.
The cars intrumental panel features two LCD screens which gives the driver various info from consumption rates, to what mode he's driving in. There is a large 8" in dash touch screen display as well with a reserve camera as standard. The LTD also comes with a self park system which could prove handy in tight parking spots as the Everest is a rather large vehicle. Another handy item would be the 230V charging point available in the rear passenger seats which can charge anything from a portable fridge to your laptop. Just don't try to plug your stove into it.
Both models are 4x4 capable, with Ford's new easy select off road system that makes 4x4 simple and easy, even for the novice. That's their ultimate aim, wanting an everyday person to be able to make a selection on the type of terrain and carry on with their journey. unfortunately we didn't get to test the system out during the launch due to a torrential downpour that forced the closure of the 4x4 off road course. When we get it on test, we will be taking it to one of the local trails to see how it copes.
Overall, it is a solid product by Ford South Africa, they say it's aimed at buyers who want an off road capable vehicle but also performs well with economical driving around the city. According to them, it has no direct competitive rival as its seen to fill the gap between the Toyota Fortuner and Prado. Bold statement by Ford SA, whether the public see it that way as well will be yet to be seen. Pricing starts off at R595 900 for the XLT and R646 900 for the LTD. That's a heafty price but with the new Fortuner coming in next year and the ever roller coaster of the exchange rate, we might see prices for that sky rocket as well.