It's not often that I get excited to receive a vehicle to test, well okay there have been more than one occasion but those were for cars, this was probably the first SUV that made me feel this way. Much of it had to do with the fact that I have already driven it at the press launch late last year and loved everything about it. Well the SUV in question is as per the header, the Ford Everest, bare in mind at the launch I spent a lot of time with the range topping Limted model, the XLT which I received on test was just used for us to get back to the airport the next day and while the differences were obvious, as a whole the two are practically the same car just with a few cosmetic differences.
The guys at Ford got this one to the T, at whichever angle you look at the Everest it's hard to fault the design. It's big, it's brutish and it has that sense of character that you need in the car like this, unlike the older model which just looked weird. Much of the looks has been passed onto the Ranger but I love how Ford gave the back of the car great shape and tied the tail lights into the chrome center plate. The large front grille which can also be found in the Ford Ranger is chromed out to give it that exclusive look and the large 18" rims just completes the overall package. The car has good symmetry with the design, clean lines, bold accents and nice details. Moving onto the inside styling, everything just works and looks good, I take a look at that in detail further on in the review.
Both the XLT and Limited come fitted with the 3.2 litre , 5 cylinder inline TDCi engine which has their much talked about 6 speed Autogear box. Now with the auto gear box, you'd expect the drive to be a bit sluggish, especially seeing that the van weighs nearly two tonnes but it's quite the opposite. With the high torque of 470Nm, it's off the line in a matter of seconds with smooth changing between gears and none of that high revving grunts of it struggling to keep up. Mind you, all that power and response time comes at a cost, the consumption reflects it almost immediately. One has to see who the everyday driver of this car would be, its more than likely to be that of an office going exec, so spending most of his time driving on the freeway with the odd weekend away to the bush. This van performs well in the urban setting, it is a bit intimidating with it's size and looks but as I found out that isn't a bad thing as people just move out of your way and taxi's don't dare try to cut you off when they see you coming.
It's a big car, so there's no complaining about space, the seats are big and comfy and everything is adjustable to suit your preferred seating position. From height adjustable drivers seats to movable rear seats. The front of the cabin has dual climate control air-conditioning and the rear passengers have their own AC controls as well as a 12V power outlet should they need to recharge their cellphone or tablet. On the road, the ride is pretty smooth, with the larger tyres you do feel the bumps a bit but nothing too serious.
The Everest is loaded with loads of cool tech, most of it passed on from the Fusion but it's still cool none the less! The instrument cluster is my favourite part with just the speedometer being the standard analog type with two information screens either side of it which can be easily changed to display information you're looking for. The left hand screen displays stuff such as your audio and telephone info whilst the right hand side screen displays information on the car itself. Your trip display, fuel consumption, heat gauge and if you're going off roading, a nice gyroscope to give you the cars gradient and positioning. The car comes standard with Ford SYNC's easy to use bluetooth telephone and audio streaming and the large 7" infotainment touchscreen is extremely user friendly and displays the reverse camera and PDC sensors when reverse gear is engaged. The Limited comes with auto parking which really is something see on such a big car.
I didn't get a chance to do much off road driving with the Everest but it's more than capable to handle any terrain. With it's easy to use jog dial type selector, you just choose the type of terrain you will be encountering and the car automatically adjusts to suit. You have four options to chose from, Normal, Snow or Mud, Sand and Rock Crawl which as per everything else in the car is pretty self explanatory. It has a wading depth of 800mm should you find yourself going through streams or rivers, electronic locking rear differential which gives you extra traction on those difficult off road section and hill descent assist to make sure you don't go flying down the mountains.
While you might be thinking its a big car so storage shouldn't be an issue, if all 7 seats are being utilized it may pose a problem. It reduces the size of the boot tremendously, so maybe day trips with 7 people is advised with the rear two seats fold in to increase the size of the boot for longer journeys and you still can get 5 people comfortably in the van. The seats are pretty easy to fold and unfold, even though the XLT comes with the manual seats, it's not that difficult to do so.
Pros and Cons
There's a lot of Pros about the car as mentioned in much of my article but lets get to the cons. You paying a lot of money for this van and while I understand it is the bottom of the range, I just feel Ford could have thrown in some of these. Firstly keyless entry, I mean its 2016 now, if I'm paying over 600K for a vehicle that's the least I expect. The power folding mirrors only fold up when the car ignition is switched on, I normally do this after the car is switched off so I found myself switching it back on and then having to fold it in. There was no sunroof, not sure if it is an optional extra but if it is, nice to have one. The consumption is pretty high, I know its a big engine but perhaps they should look at an eco mode to the van. The XLT doesn't come with the nice LED day time running lights like the Limited, I feel they could have given it that, just makes it look a bit plain and guys that wap ariel needs to go, the van is high as it is and that just whacks most things in its way, to its credit it is pretty durable and flexible.Also Satnav would be nice.
Overall I am very impressed with the XLT, whilst it didn't have all the bells and whistles associated with the Limited, it still did the job and did it damn well! It looks the part and certainly feels the part too and sending the brand in the right direction for increasing their presence with the consumers. It's something people like and gets them asking questions, which sparks curiosity and then spark sales. During my time with it, I had several people ask to have a look at it and many of them are seriously considering getting one, if I had the cash it would also be on my watch list.