Call of the wild

Towards the end of 2022 Ford introduced the next-generation Everest in two derivatives: the Sport and the Platinum. Now, the range has been expanded with the addition of a second Sport model and two XLT’s. However, for LIANA REINERS, the biggest news is the arrival of the Everest Wildtrak.

Over the years I have had numerous encounters with the Ford Everest. I attended the launch of the first model to reach local shores, way back in 2009. Then, some four years later, I drove the upgraded version. An all-new version debuted here in 2015. In the years that followed I witnessed range expansions, upgrades and new engines aplenty and then, in 2022, the Everest in its current form arrived in South Africa with a bang. Once again, I attended the launch and came away suitably impressed. The Sport was definitely my favourite… or so I thought.

Fast forward a few months and I get wowed by the Everest once again… this time by the Wildtrak model. Just to clarify, there are now six Everest models, the entry-level being the newly launched XLT 2.0L BiT 4×2 10AT. The crown jewel is, of course, the Platinum 3.0L V6 4WD 10AT. In between the two is a 4×4 version of the XLT 2.0L BiT, the Sport BiT 10AT in 4×2 and 4×4 guise, and the Wildtrak 3.0L V6 4WD 10AT.

Wild thing, you make my heart sing

The Everest Wildtrak shares the same 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine and permanent four-wheel drive system as the Platinum. It produces 184kW and 600Nm of peak torque and is mated to the latest version of Ford’s advanced 10-speed automatic transmission, which uses the innovative electronic E-Shifter.

The permanent four-wheel drive system uses an electronically controlled on-demand two-speed electromechanical transfer case (EMTC). The default driving mode for this system is 4A (Automatic) which can be used on- and offroad as it constantly adjusts the flow of drive between the front and rear axles for enhanced traction in all road conditions. Four-wheel drive high-range (4H) can be selected by simply pushing a button to improve grip and control on loose surfaces, while low-range (4L) will make light work of steep or rocky tracks and deep sand where enhanced low-speed control is required. There’s also a 2H mode which engages rear-wheel drive only.

In terms of exterior styling, the Wildtrak is set apart from its siblings by a bold front grille with horizontal bars and a tough mesh in signature Bolder Grey. This metallic accent colour is also used on the unique front bumper, providing a striking contrast to the silver finish of the front bash plate. Raised Wildtrak lettering on the leading edge of the bonnet, as well as the dark grey mirror caps and rear bumper round off the look. Two-tone 20-inch alloy wheels with 255/55 R20 tyres are standard on the Everest Wildtrak, but customers can also opt for 18-inch rims and 255/65 R18 all-terrain tyres.

Added visual appeal is provided by the bright-finish side steps, stand-off roof rails and privacy glass, while an additional (and very striking) paint colour, Luxe Yellow, is exclusively available on the Wildtrak.

The interior has a decidedly sporty feel to it, courtesy of contrasting yellow stitching on the dashboard, door trims, steering wheel, gear lever and the leather seats. A dark roof lining and a dual panel powered moon roof further enhance the ambience and feeling of spaciousness.

Comfort and convenience features include a full colour 12-inch touchscreen that operates the latest-generation SYNC 4A infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also an eight-speaker sound system, USB-A and USB-C connectivity and charging ports, a wireless charging pad and a built-in 400W/240V inverter.

The Wildtrak is equipped with a dedicated off-road SYNC screen and a rotary drive mode control that accesses six settings: Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud & Ruts, and Sand. It also features an impressive range of driver assistance technologies that include Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Lane Centering, Blind Spot Monitoring with Trailer Coverage, Cross Traffic Alert, Evasive Steer Assist, Lane Keeping System with Road Edge Detection, Pre-Collision Assist, Reverse Brake Assist and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) as standard.

The XLT in a nutshell

Also new to the range, the XLT is the least expensive model in the Everest line-up, but is still crammed with a whole bunch of comfort, convenience and safety features.

In XLT spec the Everest is available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The 4×4 model uses a part-time electronic shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system, which includes 2H, 4H and 4L modes, as well as a rear differential lock as standard. Its all-round capability is further enhanced by the six selectable drive modes which are shared with the Sport 4×4, Wildtrak and Platinum models.

Both XLT derivatives are powered by the same 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine found in the Sport. It produces 154kW of power and 500Nm of torque and is linked to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The interior also basically mimics that of the Sport. Along with the eight-inch digital instrument cluster, the XLT has a 12-inch colour touchscreen for the SYNC 4A infotainment system and SYNC off-road screen on the 4×4 model.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the wireless charging pad, are standard. The same goes for the numerous USB-A/C ports and 12v sockets for the front and third row seats and in the load compartment.

Model line-up & pricing

• Everest XLT 2.0L BiT 4×2 10AT: R832 400

• Everest XLT 2.0L BiT 4×4 10AT: R896 300

• Everest Sport 2.0L BiT 4×2 10AT: R 918 500

• Everest Sport 2.0L BiT 4×4 10AT: R 984 800

• Everest Wildtrak 3.0L V6 4WD 10AT: R1 084 000

• Everest Platinum 3.0L V6 4WD 10AT: R1 146 500

*Included as standard is a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 4-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15 000km or annually, whichever occurs first.

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