Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Big shoes to fill

The previous generation of the Ford Everest was one of the most popular offerings within its segment. During its tenure, it gained a massive fanbase that developed great loyalty toward the vehicle and the brand itself. Anton Willemse Jnr was one of those fans and, as such, he was eager to see if the new-generation Everest – launched in South Africa towards the end of 2022 – could fill the very big shoes left by its predecessor.

The previous generation of the Ford Everest made massive waves when people first saw it. At the time, the look was a return to form for Ford’s design team after skipping the first stint of the 3.2-litre era and leaving its brother, the Ranger, to fend for itself before making its first appearance in 2015. Between 2015 and 2022, much remained the same in the styling department for the Everest, with only minor tweaks and some special editions unique to South Africa to keep it fresh.

In Ford’s defence, though, the looks of the previous generation were fine. More than fine, actually – I always thought it was a great-looking vehicle, on par with its rivals (and even surpassing them in some regards). The only thing that ‘bugged’ me was that the previous generation didn’t feel like an American product. Sure, it sported the Blue Oval, but you always got the sense that it was intended for foreign markets like Thailand, Australia, and South Africa. However, it’s safe to say that it is not the case with this new variant.

The new Everest is an absolute stunner, turning heads wherever it goes. The first thing you notice is the main C-shaped headlights – a staple of Ford’s F-Series trucks – which give the Everest a much more aggressive and angular stance. However, the front end isn’t the only sexy angle of this vehicle – both the side profile and rear look fresh. I particularly like the rear, especially the black strip connecting the two taillights with the vehicle’s nameplate integrated into said black strip. The side profile is more angular than the previous generation, making this Everest feel more utilitarian.

The interior is where the new Everest is truly leaps and bounds ahead of some of its nearest competitors. The first thing you notice when entering the cabin is the massive 15.5-inch Tesla-style screen, a standard offering in both the Sport and Platinum variants. Another new feature is the digital instrument cluster, which I think is a bit of an overkill – but that’s because I have always preferred analogue clusters over their digital counterparts.

As for the rest of the cabin? It’s quite a delightful place to be. Even the base Sport model we sampled has everything you’d expect to have in a luxury seven-seater. The leather is soft and comfortable, with the subtle wood accents elevating the cabin to premium. The angular nature of the interior complements the exterior perfectly.

On the tech side, the Ford designers certainly did not hold back. As standard, you have a wireless charging pad, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and USB ports (including type C). Despite having the massive screen at their disposal, Ford didn’t go crazy with its integration and still gives us many buttons to fiddle with, including some buttons and knobs for climate control. I am thrilled that Ford kept it like this instead of having us shuffle through layers and layers of menus and sub-menus simply to adjust the vehicle’s temperature!

So, how’s the drive?

One of the best aspects of the previous-generation Ford Everest was its superior drive quality in terms of handling and comfort – and this next-gen carries the torch sublimely. The new Everest Sport is exceptionally comfortable, thanks to a tried and tested drivetrain and gearbox.

Like its predecessor, the Everest features Ford’s ten-speed planetary gearbox, which underwent some revision for the new model. You can feel it immediately once you drive it. In the previous generation, the gearbox tended to feel confused, especially when you had to power down at lower revs. Luckily, this was rectified with the new model, and the ten-speed feels more deliberate. The box pairs wonderfully with the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine for the Sport variant. Now as we know, this engine is proudly South African, wholly sourced from Ford’s plant in Gqeberha, alongside the all-new 3.0 V6 for the Platinum Everest and the Wildtrak Ranger.

The Sport is powered by the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo, which has been a staple of the Ford line-up for the last few years. In the previous model, I loved the Bi-Turbo. It was highly frugal, considering that it was carrying a lot of weight, and it was also very smooth and balanced, especially compared to some of its more agricultural competitors. It is important to note that the Bi-Turbo has received some updates between the previous and new generation.

One of the fundamental changes was the down-tuning of the Bi-Turbo engine. It now produces less power, with 154kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 200rpm as opposed to 157kW and 500Nm in the previous model. Do you even have to care? Well, generally not… but in this case, the snubbing of three measly kilowatts does affect the drive. It improves it. I found it new and fresh, with a more balanced and tamed behaviour. Accelerating is comfortable and predictable, making driving the Everest Sport a pleasure, especially at highway speeds. As for fuel consumption, I found it a tad thirsty. Ford claims a figure of 7.5 litres/100km, but in the real world, I averaged about 11 litres/100km in a variety of driving conditions.

The verdict

Not surprisingly, I am a fan of the new Everest. It’s a massive leap for both brand and segment, and true Ford fans should be excited to see what this new T6 plus platform offers.

It builds on what was established by its predecessors while making fundamental changes. However, nothing in life is perfect, and the Everest is no exception. Some issues are down to personal preference, such as the digital instrument cluster, which for me, at least, could be more attractive. The low-profile 20-inch wheels and highway tyres will be more than useless for off-roading. Luckily, Ford offers an optional 18-inch, and you can spec it with Goodyear all-terrains off the showroom floor.

The final gripe, for me, is the price. When Ford announced the Ranger in December last year, it almost broke the internet thanks to its aggressively low pricing and flexibility through its multiple derivatives. The Everest, however, stands in contrast with its high price and lack of variety within its line-up. Yes, you will still get an exceptional product, but it may break the bank slightly. However, if you’re an Everest fan or an owner of the previous model and you’re looking to trade in, go for it!

Model line-up & pricing

• Everest Sport 2.0L BiT 4WD 10AT: R965 400

• Everest Platinum 3.0L V6 AWD 10AT: R1 113 100

*Included in the price is a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 4-year/ unlimited km roadside assistance and a 5-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. The recommended service interval is 15000km or once a year, and customers can purchase service or maintenance plans of up to 8 years or 135 000km. The warranty can be extended up to 7 years or 200 000km, while the roadside assistance can be extended for up to 2 years.

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