Driving impression: Ford Everest 2.2
Everest loses a litre
Ford recently launched the new (and locally produced) 2.2-litre Everest. So how does this more affordable version compare to the burly 3.2-litre derivative?
Even before climbing aboard the new 2.2-litre Ford Everest for the first time, it’s fairly easy to predict what you’ll find. After all, the Everest has been available for a while now, albeit only in higher-spec 3.2-litre guise, and the 2.2-litre oilburner’s been doing duty in the Ranger for ages. There’s nothing altogether ‘new’ here. Rather, what you find is a fresh arrangement of known quantities. That said, just because you’re familiar with the constituent parts doesn’t mean that you can necessarily predict what any amalgam would be like.
Ford’s 2.2-litre oilburner is a solid powerplant that works well in the Ranger. While boasting a capacity of only 2 198cc, it nevertheless develops a respectable 118kW of power and 385Nm of torque. In Ford’s bakkie, it doesn’t lack for oomph. With all that torque, it’s very eager, while being pretty frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. But a bakkie and an SUV are very different things. For instance, the 2.2 Everest has a tare weight of 2 240kg, 277kg more than the 2.2-litre Ranger XLS 4×4 MT. An SUV also demands a higher degree of refinement, which means engine noise and vibration need to be less. With the 3.2, Ford managed to overcome these issues, but with the 2.2, the company is forced to both work with a less powerful engine, and produce the vehicle at a lower cost. This is not an easy task.
So how does the 2.2 perform in the Everest? As with the 3.2, you’re still dealing with a bakkie-based SUV that’s ultimately a little rough around the edges. Driving it is reminiscent of driving a Ranger, especially in the manual XLS version, which fails to completely hide its LCV origins. However, NHV levels are lower than in the Ranger. Both the engine and gearbox feel more refined, and the cabin is pretty quiet and comfortable. Is it as good as a luxury SUV? Of course not, but for what it is, the 2.2 Everest performs well. It’s good enough to compete in the bakkie-based segment.
A 2.2 will do
Ford has added five 2.2-litre models to the Everest range: three lower-spec XLS models and two higher-spec XLT models. While you can have a 2.2 XLS in 4×2 or 4×4, and with either a manual or auto shifter, you can’t have a 4×4 with an auto. When it comes to 4×4, it’s manual only. You also can’t have a 2.2 XLT with 4×4. You can have either a manual or an auto, but no four-wheel drive. If you want that particular combination, you have no option but to purchase the pricey 3.2 XLT 6AT 4×4.
Many buyers will thus find themselves choosing between the manual XLS with 4×4, or the auto XLT with 4×2. Pricing on these two is similar, and your choice will depend on your need for 4×4. The XLS is more expensive and isn’t as swanky, but it has 4WD. The first vehicle we tested during the launch was the above-mentioned 2.2 XLT 6AT. As in the Ranger, the auto ‘box works well in conjunction with the 2.2-litre diesel engine. Shifts are smooth and unfussy, and there’s hardly ever any slip.
There’s no doubt that you’re dealing with a much lower-capacity engine here, but you couldn’t describe the 2.2 as underpowered. It’s very willing, but just doesn’t boast the effortless power of the 3.2. If, for instance, you’re trying to overtake a vehicle on an incline, you’re going to have to time things carefully and row through the gears more aggressively. Overall, though, you’re unlikely to be frustrated by the 2.2, unless you have plans to tow a massive boat or caravan. Then the 3.2 is the better option.
Cairo or bust!
When compared to the 2.2 XLT, the cabin of the XLS version looks a tad ordinary. It’s still well equipped, but doesn’t boast all the comfort and tech of the XLT. The XLT, for example, has Ford’s latest SYNC3 infotainment system, while the XLS must make do with the SYNC1. The XLS also doesn’t have the shiny rims of the XLT. However, what it does have is a fantastic 4×4 system. It has permanent 4WD, as well as a rear diff lock, low range and a terrain management system that adapts things like throttle response to the driving surface.
Add to this a manual transmission, 225mm of ground clearance, an engine that can deal with 500ppm diesel and smallish 17-inch rims that allow for some properly profiled rubber, and you have a great off-roader/overlander. The Everest XLS walks that perfect line between old-school 4×4 and modern SUV. It’s the kind of vehicle that you want to cross the continent in. We didn’t spend much time off-road during the launch, but the Everest still impressed. It’s got good approach and departure angles, great articulation and that engine/gearbox combination is excellent on a 4×4 trail. There’s plenty of torque to work with, and the vehicle will even climb up a slope unaided with no need to press down on the throttle. There’s also plenty of engine compression to ensure slow and controlled descents, though there’s also hill descent control, should you feel the need.
At R529 900, the Everest XLS isn’t cheap, but it is more than R100 000 cheaper than a 3.2 4×4. And for those who don’t need 4×4, the 2.2 XLT derivatives are sure to impress.
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4×2 R453 900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 4×2 R470 900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT 6MT 4×2 R478 900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4×2 R495 900
Ford Everest 2.2 TDCi XLS 6MT 4×4 R529 900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4×2 R554 900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi XLT 6AT 4×4 R634 900
Ford Everest 3.2 TDCi Limited 6AT 4×4 R698 900
Text: GG van Rooyen