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OFF-ROAD TEST

Ford Everest Limited 3.2L AT 4WD





13 February 2017


Of Mountains and Men
The Ford Everest looks showy and hip, sure, but it’s been designed to tackle any mountain. This is a very proper 4×4.

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TOUGH GUY
Reinhold Messner
Claim to fame: The first mountaineer to climb Mount Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. The first climber to climb all 14 of the world’s highest peaks. Lost seven of his toes and a few of his fingertips to frostbite, but didn’t give up climbing.
Great quote: “I didn’t go up there to die. I went up there to live.”

It takes guts to call your SUV the Everest – the world’s most iconic mountain. It is more than a mountain, actually, it is a place where dreams are born… and where they go to die.

“British mountaineer George Mallory said he climbed Everest because it was there. I think we go up so we can come back down again,” Reinhold Messner once wrote. “This coming down is a very strong experience. You come back from an inhuman place. We are not made for it, this loneliness and cold. When you come back you feel reborn, you have a new chance. The experience is so strong you want to have it again and again, but you have to suffer for it. It’s addictive.”

Climbing Everest is all about suffering. It’s hard. Very, very hard. “Climbing Everest solo without bottled oxygen in 1980 was the hardest thing I’ve done. I was alone up there, completely alone. I fell down a crevasse at night and almost gave up. Only because I had this fantasy – because for two years I had been pregnant with this fantasy of soloing Everest – was I able to continue,” Messner said about climbing the mountain without supplemental oxygen.

So, yes, by calling your SUV the Everest you’re creating some expectations. Thankfully, though, Ford has designed the Everest to be able to tackle some very tough terrain. The vehicle is nothing if not capable.

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Let’s start with the basics. In top spec, the Ford boasts a 3.2-litre oilburner that develops a very healthy 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque, and which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. (The Everest is also available with a 2.2-litre diesel engine that offers 118kW and 385Nm).

All this power and torque is obviously very useful on tar, but find yourself in a 4×4 situation and you really start to appreciate the Everest’s performance. If you want to climb a mountain, you really need a good dollop of power and a heap of torque.

Of course, you also need a 4×4 system. The Everest has a permanent 4WD system, as well as low range gearing and a lockable rear differential. But it doesn’t end there. The latest version of Ford’s SUV also boasts a nifty new piece of tech called a Terrain Management System, which allows you to effortlessly optimise the vehicle’s systems for optimum traction and stability. There’s one setting for rock, one for sand, and one for mud.

The Everest has a ground clearance of 225mm, and a very impressive wading depth of 800mm. Approach and departure angles are 29 and 25 degrees respectively.

When heading up a mountain, you can make use of Launch Hill Assist. For heading back down, there’s Hill Descent Control. On an incline, Hill Launch Assist removes the fear of rolling. Take your foot off the brake and the system holds the brake for a few seconds, giving you time to accelerate away. Hill Descent Control uses the brake system to take you downhill at a safe and steady pace. Take hold of the steering wheel and the Everest takes care of the rest.

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The Everest has come a long way since its previous iteration. What was once a rather old-school and outgunned SUV is now an excellent 4×4 that can compete with any vehicle in its class. It is very capable off road, but it is also an excellent all-rounder that is spacious, comfortable and provides every nice-to-have you could ask for, including third-row seating, Ford’s SYNC 2 infotainment system, a power tailgate, panoramic roof and active noise cancellation. Safety features include Roll Stability Control, ESP, Active Park Assist, Curve Control and Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert.

If you’re like most people, you’re never going to try and actually climb a mountain in your Everest. You’ll probably use it mostly to commute to work and visit the mall. But it’s still nice to know that could if you wanted to. When the mountains call, you want to be able to answer.

Ford Everest Limited 3.2L AT 4WD
Engine:
3.2-Litre Turbodiesel
Power: 147kw
Torque: 475nm
Transmission: Six-Speed Auto
4WD System: Permanent 4wd With Terrain Management System
Traction Aids: Rear Diff Lock, Traction Control
Ground Clearance: 225mm
Price: R698 900

Illustration: Tauriq Loofer
Photos: Jannie Herbst and Deon van der Walt