Ford’s Ranger might be posting impressive sales figures lately (1435 Rangers sold in September), but the Everest isn’t faring quite as well. Ford sold 122 Everest units in September, but that figure was eclipsed by the 821 Fortuners Toyota sold in the same month. General Motors managed to sell 283 Trailblazers in September.
In fact, the only bakkie-based SUV that Ford regularly manages to outsell is the Pajero Sport, and this is due to the fact that no 4×2 model of the Pajero existed until now. So there is a good chance that Ford will slip into fourth place in the very near future.
The fact of the matter is, the Everest is not only starting to seriously show its age, but it has been hampered by certain design choices right from the start. Firstly, it doesn’t have a rear diff lock – something that all other bakkie-based SUVs have. Instead, it is fitted with a limited-slip differential, which helps when dealing with an off-road obstacle, but simply isn’t as good as a proper locking differential.
Secondly, the Everest is the only SUV in its class with leaf springs at the rear. This means that the vehicle has quite a harsh, bakkie-like ride, and can be fairly skittish on ugly dirt roads. Add to this the fact that it doesn’t have stability control, and driving at speed on gravel in 2WD can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Lastly, the Everest’s styling has always been, well, controversial, with some finding its boxy ’90s look downright ugly.
What has Ford done to update it with this facelift? Not much. The interior has darker finishes than before, and the front has been given a new grille.
With the Chevrolet Trailblazer joining the market, and the Fortuner and Pajero Sport receiving upgrades (the Fortuner now has a darker, more pleasant interior and the Pajero has a new 2,5-litre oilburner), can the Everest still compete at all?
Well, the Ford’s pricing remains very competitive, and its three-litre TDCi oilburner is still a nice engine. On paper, the powerplant doesn’t seem that powerful (115 kW and 380 Nm), but it actually feels quite gutsy on the road. The only thing that hampered it on our test unit was the five-speed auto ’box. While not terrible, a manual shifter would be a better option.
The Everest certainly isn’t unpleasant to drive. Some body-roll is present, and the brakes feel a tad soft, but this isn’t a vehicle that’s supposed to be driven briskly. On the open road, it provides a relaxed drive.
Another good feature of the Everest is its third-row accommodation. With a bench seat at the back, a couple of adults can actually sit pretty comfortably in the rear. The downside, though, is that the bench seat takes up significant amount of space when stored.
The Everest is a decent all-round SUV, but it continues to face an uphill battle. The Pajero Sport offers better value for money, while the ever-popular Fortuner will continue to entice buyers with promises of excellent resale value. The all-new Everest needs to arrive sooner, rather than later.
- – Well priced
- – Spacious interior
- – Cabin starting to look very dated
- – No rear diff lock
BY THE NUMBERS
PRICE: R450 800
ENGINE: Three-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
POWER/TORQUE 115 kW/380 Nm
GEARBOX: Five-speed auto
DRIVE SYSTEM: Part-time 4×4
ECONOMY: 10 – 11 litres/100km
FUEL TANK: 71 litres