New SUV model puts its drivers in the spotlight
There’s that moment when a man is walking idly along, lost in thought, his mind far away, and then he does a double take and stops for a second, before catching himself and walking on. Then there are car guards who smilingly wave you into and out of parking bays and compliment you on the gleaming burnt-orange car you’re alighting from. The Ford Everest is that kind of car. It’s also the kind of car you’d want if you are going on holiday with family, thanks to its three rows of seating. I mostly drove around on my own and took a friend here and there, but this is a family-sized car. I was struck by how small the boot was, but that extra layer of seating in the back can be folded down for a bigger boot or more luggage space, although that would then take away from that extra passenger room.
But first things first. On entering the car, I was struck by the integrated 12-inch LCD touchscreen and proceeded to immediately link my phone via Bluetooth. I love myself a bit of gadgetry and was suitably impressed with the size of the display, although I took off immediately and learnt the finer points of the system as I drove. I loved having a message read out to me, replying to it with my voice,
and seeing it whizz off. The big display showed off my music collection in fabulous detail. And that same display was a boon when I turned to maps to find my way. And another bonus: you can access the digital car manual on the touchscreen, including how-to manuals. I could imagine riding off into the distance, listening to an audiobook or podcast on a long journey. The drive itself is special – as you would expect. Insulated from the world as you rarely are in lowered cars, the world is more a muted hum than cacophonous Johannesburg busyness. It’s ‘designed to be a sanctuary’, and I was immediately taken with that feeling. The cabin itself is tranquil, so conversation can
flow all the way from the back row. Driving in Joburg isn’t for sissies, but a car like the Everest cushions you in more ways than one. The other cushion comes in the form of the 360° camera, which makes parking this beast a simple affair, with the image of the surroundings showing on the touch screen. You can also view your vehicle status and receive ‘health alerts’ about such matters as tyre pressure and battery levels via the FordPass app. There’s also a wireless charging pad and power points with USB access for the first and second rows.
Precision and power
I had to get used to an automatic transmission again. I’ve previously driven vehicles of this type where I longed to change gears and give it a bit of power, but this one is in another class. I really like driving a manual and changing the gears, but I didn’t feel that impulse here. The power on hand is not surprising, as the Everest is available with two turbo-diesel powertrains: a 2ℓ bi-turbo four-cylinder and a 3ℓ V6. And it shows. Take-off is smooth and swift and, within minutes, you’re over the speed limit. I didn’t get to go offroad and try the four-wheel drive function unfortunately, however. When I do, it’ll be great: the next-gen Everest has six on- and off-road drive modes. The car sits high off the ground, so someone of my modest height kind of swings themselves up and then literally climbs down, sans a bit of dignity. I had to get used to that too. It’s one of the few things I dislike about this vehicle, but that’s what you get with something in this SUV class.
This is a rugged, rather masculine-looking vehicle – stronger and wider than its predecessors. It feels like it’s hugging the road, which adds to that smooth driving feel. And that, together with its fabulous technology features and cushioned drive, is the experience that will stay with me. That, and the smiling faces of the car guards as they guided this beauty into and out of parking spaces…
Text | Arja Salafranca Photography | Supplied For more information, go to ford.co.za.