REVIEW | 2021 Ford Everest Sport is a do-it-all companion
Johannesburg drivers have a reputation for being quite belligerent. You can ire your fellow road users just by driving at the prescribed speed limit.
Watch as the person behind you pulls out abruptly into the next lane to overtake you – who is doing a responsible 60km/h an hour - only to meet up again at the traffic lights. Not long ago, a chap hooted and pulled the zap at me because he thought I yielded too long at an especially busy intersection.
Our roads would most certainly be safer if impatience and general idiocy of that nature were quelled. But that is a column for another day. The malevolence of fellow road users is a bit less stressful from behind the wheel of a sizable sport-utility vehicle (SUV).
I was reminded of this within a few kilometres at the helm of the Ford Everest Sport, having just hopped out of my own car, a discreet sedan with a modest 1.4-litre engine.
The blue oval SUV is a beefy thing with an assertive presence. It has always been a handsome vehicle, even before its 2019 refresh. The Sport treatment throws in a black-painted mesh grille, Everest lettering across the bonnet (all in upper-case of course), more black paint for the lower valences of the bumpers and 20-inch wheels painted in – well, you can guess.
Inside, occupants benefit from leather upholstery with blue stitching, while those at the front can admire a leather-clad dashboard, which feels expectedly good if you are the kind of buyer who runs your hand over interior surfaces.
I made use of the Android Auto function, part of the SYNC3 infotainment system, which also supports Apple Car Play. It had a tendency to lag in certain instances, but features like the reading of WhatsApp messages proved handy.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged-diesel unit sounds a tad gruff, but delivers the goods on the momentum front with 132kW and 420Nm. You can have the Everest Sport in 4x2 or 4x4 guise, with the 10-speed automatic as the default transmission choice.
It works superbly left to its own devices, maximising the torque-richness of that motor. Consumption over a week with our 4x4 test unit was 10.1/100km, which is fair given its weight and dimensions.
The familiar Terrain Management System (TMS) with its rotary dial and pictograms, plus hill descent control, makes off-road driving a cinch even for those of novice competency. A 225mm ground clearance makes for confident trekking in most treachery, while the 800mm wading depth allows for fording in the most literal sense.
At the national launch of the model earlier this year, we tackled Swartberg Pass in the Western Cape, slippery after rain, making the elevations and drops even more daunting. The Everest conquered the layout without incident and we were happy to leave the promise of seven airbags untested.
What larger families will test, however, is the third row of seating. For passengers back there, shoulder room end-to-end is 1,303mm and legroom is 797mm. That compares to shoulder room of 1,432mm and legroom of 939mm for the second row. So the shorter members of the clan will obviously be relegated there without argument, leaving cargo space of 249l behind them. But if they stay at home, boot space with the third row folded is 876l.
Pricing for the Sport line ranges between R675,600 (4x2) and R718,000 (4x4). Worth remembering that, if you are willing to forego the exterior pizzazz and some interior luxuries, the basic 2.2 TDCi XLS (with two-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic) costs R563,600. A relative bargain.
The Everest has always been the category top pick, mainly for its car-like level of polish and refinement to which peers such as the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu MU-X aspire.