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New models added as local production begins. Reuben van Niekerk reports
The Everest is set to become a more compelling choice in South Africa’s highly contested sport utility vehicle market, Ford having expanded the model range to eight derivatives following an investment of R2,5-billion in its assembly plant at Pretoria, where the vehicle is built.
In terms of the company’s forecasts, the option of three specification levels, two engine and gearbox choices and the prospect of two- or four-wheel drivetrains will meet market needs for high-value, mid-range SUVs – derivatives which tend to dominate sales in the segment.
The 2,2 XLS is available in three versions – two-wheel drive models fitted with the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, and a 4×4 equivalent with a manual shifter.
The latter derivative’s intelligent Torque on Demand drive system permanently sends power to all wheels, automatically proportioning propulsion forces between front and rear axles depending on grip levels. Further, the gearbox is fitted with an active transfer case with high and low range, while the drivetrain incorporates a rear differential lock.
All 4×4 models in the range boast Ford’s innovative Terrain Management System, an electronically operated driving aid which automatically adapts throttle responses to best suit each of four selectable driving modes – normal , mud, sand or rock. All-wheel drive models fitted with automatic transmission also benefit from optimum gear shift patterns for each of the modes.
Customers looking for an added measure of luxury and exclusivity can opt for the higher specification 2,2 in XLT guise, available in two-wheel drive form with either manual or automatic transmissions.
New to the line up is a 4×2 version of the powerful 3,2-litre model, also in XLT trim and paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The derivative is ideally suited to customers looking for the space, comfort, performance and luxury of the high-spec Everest, but who don’t require extreme off-road capability.
The two top-end models are both matched to Ford’s intelligent four-wheel drive system, automatic gearbox and impressive 3,2-litre engine, in either XLT or range-topping Limited specification.
Alloy wheels are common across the range, with 17-inch rims on the XLS, attractive 18-inch equivalents on the XLT and 20-inch versions on the Limited.
The Everest boasts a high level of standard comfort, convenience and safety features to make it one of the smartest and most advanced SUV’s on the market.
An exciting new piece of technology is Ford’s latest-generation SYNC 3 integrated communications and entertainment system, fitted as standard on all XLT and Limited models. It includes 10 speakers and two USB ports for multimedia connectivity.
Sophisticated technologies fitted as standard features include ESP with Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist and Trailer Sway Control. Safety features include dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags. A driver’s knee airbag is standard on the XLT and Limited.
All specification grades include rear parking sensors linked to a full colour rear view parking camera on the four-inch display for the XLS or the eight-inch touch screen for XLT and Limited, the latter also featuring front parking sensors.
Smart and safe driving technologies on the Limited model include Adaptive Cruise Control with a Heads Up Display, Forward Alert, Collision Mitigation and Distance Alert. Parking is made easy thanks to Active Park Assist, while the Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert informs drivers of dangers that might not be visible in rear view mirrors.
New to the Everest line-up in the engine department is the refined and extremely capable 2,2-litre four-cylinder unit, which produces maximum power of 118kW at 3 700 revs/min and 385Nm between the 1 500 and 2 500 rpm marks.
The 3,2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel remains the range topping choice, delivering 147kW and 470Nm for impressive all-round performance.