By M. O’Neil
- Retains familiar refinement and easy-driving character;
- Cosseting and comfortable ride;
- Functional 7 seats;
- Spacious and flexible cabin;
- Light steering and easy to drive;
- Great ride height and outward visibility; and
- Very capable off-roader.
- Still too expensive, considering the well-known competition in the market;
- No reach-adjustable steering;
- Engine lag on start-up and low speeds; and
- Still needs a key to start in 2017.
So it was birthday last month, and out of all the great gifts I got or things I managed to do, nothing compares to the ‘gift’ I got that week. So my friends down at CMC and Hill & Knowlton decided to catch me unawares and surprise me with an opportunity to test drive the new Ford Everest Titanium for the weekend! Now I’ve test driven cars before but I wasn’t ready for what the Everest had in store.
I recently learnt of a new term when reading up about financial services and all: ‘Bracket creep’. It’s a term used by finance types to signify the often unintentional shift from one tax bracket to another. In the context of cars, the meaning is quite similar; especially when I talk about the Ford Everest Titanium, which drove and felt at par with any European SUV out there.
For years we have seen mainstream brands pushing ever more premium offerings, which in turn attract more premium pricing. Once thoroughly blue-collar brands; like Ford, creeping into more white-collar territory, where the peak of the ‘everyday’ matches price with the base of prestige.
Due to our high taxation on imported vehicles in Kenya, the base Everest (2.2L XLS) retails at a staggering Kshs. 5,995,000 (inclusive of VAT) and our range-topping test car (3.2L LTD Titanium) retails at a whopping Kshs. 8,795,000!
Now many of you if not all, might say that these figures are high, obscene or even vulgar and I probably agree with you; considering you can get a 2010 – 2012 German or British SUV and saloon for that kind of money. No wonder 80% of the cars on Kenyan roads are used imports.
But what most of you might not know is that that final retail price assures you of two things. Firstly, no one else has driven your car and it is in mint condition unlike second hand vehicles at the same price point (premium or not). Secondly, that final retail price is inclusive of 3 to 5 year warranties and service on your vehicle. This simply means that you won’t have to pay for service until you get bored of your car, if you ever will, or want to trade-up to a newer model.
It’s evident that the Titanium wants to break that ceiling and punch in the same class as the Toyota Prado or Land Rover Discovery. Probably the most thought provoking thing is that the entry-level Land Rover Discovery comes in at about Kshs. 500K less than the Ford.
The Everest looks just different enough from its Ford Ranger cousin that you forget the double-cabin pick-up forms the engineering basis of the SUV. The LED daytime running lights and tail lamps here are standard equipment; and believe me you’ll turn a couple of heads considering how good this car looks. One instance of this on my 3-day test run had me encounter a gentleman driving a 2011 Mercedes Benz E-Class Coupe, and who couldn’t help but stare at the Everest Titanium in Traffic and even signal his passenger to look at it as well in traffic. Guess he saw what Ford’s been talking about.
The Everest, hides its size well, and is actually 63mm longer than a Land Rover Discovery. It’s a modern looking vehicle, and feels very much part of the global Ford truck family, thanks to the giant chrome grille up front.
The higher bonnet line, tapered treatment of the side windows and standard 20-inch wheels create the illusion of a more compact and stocky, yet tough car. Its’ sheer size didn’t scare me at all, but rather made me feel like I was on top of the world.
The ride height is great as the seats are well positioned high up and this gives the driver great outward visibility at all times and from all angles. A panoramic sunroof that stretches all the way to the second row is standard on the Everest Titanium, as are the side steps. I definitely enjoyed bathing my passengers in sunlight and having one of them take a selfie and caption it “#sunkissed”.
FEATURES & EQUIPMENT
As is becoming apparent already, the Everest comes fully loaded for its borderline Kshs. 9 million price tag. Electric leather seats, great sound system, panoramic sunroof, and adaptive cruise control are all standard items.
True Red and Cool White exterior paint comes inclusive in the pricing; with the only options being prestige paints (a choice of six other colours are available at a price) and a tow pack. My test car came in True Red, which absolutely suits it.
It’s not perfect though, I’m not sure too many other borderline Kshs. 9 million cars can claim to require a key to start; while even used 2009 Toyota Vitz have push to start as standard.
Being the top-specification of a cheaper car as opposed to the lower-specification of a more expensive one is never more telling than on the inside.
While the Everest has lots of fun buttons, the materials and finish betray its more conservative origins. The embossed panel above the glovebox in particular has a very hollow sounding knock to it.
The feel of the leather on the seats is great but they can feel firm at times, and at this price point, ‘real’ bucket seats would make more sense. There is good storage and the eight-inch touchscreen is great to work with.
Rear passenger space is excellent, and the inclusion of air-conditioning controls in the second row, as well as a 230-volt power socket, is supremely convenient. The second row is split 60:40 but the larger division is curb-side, making it less than ideal for passengers to climb into the third row.
While the seats stow and open at the touch of a button, the third row space is strictly for smaller passengers, but we actually managed to fit my friend in there and he was fairly comfortable; admittedly he’s not the tallest chap around. There are cup holders back there as well and outward vision is still good thanks to big windows and despite the tapering roofline.
Under the powered tailgate, the Everest has a 450-litre boot with the third row erect, or 1050-litres with it stowed. For convenience in shopping carparks, the tailgate doesn’t open to an extreme height – but watch your head if you are over six-foot (like I am) as you will need to duck to fit under it.
Yes the Everest is well equipped and very functional, but its working-class Ranger heritage is still noticeable. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Hauling around 2,495kg is no easy task, so the Everest comes standard with plenty of diesel power under the bonnet. The Ford runs a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that produces 143kW of power and 470Nm of torque. A six-speed automatic gearbox drives all four wheels in the Everest Titanium.
Ford claim 8.5 litres per 100km consumption and while I saw higher than that on my test drive, the car regularly sat below 6.5 litres per 100km on a highway cruise; which is lower than claimed. At the conclusion of my full test, the Ford recorded about 9L/100km, which isn’t too bad.
Although I wasn’t able to perform any towing tests, the Everest is rated highly at having a 3000kg towing capacity. This should come handy for those who own horses and play polo or have kids who do motocross.
However so, there’s a bit of a problem which I noticed immediately I set off from the CMC showroom. There’s a considerable amount of lag from the engine at start-up and stationary starts, that was too evident to ignore. The vehicle gets going pretty quick but just sounds laboured and sluggish while doing it; as if it was being forced to move. When you hit about 2000rpm the engine is strong to respond and pulls away like a race horse. And while the engine offers decent response at speed it is pretty noisy at idle, for those outside; as cabin noise is limited.
I wasn’t able to really go off-road as I had the car for just 3 days; 2 of which were working days and the other the day I had to return it. Truth be told this car will spend most of its time on the tarmac of urban streets, but what I know is that the Ford Everest begins to shine where the road ends.
Unexpected obstacles inevitably feature in any exciting off-road adventure, and that’s why the Everest is built to wade deeper than any SUV in its class; up to 800mm. combine this with an impressive 225mm ground clearance and you’ll stay on top of things.
For those who get that urge for off-roading, the big Ford comes with a selectable Terrain Management System (TMS), allowing you to essentially tell the car what surface you are driving on and let it figure out the rest.
Moreover, the Everest has a five-link coil spring rear suspension setup with a (manually) lockable rear differential. With technologies like this and the Active Transfer Case, you can enjoy ultimate grip and traction as well as full engine torque on both rear wheels; even if one wheel is off the ground.
When descending a difficult slope or ridge, you can easily activate the Everest’s Hill Descent Control system that automatically brakes the vehicle to take you downhill at a controlled and steady pace. This lets you concentrate on placing the vehicle exactly where you want it.
ON THE TARMAC
On the road, where the Everest will undoubtedly spend most of its life, the Ford holds its own and really impressed me. The Everest exhibited a talent for disguising the surface – with the ride feeling much the same on gravel or marram as it did on tarmac. This type of stable and predictable handling is a must for this car and a must have for driving in Africa; Kenya not being an exception.
The handling and stability on the open road was pure driving pleasure. Unlike rigid systems; that you get a lot from a number of SUVs and pickups, the Eeverest’s superior Watt’s Linkage Suspension delivers superior stability and handling, as well as maximum comfort. I felt like I was driving on European roads; knowing full well the state of Kenyan roads.
Furthermore, the Everest had exceptional control in the corners and curves. This was due to Curve Control technology which is designed to maximise security on winding roads, by monitoring and reducing your speed should you enter a corner too quickly. Coupled with Advanced Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Roll Stability Control systems, the Everest inspired confidence in me on the open road. It had me feeling like I could drive to Mombasa in 4 hours like the upcoming SGR passenger trains.
Around town, the electrically assisted steering of the Ford makes it a tremendously light car to drive around. At no point did I feel like I was struggling to drive the mammoth of a car. The steering wasn’t to light but was very receptive at all speeds; high or low.
Drawing on lessons learned from the excellent ride of the Ranger, and the mixed-message desire of many drivers wanting truck-like height with car-like handling, the Everest is a very liveable and loveable car in the city. And best believe it I was already in love 30 minutes in.
A three year, 100,000km warranty and service is standard on the Everest. CMC Motors offers free service for this period of time; which can be extended upon request. These are some of the advantages of buying a showroom vehicle.
Ford has shown that they mean business and the Everest has certainly held its own when all things are considered. The American conglomerate is changing their market positioning and creeping closer and closer to becoming a proposition to the premium brands.
The lines continue to blur in this segment, but value and convenience goes to Ford for what they are trying to do with the Everest.
- Performance & Economy: 8
- Cabin Space & Comfort: 8
- Technology & Connectivity: 9
- Price & Features: 8
- Ride & Handling: 9
- CMC Motors is the official and sole distributor of all new Ford vehicles in Kenya. They are located along Lusaka Road.
- The company offers after sales service as well as comprehensive warranties for all their vehicles. Check out their official website or visit their showroom for more information.