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FORD EVEREST 3.0 V6 4WD WILDTRAK

Ford continues its onslaught on the premium SUV market with the release of the new Everest Wildtrak last year. We spent time with the first Wildtrak-endowed Everest to discover whether the sportier SUV lives up to the claim that it has been elevated beyond competing with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner.

In the seemingly endless battle for supremacy between market leaders Ford and Toyota, the most significant skirmishes take place on the medium SUV front, with Toyota traditionally selling many more Fortuners than its Everest opponent.

At least, that was until the introduction of Ford’s new-generation SUV, which, in most measurables that matter, has been elevated above its erstwhile rival to compete with the ageing Toyota Prado – scheduled for replacement in the first quarter of this year.

The new Everest launched to great acclaim last year, and some will argue that the muscular American-inspired styling that it inherited from the Ranger bakkie, works even better in SUV guise. The rugged squared-off look has significant road presence and is modernised by the new lighting signatures and C-shaped DRLs upfront. 

The Wildtrak version – until recently only available on the Ranger – sports a model-specific grille and front bumper, with accents and surrounds finished in bolder grey. You will also note the side steps, roof rails, Wildtrak badging, and privacy glass distinguishing the sportier SUV derivative. Other tell-tales are recovery points up front and 20” machine-finished alloys – with 18” alloys available for off-road enthusiasts who need a more robust rubber.

CABIN IMPRESSIONS

Step inside the Wildtrak, and you are treated to a similar cabin experience we gushed over when we reviewed the Platinum model. The same amenities as in the range-topping Platinum model also do duty in the Wildtrak, including electric front seats, leather upholstery with orange contrast stitching, the brilliant SYNC4A vertically oriented infotainment system with smartphone integration, and a digital instrument cluster. 

It is also worth mentioning that the Everest Wildtrak is compatible with the FordPass app that allows remote access to some vehicle functions via your smartphone. Overall, the cabin fit-and-finish is solid, feels properly premium, and is an undeniable elevation above its Fortuner and Prado rivals.

The Wildtrak is a seven-seater, though as is usually the case with these platforms, the rear row is best reserved for vertically challenged occupants. That said, the otherwise spacious cabin benefits from the Wildtrak’s standard dual panoramic sunroof, which adds natural light to the otherwise dark-coloured cabin. The luggage space is reasonable at 259 litres with all the seats up, extending to 818 litres with the third and second rows tucked away.

MAKING TRACKS WITH THE WILDTRAK

The Wildtrak is powered by a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6, which churns 184 kW and 600 Nm. A product of Ford’s Struandale plant near Gqeberha, the engine is attached to Ford’s tried and tested 10-speed automatic transmission, which delivers its significant payload to the Everest’s permanent four-wheel-drive system.

With a GVM north of three tonnes, the Wildtrak is heftier than the Toyota Prado, although concerns that its weight would impact performance were soon dispelled during our drive, as the smooth and surprisingly quiet engine offered no resistance moving the Wildtrak’s mass around. With 184 kW and 600 Nm on tap, the meaty V6 easily out-guns its rivals, making it tempting to lean into its generous torque at every opportunity. There is a reassuring effortlessness to the power delivery, which makes one look forward to every trip, be it the urban commute or lengthy highway drives.

Although the Everest is shorter (by 50 mm) than its Japanese opponent, it is 30 mm than the Prado, and it is still a mighty big vehicle to pilot (and park) in town. Tight manoeuvres are made easier through the Everest’s 360-degree birds-eye-view camera and light steering, even though its turning circle is slightly larger than the Prado. 

The Everest Wildtrak shines on the open road, however, where any reservations about low-speed manoeuvrability are soon replaced by appreciation for how composed the suspension is and how insulated the cabin feels in the near absence of wind and road noise. 

The unfortunate reality is that most modern SUVs have been relegated to little more than urban cruisers. We’re equally at fault, considering that we did not venture off-road with the Wildtrak during our test drive. Regardless, the Wildtrak is equipped with an on-demand electromechanical two-speed transfer case for you to venture beyond the tarmac, with various drive modes available (Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud & Ruts, and Sand) to effortlessly guide you on your off-road journey. 

LAST WORD

Ford came out guns blazing with the new Everest when it launched here in 2022. The Wildtrak adds a keen sense of sportiness to the range, which undoubtedly will further improve the SUV’s market share. It is an overall excellent proposition that rises above the competition despite its relatively robust R1,115,700 asking price.

FORD EVEREST WILDTRAKENGINEPOWER 
(kW @ r/min)
TORQUE 
(Nm @ r/min)
TOP SPEED
(km/h)
0-100 KM/H
(seconds)
FUEL 
(l/100 km)
PRICE
Ford Everest 3.0 V6 4WD WildtrakV6; 2,993 cc turbodiesel184 @ 3,2501750-2250N/AN/A10.9R1,115,700
Hyundai Palisade 2.2D 4WD Elite 7-seaterIn-line 4-cyl; 2,199 cc turbodiesel38001750-275019010.59.5R1,144,500
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2.8GD TXIn-line 4-cyl; 2,755 cc turbodiesel3000-34001600-2800N/AN/A2.8R1,145,500

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © FORD SOUTH AFRICA

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