GEORGE, Western Cape – Arriving at George Airport, we were met with a fleet of Ford Everest Sports, the latest edition to the Blue Oval brand’s local Everest line-up. Parked alongside the XLT derivative on which it is based, the Sport’s exterior is distinguished by the addition of a black “Everest” badge on the bonnet, sited above a distinct black mesh grille, and myriad trim items finished in the same hue to give the seven-seater SUV a sporty appearance. These include the mirror caps, door handles, roof rails and rear valence. “Sport” decals can be found on the bottom of the rear doors and on the tailgate. A set of 20-inch alloy wheels, finished in black, completes the look.
We loaded our travel bags into the spacious luggage compartment of our Diffused Silver Ford Everest Sport press unit. Five other exterior colour options are on offer: Frozen White, Agate Black, Moondust Silver, Sea Grey and Copper Red. Open the door via keyless entry and you’ll notice the interior has also received some Sport-specific updates. Generously equipped as standard, the Sport’s leather-trimmed cabin is set apart from the XLT’s by blue contrast stitching for the multifunction steering wheel, facia and seats. The most notable item, however, is the “Sport” namesake embossed on the front pews’ backrests.
Dialling in your preferred driving position is a cinch thanks to the eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s pew. The view from the driver’s chair is commanding. Apple CarPlay activated (done by plugging in your smartphone to one of the two USB ports sited up front), we set off, listening to our favourite tunes. First stop, Oudtshoorn, where we’ll be staying in a quaint quest lodge. In addition to screen mirroring, Ford’s Sync3 infotainment software includes Bluetooth connectivity and satellite navigation.
En route to Oudtshoorn, the bakkie-based SUV fared well on the open road. It was a comfortable drive. Powered by the same 2,0-litre turbocharged oil-burner you’ll find sited behind the horizontal slats of the XLT-badged derivative’s chrome-finished grille. The diesel unit is endowed with 132 kW and 420 N.m of torque. Power is available from 3 500 r/min. The full complement of torque, meanwhile, is on offer from a lowly 1 750 r/min to 2 500 r/min in the rev range. The engine offers an ample amount of punch.
We activated cruise control and enjoyed the drive towards our destination. With large being so prevalent on our roads, overtaking was sometimes required along the way. With 340 N.m available as soon as the digital tachometer needle – displayed on the screen sited to the right of the legible analogue speedometer – edges the 1 250 r/min marker, overtaking seemed a cinch. The 10-speed automatic transmission did, however, at times seem undecided as to which gear to engage.
The following morning, we set off back to George, making our way via the picturesque Swartberg Pass. Thanks to the Everest Sport’s permanent four-wheel-drive setup, there was no need to, as found in other bakkie-based SUVs, engage high range. You do, however, have the option of selecting between various off-road modes via the terrain management system, operated via a centre console-mounted dial. The off-road driving modes include snow, mud, grass, rocks and, as soon as you arrive to a stretch of tarmac, paved roads. Hill-descent control is included, too.
The Ford Everest Sport adapted to the driving situation with aplomb and felt composed as we traversed the 23,8 km twisting mountain road to its summit. The tall seating positions of both front pews affords the driver and front passenger a clear view of the road ahead and the surrounding scenery. Though, on this stretch of road, with its loose gravel surfaces and bends, it’s best the driver keeps their eyes firmly on the road ahead and speed at a steady pace. The steering was light yet not devoid of feedback.
Safely arriving at George Airport, we parked – made easy thanks to the reverse-view camera and parking sensors – our Everest Sport press car and pressed the engine start/stop button. The Everest Sport is comfortable to drive on- and off-road, generously equipped with convenience items as standard and the addition of Sport-specific exterior trim gives Ford’s large SUV a more purposeful look. It was a joy of a journey.
Be sure to grab a copy of the July 2021 issue of CAR for a comprehensive road test on the Ford Everest Sport 2,0SiT 4WD.