Ford Endeavour - First Drive Review
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Ever since Ford launched the Endeavour in the Indian market a decade back, it was the ‘car’ to have to announce your arrival in the meanest way possible. That is till the Fortuner took away its crown of being the best-selling premium SUV from 2008 onwards. Since then, at an average of 1000 units per month, the Fortuner has ruled the Rs 25-35 lakh market in India. That said, the all-new Endeavour looks all set to regain its lost territory – we drove it in Thailand and here’s our initial impression about Ford’s latest SUV for India. It is called the Everest in international markets but for India, it will continue to be sold with the Endeavour name plate.
How does it look?
They call it the ‘all-new Endeavour’ for a reason. Apart from the Ford logo, there is nothing similar to the outgoing version. SUV lovers will not stop admiring the way this new version looks – big, muscular and chunky, that’s the way a full-sized SUV should look like. The massive typical Ford grille that’s dipped in tons of chrome catches your eye and so does the over-grown silver skid plate and that raised bonnet. Everything about the new Endeavour is massive. Move to the side and the 20-inch alloy wheels are one of the best across all kinds of SUVs that are currently on sale in India. The flared wheel arches look nice and you clearly notice the raised suspension that also ends up giving the Endeavour truck like ground clearance of 225mm. At the back, things are a bit subtle. Unlike the older version, the spare wheel is not tailgate mounted but neatly packed under the boot. Like the front, you get a raised skid plate, lots of chrome on the horizontal strip that has ‘Everest’ embossing and small (w.r.t to the front headlamps) 2-piece tail lamps. There is a bigger than average spoiler as well. The side profile of the rear section of the Endeavour does look a lot like the, well, Porsche Cayenne and we weren’t the only ones who thought so.
In all, the new Endeavour has grown into a modern butch looking SUV and will go down well with those looking at a brawny full-sized SUV, one that turn more heads than any other SUV under the Rs 30 lakh mark.
How does it feel on the inside?
Step inside and the new Endeavour continues to impress you. The cabin is all-new and Ford has increased passenger space and comfort by a big margin. The front seats are generous and along with power adjustment can fit all types of adults easily. This SUV is ergonomically designed and is very practical when it comes to storage spaces. Everything falls into hands easily and the big touch screen takes centre stage here. What is unique is the LCD display in the speedometer console that displays a wealth of information. Spend a few minutes and you can toggle between fuel economy, speed, average speed, vehicle angle and inclination, tachometer, vehicle settings etc. It is an intuitive instrument panel and looks quite funky. The steering is a tad on larger side but feels good – has a lot of buttons to keep your fingers busy.
The current Endeavour has often been criticized for lack of features but this one will keep customers quite happy. The touch screen infotainment system is a bit slow to respond to your touch but everything else is perfect. It gets a sub-woofer too and sounds great. And then you get a 2-zone climate control system, multiple power outlets, electric tail gate release, park assist, a massive sunroof (might not come to India!) and so on.
Space in the 2nd and 3rd rows has really been improved. In the 2nd row, you still sit a bit low with your knees slightly raised but it’s a huge improvement over the outgoing version. Air-con vents are placed in the roof, the seats can be reclined and you have good visibility of what’s happening around on the road. The second row seats can also be pushed forward (they are on rails) to make way for more space at the back. The 3rd row seats are still not recommended for full sized adults but as is the case with most 7-seater SUVs, this one feels perfect for kids and smaller adults. Worthy of a mention is that the last row seats can be folded down with the touch of a button! The same goes for the tail gate as well.
Overall, the interiors of the new Endeavour impress you well with the design, quality and list of features. Some of the features however might not make it to India – for example the lane departure warning and so on.
The heart of the matter!
The new Endeavour gets a set of two new engines. We drove both the 2.2-litre four-cylinder TDCi unit as well as the 3.2-litre TDCi torque monster. The former is being pushed as a very efficient unit and Ford claims it might end up offering best in class fuel economy. For us, this 6-speed A/T 2.2 returned an easy 13kmpl while driving back to our hotel through a 2-lane highway with speeds ranging between 70-100km/h. For numbers, on the same stretch, the 3.2 was returning about 10kmpl.
At a rated 160PS of power and 385Nm of torque, the 2.2 seems impressive on paper. In real terms, it drives well too. NVH levels are impressive and if you are sitting in the 2nd row, diesel clatter will hardly reach your ears until unless there are serious throttle inputs by the driver. The Endeavour picks up speeds cleanly and while there is no gush of torque as such, this motor goes about doing its duties very well.
The bigger 3.2 unit has been generating a lot of interest and why not. The power figure is impressive (200PS) but what catches your fancy is the torque. At a rated 470 Nm, the 3.2 Endeavour has 23% more torque than the current 3.0 version. Again, like the 2.2, we drove the 6-speed A/T version and the abundance of torque is evident from the word GO! We drove on narrow country roads as well as flowing 2-lane hilly roads and this unit left a positive impression. You don’t really get pushed back into your seat when you go down hard on the accelerator pedal – what you get instead is locomotive like torque flow. There is ample power too when you need to accelerate away from a red light or overtake traffic. Like the 2.2, this one feels refined and quite on the inside. Unfortunately, the 6-speed A/T doesn’t seem as enthusiastic as the engine and is a bit laid back in nature. The transmission has a ‘Sport’ mode and you can shift manually too but it takes a while before you get used to the gear shifts. We feel India will get both the engines with both 6-speed manual and 6-speed A/T transmission but Ford will end up offering 4x4 only with the 3.2-litre A/T.
On-road and off the road
The Endeavour is a proper SUV. It’s still a heavy car and you can feel all the weight while driving in slow moving traffic. At speeds under 20-30km/h, it wallows a bit and the suspension feels soft. This is not a bad thing as such and you are always aware that you are behind the wheel of a big vehicle. As speeds increase though, the Endeavour seems to shed its weight and starts becoming agile (for a SUV). The all-new electric steering is a great unit for city use and weighs up nicely at higher speeds. There is a bit of body roll but attack a long flowing corner at good speeds and you will be surprised. There is a level of confidence that is currently missing in other SUVs in the segment and this along with a whole lot of tech backing you up means you can drive the Endy in an enthusiastic manner.
We love the suspension set-up on this SUV. It’s comfortable for most of the conditions with only those sharp undulations making their presence felt inside the cabin. Off the road, the new Endeavour is a wild animal, ready to conquer whatever you throw at it. Unfortunately, the route that Ford picked for us didn’t’ do justice to the Endeavour’s capability with just a couple of water crossings and a bit of mild off-roading stretches.
The new Endeavour gets a Range Rover like Terrain Management System and will be a unique first in segment feature. It gets modes like Snow/Mud/Grass, Sand and Rock and these are claimed to change the way engine, gearbox and electronics work together to get you out of a sticky situation. There is ample ground clearance, electronic locking rear differential and a low ratio transfer box to make this one of the most capable SUVs in India. Further, the new Endeavour also gets as much as 800mm of water wading capacity, departure and approach angles of 25 and 21 degrees respectively and a ramp-over angle of 21 degrees. And then there is the new Watt’s linkage that allows the axle to move up and own with very little lateral movement – very beneficial both on and off the road.
Has it been worth the wait?
In a single word, yes! The Endeavour brand name has a lot of loyalists in India and for years, both customers and fans have waiting for a proper upgrade, a proper evolution. This one ticks all the right boxes and improves on every single aspect. It looks muscular, feels premium, comes with a host of features and most importantly, has the right engine options for all kind of customers. Ford will be aiming to hit the 20 lakh mark with the base 4x2 2.2-litre manual version and the fully loaded 4x4 3.2-litre A/T model will be close to Rs 25-27 lakh. At these prices, the new Endeavour is surely going to raise quite a few eyebrows and will give other upcoming SUVs quite a tough fight.