‘Built Ford Tough’ was the slogan Ford used for its pick-ups and SUVs from way back in the late ’70s, and what it implied was that they were able to stand the test of time. Perhaps 12 years is the sort of time the company had in mind, at least for India, because that’s how long the first-generation Endeavour was on sale for. Multiple facelifts, variants and new engine and gearbox options did little to keep the big Ford competitive amongst newer, better competition over the years. The gestation period for the all-new car has been unusually long, only getting the green light in 2015 and going on sale in January this year, but is it too little, too late? That’s what we aim to find out with this road test. Late it may be, but this car claims to be ready for not just this generation of SUVs, but the next as well. With a new chassis, new powertrains and a whole lot of tech, it’s meant to be better both on the road and off it, while being easier to live with too. Time to get under its skin.
The Endeavour uses a pretty modern touchscreen unit with a high-resolution display. It’s not the most responsive of systems around, but it does offer a good deal of functionality. It’ll play music from CD, USB, aux-in, SD card and your phone through Bluetooth. What’s nice about the system is that it understands voice commands with reasonable success and this makes using audio functions a hands-free affair for the driver. The screen also doubles as the display for the rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors. Sadly, satellite navigation is a paid extra.
While the original Endeavour looked at home off the road, with its upright fascia, flat-shape headlights and protruding front and rear bumpers, the later versions of the second-gen model were toned-down quite a bit in terms of design. The 2016 Endeavour, however, has made a grand comeback and certainly looks the part, even in the company of some of the more expensive European rivals.
Up front, Ford’s new design DNA is most visible in the in-your-face trapezoidal grille that firmly sets the rugged tone. Adding more to it, is the muscular hood that towers over most of the sedans, the robust-looking front bumper and the LED headlights that are relatively small for a vehicle of this size. Wrapped around the grille’s edges, the headlights look thoroughly stylish nonetheless.
When compared to its predecessor, the new Endeavour looks way better in profile, thanks to the chiselled glasshouse, the tapering D pillar and massive wheel arches which make the 18-inch alloy wheels look rather tiny from a distance. The Endeavour’s well-balanced design continues onto the rear where you will notice that Ford has ditched the tailgate-mounted spare wheel for a cleaner look. With the spare wheel underneath the chassis, the electrically-powered tailgate now opens upwards and features a thick chrome strip that joins the elegantly designed taillights. All in all, the streamlined look of this new Endeavour is way better than what the old model could ever offer. Also, what makes the new Endeavour all the more special is its ability to retain the original model’s rugged appeal across the present-day design cues.
And that enormous length translates into a lot of space inside. There’s no difference in the seating arrangements which means the Endeavour 2.2 will seat seven easily, though the third row can be a bit of a squeeze for adults. Another good news is, the 2.2 version also gets the electric operation for the tail gate, which adds to the convenience and premium feel both.
The Endeavour 2.2 comes loaded to the gills when it comes to equipment. I like the fact that Ford has not skimped out on creature comforts, just because this is a more affordable version. We drove the top of the line Titanium version, with a six-speed automatic transmission. What it misses out on as compared to the 3.2 is the terrain management system that allows you to set the SUV’s driver aids and other systems depending on the terrain you drive on. That took away my opportunity to go mud-plugging since I know the new Endeavour is extremely capable off-road.
And that list includes a whole lot of gadgetry like auto-levelling HID headlights with a jet spray for cleaning and a host of features like cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, hill launch and descent. The 2.2 also gets the same, latest generation SYNC that’s a breeze to connect to and use, and has a brilliant interface with its split screens. Full marks to Ford for not skimping on the unit. The infotainment system even comes with two USB ports and 10 speakers that offers crisp audio quality.
The dashboard feels excellent to look at and feel, thanks to its part leather finish. The highlight of the interiors though are the high fit-finish levels and premium quality of plastics. The 2.2 also gets full leather upholstery like the 3.2, which adds to the rich feel. On the whole, the Endeavour 2.2 does not feel lacking in any way, despite costing significantly lesser than the 3.2, which is a great thing for buyers not wanting to spend the extra cash.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine produces 160 PS of power at 3200 RPM and 385 Nm of peak torque at 1600-2500 RPM. It might look underpowered on paper compared to the mighty 5-cylinder 3.2-litre mill but out on the road, the story is quite different. The initial throttle response is quite sharp and the Endeavour plunges forward if you floor it. The turbo lag is very well controlled and you won’t feel a hint of it off the line but on the go you might feel a wee bit of lag while upshifting early. It pulls in a linear fashion unlike the 3.2 version that provides a sudden thrust of power in the mid-range. Nearing the redline though, the power tapers off sharply in the 2.2-litre motor, which means you need to be gentle with the throttle near the redline to get progressive acceleration. Thanks to the noise cancellation tech, the cabin feels well insulated from engine noise otherwise on the outside it is quite loud and growly.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is the conventional torque converter. With sedate driving it upshifts smoothly but while pushing hard it takes a while to downshift. On the ghats while overtaking big buses it took some time to respond but put it in the ‘S’ mode and you could feel the engine getting lively with suitable gear changes for quick overtakes. There is a manual mode too for keeping the gears under your control. The Endeavour 2.2 gathers good speed until 120 km/hr, post which the progression is a bit slow. However, you can cruise all day easily around 120-140 km/hr. We got 10.5 km/l of mixed fuel efficiency on the straight highways and sharp ghat sections.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The steering of the Ford Endeavour 2017 is very light during parking and weighs up brilliantly with increase in speed. The Endeavour is very easy to maneuver in the city, the park assist function further aids parallel parking. On the highway, the vehicle shows great composure and handles superbly, with body roll being well in control.
The ride of the Ford Endeavour 2017 is on the stiffer side, but not to the extent of being uncomfortable and does not feel like a typical ladder-frame chassis. Another thing worth mentioning is the silent cabin and we were very impressed with it. There is hardly any engine, wind or road noise intruding inside, making journeys even more comfortable. The seats too are bolstered in the right areas and are spacious.
The New Ford Endeavour 2016 lives up to the hype it has been creating for the last one year. The Endeavour not only looks good but also surpasses its competition on many counts, including drive dynamics and features. Ford has priced the Endeavour quite aggressively to win back the status it enjoyed a decade ago. With the kind of product offered, we sure hope it does reclaim its spot.
The Ford Endeavour 2.2 comes with all the safety kit offered with the 3.2, except driver knee airbag and hill descent control. Otherwise it comes with six airbags – dual front airbags, side airbags and curtain airbags. ABS with EBD is there of course, standard with electronic stability programme and traction control system. The new Ford Endeavour is being offered with 2 year/1,00,000 km warranty and 24×7 roadside assistance with optional extended warranty. Ford has had a bumpy ride in India previously with buyers’ unsatisfactory perception towards their after sales service. However, the American carmaker now promises much better service experience and has come a long way in terms of network pan India.
The ride quality in the new Endeavour is other feature that has improved significantly. There is very little body roll and though the general ride characteristic is still cushioned and pliant, straight-line stability is good and cornering confident, though not in the same league as luxury sedans. Steering with EPAS and pull-drift compensation is good, though more feedback on the wheel would be welcome.
The new Endeavour is a big, fat step forward for Ford and this new-gen model will definitely disrupt the cosy spot currently enjoyed by the Fortuner.
With the Endeavour being so loaded with features, it wont be surprising if more buyers are also likely to drift in from the entry super luxury segment as well.
FORD ENDEAVOUR PRICE IN INDIA ;
Ford Endeavour Ex Showroom Price in New Delhi ranges from 23,91,200/- (Endeavour 2.2L 4X2 AT Trend) to 29,59,000/- (Endeavour 3.2L AWD AT Titanium)