The Ford Endeavour may be the first true blue SUV of its kind to enter India but the multi-talented Toyota Fortuner provided the real impetus to what is now one of the fastest growing segments in the market. Quite a few contenders followed the venerable Japanese SUV’s path but none had managed to shake the leader. After a prolonged inactivity in the segment, Ford India is now ready with the new generation Endeavour (called Everest in international markets). The product’s objective is to take full advantage of the Indian customer’s undying love for imposing SUVs and in the process, put an end to the Fortuner’s monopoly. With the launch set on January 20th, we went out for a drive in the new SUV to check if it’s a game changer. Read on to find out.
The new Ford Endeavour is light years ahead of its predecessor in terms of styling. The majestic front fascia houses a generously proportioned signature hexagonal chrome grille, high-mounted headlamp clusters and a sporty bumper with a massive silver insert. The projector headlamps are complemented by integrated LED daytime running lights and bumper-mounted rectangular fog lamps. The menacing visual character is further enhanced by high ground clearance and flared wheel arches.
At 4,892 mm in length, the new Endeavour is a leviathan but the designers have done an excellent job of optimizing the visual mass with subtle bulges on the sheet metal, long greenhouse, chrome handle bars, the chrome embellished fender vents displaying the variant badge (2.2 6AT in our case), silver roof rails, silver accented foot boards and 18-inch five-twin-spoke alloy wheels.
The SUV ditches its ancestor’s pillar mounted vertical combination lights in favor of upmarket LED infused wraparound units that are bridged by an ‘Endeavour’ branded chrome strip. The rear bumper has a silver insert that matches the one upfront. Again, the visual bulk is very effectively masked with contours and ensembles.
A quick walkaround of the new Ford Endeavour is all it takes to realize that despite its gargantuan proportions, it doesn’t look even a wee bit awkward from any angle. The imposing premium 7-seater is full of character and we think it’s easily the best looking product in its segment.
If you’re only partially convinced by the exterior design, the interior will have you completely sold! The decidedly premium dashboard adopts a classy brown-beige color theme with shiny grey trims. The upper half of the dashboard and seats are swathed in leather. The plastic part of the dashboard (also read beige part) has a hard surface finish but certainly has a long lasting feel to it. As far as quality is concerned, it’s very difficult to find fault with the new Endeavour’s cabin.
The modern instrument console is made up of a single analog speedometer sandwiched by color TFT multi-info displays which can be configured using the steering-mounted buttons. The display on the right deals with fuel economy, tyre pressure monitoring, trip computer, digital tachometer (in S mode), etc., while the display on the left is connected to the vehicle’s SYNC touchscreen infotainment system.
Getting in and out of the SUV is quite a task but the wide foot board makes life easier for all the occupants. Coming to driver ergonomics, the new Endeavour scores very high marks like any other Ford product we have experienced. It’s worth mentioning that the control stalks are as per RHD standards. The 6-way electrically adjustable driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment) is supremely comfortable once you set it as per your preference. Due to a tall seating position, visibility is generally good but the sheer size of the vehicle generates huge blind spots which could prove tricky while negotiating urban traffic.
The middle row can seat three but the rear AC console and transmission tunnel seriously limit the third passenger’s comfort levels. The bench can be slid and the seatback can be adjusted for inclination so it’s quite easy to find a comfortable setting but the thigh support is really lacking.
Access to the third row of seats is via the folding and sliding second row seat (right side). It would require quite a bit of effort to get yourself to the last row and the amount of leg room largely depends on the position of the seats ahead. Like most 7-seaters, the occupants would have to sit with zero thigh support in a not-so-comfortable knee-up position. That said, 3rd row occupants do benefit from individual roof-mounted AC vents, cup holders and a 12V charging socket. For all practical purposes, the new Ford Endeavour can be classified as a proper 7-seater.
To sum it up, the Endeavour’s cabin offers a truly premium experience and is certainly one of the many strong points of the car.
The new Ford Endeavour for India will be available in two trims – Trend and Titanium.There isn’t much difference between the variants in terms of features save for the number of airbags (Trend gets only dual front airbags). The equipment highlights of Titanium trim includes side airbags and curtain airbags (3.2-litre variant also gets driver knee airbag), ABS with EBD, ESP, TCS, Hill launch assist, emergency assistance, Ford MyKey, hill descent control and Terrain Management System (4×4 variants only), SYNC touchscreen multimedia infotainment system with 10 speakers, Semi-auto parallel park assist and sun roof (only on 3.2-litre variant), rear parking camera, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, powered lift gate with anti pinch function and so on.
Engine and Transmission
We sampled the 2.2-litre 4×2 variant which is good for 160 PS at 3,200 rpm and 385 Nm of torque at 1,600-2,500 rpm. This engine can either be had with a 6-speed manual or a torque converter automatic transmission.
Motor idles with a muted clatter and voices out a loud roar when accelerated hard but the vibes are kept well away from the cabin. It starts lugging nicely post 2,000 rpm but the real performance lies between 2,500 – 3,500 rpm. Forcing the engine to rev beyond this point isn’t fruitful however the punchy low-end and mid-range torque delivery is all you need to get the job done.
The 6-speed automatic transmission however has some serious room for improvement. While it executes butter smooth up shifts and downshifts when the SUV is driven normally, the transmission loss is plainly apparent when you ask for sudden acceleration. The gearbox kicks down, the engine builds up revs but the progress comes only a few moments later. It almost works like a CVT! It takes that much time for the fluid coupling to connect the engine and gearbox during a down shift. At times, the engine is already out of its meaty power band when the gearbox finally starts transmitting, making the whole affair of flooring the throttle noisy and fruitless. A dual-clutch gearbox would have made the most out of this potent diesel engine but then it would’ve shot the cost up significantly.
In manual mode, we found the gearbox to have a better behavior although there was a slight time lag. After all is said and done, the 2.2-litre 6-AT 4×2 is a pretty decent performer once you learn to tweak your driving style to suit the transmission’s nature.
Ride, Handling and Braking
The new Ford Endeavour’s ladder frame chassis is suspended by independent coil springs at the front and coil springs connected via watts linkage system at the rear. All the four corners are supported by anti-roll bars.
If you’re a sucker for Ford’s famous ride and handling balance, you will fall in love with the new Endy instantly. The engineers managed to make this colossal high-riding ladder-frame SUV handle like a compact crossover and that is no small feat. The new Endeavour goes around bends with an assured poise and holds on to its line with great discipline. Even if you overcook it, the electronic nannies step in quickly and save you from a massive insurance bill as well as a bruised ego. The electric power steering is consistent and weighs up with speed nicely. It may not have the feel of a mechanical unit but the pull drift compensation technology counteracts crosswinds and minor undulations on the road thereby enhancing the already impressive straight line stability.
The beautifully damped suspension system keeps the cabin away from any unwanted bobbing or lateral movements. The ride quality is very good irrespective of the speed.
The premium 7-seater employs disc brakes at all the four ends and come equipped with standard ABS with EBD. Performance under panic braking was satisfactory and the car did come to a halt in a straight line.
Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH)
The new Ford Endeavour has an interesting technology called Active Noise Cancellation which deserves a special mention. Yes, the engine noise does filter into the cabin under hard acceleration but while on a relaxed cruise, the SUV feels so silent that you could almost hear yourself breathe if the music system is off and the AC blower is at its lowest setting! The system involves its own electronic brain, strategically located microphones and speakers. It measures the engine noise and neutralizes it by creating equivalent and opposite sound waves! You will have to experience the system first hand to fully appreciate its sheer brilliance. Tyre and wind noises are kept out too.
In my opinion, the Active Noise Cancellation system puts the new Endeavour right in the leagues of much more expensive luxury SUVs when it comes to cabin experience.
The new Ford Endeavour emerges as a vastly improved product compared to its predecessor in each and every respect. It attracts enviable looks on the road, impresses its occupants with a plush, spacious and quiet interior, has exceptional ride/handling characteristics and comes packed to the gills with useful features. The 6-speed auto takes a bit of getting used to but the 2.2-litre engine emerges as a terrific mile muncher. We can only imagine what the 200 PS 3.2-litre inline 5-cylinder is capable of!
Well, unless you are a hard-core off-road enthusiast (if you are one, go for the 4×4 variant), the 2.2-litre 6-AT 4×2 will definitely check all the boxes and some more. We will know about the pricing on 20th Jan, but we already think that Ford has an absolute winner in its hands!