Big, entry-level SUVs are now so ubiquitous in the Indian market that we are often left wondering whether they’d been around for decades. Truth is, our national obsession with these hulking machines only dates back to the late 90s and early 2000s – an era where the Tata Safari and the Ford Endeavour were at the genesis.
Fast forward to 2016 and much has changed. Both these vehicles have gone through generation changes and fairly enough, the combination of modern-age technology and reinvented luxuries bear little resemblance to what once was dull and drab. Ford, especially, has gone to great lengths to set the bar high with the all-new, third-generation Endeavour which will soon go on sale here in India.
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.
Being comfortable and driving an Endeavour might not have had much in common in the past, but with this 2016 model, Ford has made a genuine effort to change that. What follows is a cabin that looks properly modern and boasts of plenty of touches usually found in European SUVs. The dashboard itself is quite welcoming with the top-half wrapped in leather and shiny grey accents for the middle portion. The bottom half, meanwhile, is finished in the usual black and beige combo which looks pleasant.
The center console though is bit of a mixed bag. While the 8-inch touchscreen display and volume/tuner dials are nice and big, the rest of the knobs and switches are surprisingly small and do not really feel long-lasting. Coming back to the touchscreen display, the 8-inch unit houses Ford’s in-car connectivity solution, SYNC 2 which controls the entertainment system, climate control and mobile devices. While the navigation menu is mostly clutter-free, the UI is a bit slow to react. Other cabin highlights include the superbly finished door handles, a well-crafted multifunction steering wheel and an electrically foldable third row although what really lifts up the cabin ambience especially for the driver is the clean looking instrument cluster that houses a big analogue speedometer with full digital displays on either side. The twin digital screens display most of the car settings and even a digital tachometer.
Now there is no hiding the Endeavour’s near 5-metre length and sure enough, parking this behemoth next to the sidewalks will be a difficult task. Fret not though because the Endeavour can guide its way into a parking spot on its own, thanks to the Active Park Assist. What the latter does is automatically steer the car into a big enough spot while the driver takes care of acceleration and braking.
Looking at it from the outside, you wouldn’t be wrong to expect the Endeavour to be hugely spacious and practical on the inside. As a matter of fact, there is no shortage of space in both the front and the rear. With half-a-dozen adjustments, finding a comfortable posture in the front seat is a breeze while the rear isn’t too bad either. Although there is plenty of legroom for the rear seat passengers, the high floor means the under thigh support is somewhat compromised. Speaking of compromise, the last row is surprisingly spacious for two small passengers but as is usually the case, the access is really clumsy and watching a passenger shimmy over to the seat behind the second row is not exactly a graceful sight either.
Ford will be offering the new Endeavour with two diesel engine options - a 2.2-litre, 148bhp four-cylinder unit and a bigger 197bhp, 3.2-litre, five-cylinder. While the smaller four-banger motor will be offered with either a manual or an automatic gearbox, the 3.2-litre engined model that you see here is limited to an automatic and all-wheel drive as standard. The engine in this vehicle is essentially an upgraded version of Ford’s globally proven 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi unit.
The Endeavour with the 3.2-litre engine produces 197bhp but the figure that really shouts its abilities is the 470Nm of torque that comes in between 1750rpm and 2500rpm. Thanks to this, the Endeavour is able to hide its 2-tonne-plus bulk and sprint to action without much effort. In fact, the vehicle is deceptively quick both at city speeds and out on the highway, thanks to the linear power delivery and impressive sound insulation. If there’s any drawback here, it’s the relaxed nature of the 6-speed automatic gearbox that doesn’t like to be rushed when driven spiritedly. That being said, gearshifts are smooth otherwise and the auto box complements the urban-friendly nature of the powertrain.
As is the case with most ladder frame SUVs, the Endeavour is totally unfazed by pothole riddled roads. The ride quality is impressive most of the time although things can get slightly bumpy for the rear seat passengers. Now although we believe spirited driving jaunts will be few and far between, the Endeavour does hold on quite well in the corners for a full-size SUV. Being a Ford, steering feel from the EPS is nothing short of good and perhaps the Endeavour can even be deemed fun to drive as long as there are no overly sharp directional changes involved.
The old Endeavour was a bit of a mountain goat and if we look at all the off-road hardware in here, this new model doesn’t seem any different. There’s all-wheel drive, an active transfer case with torque on demand, terrain management system and a class-leading 225mm ground clearance. The terrain management system, in particular, is a neat piece of kit and comes with Land-Rover style pre-set settings - normal, snow/gravel/grass, sand and rock. The system alters vehicle's throttle response, all-wheel drive and traction control to offer maximum traction.
|Variant||3.2L 4x4 AT Titanium|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||197bhp @ 3000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||470 @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||80|
|Tyre size||265/60 R18|
|7 Airbags (Driver, Passenger, Side and Curtain Airbags, Knee Airbag)||Yes|
|Terrain Management System||Yes|
|Semi Automatic parallel park assist||Yes|
|SYNC with voice control||Yes|
|Leather upholstery with leather wrapped gear knob and steering wheel||Yes|
|Reav view camera||Yes|
|Electrically foldable third row seats||Yes|
|Active noise cancellation technology||Yes|
|Panoramic sun roof||No|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||3.2L 4x4 AT Titanium||LTZ AT||3.0 4x4 AT|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||197bhp @ 3000||197bhp @ 3600||169bhp @ 3600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||470 @ 1750||500 @ 2000||342 @ 1400|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||80||76||80|
|Tyre size||265/60 R18||265 / 60 R18||265 / 65 R17|
While this new 2016 Endeavour is unarguably leagues better than what it replaces, Ford India aren’t really looking to outdo themselves. As a matter of fact, the brand is vying for the entry-level full-size luxury SUV crown and the new Endeavour is more than capable for the task. It not only looks the part but also drives well. And more importantly for fans of the old Endeavour, it still comes with genuine off-road credentials.
The new Endeavour is expected to cost anywhere between Rs 24 lakh and Rs 30 lakh, depending on the engine and trim levels. At this projected price range, it will probably be among the top of the buyers’ list, until Toyota brings out the all-new Fortuner, that is.