Ford Endeavour 2.2 First Drive Review

With each passing year, SUVs get pricier. And while still not stratospheric, the full-size/seven-seater SUV segment is already in the Rs 25-30 lakh bracket. It becomes obvious for the customer to expect premium features alongside butch looks and a capable drivetrain. Keeping that in mind, the new Ford Endeavour 2.2 Diesel (called the Everest in a lot of other markets) is off to a good start. But how does it drive? We’ll tell you just that.

Aesthetics

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The new Endeavour is big, but Ford’s done a great job to mask the SUV’s massiveness. The almost Tonka Truck-like appearance is complemented by the use of curves and creases in the right places. Look at the bonnet for instance, and you have multiple creases making it look all the more muscular without succumbing to old techniques like an added bonnet scoop. We like!

The rear door too has some nice curves, and the chrome Endeavour badge hugs those curves. On the whole, the design is attention-grabbing yet tasteful. The Endeavour looks fresher than the others in the luxury SUV segment while managing to look aggressive enough. As far as pure style goes, the Hyundai Santa Fe is still the winner.

Performance and Handling

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The Endeavour is still a proper SUV, so it’s safe to say that you won’t mind taking it off the road. On the road, it’s quite stable at triple digit speeds. While it’s quite easy to steer, the 4.89 metres of blob that you’re driving isn’t going to behave like a hatchback. Remember this, and you’ll be fine. The controls are light, too.

At 1.837 metres, it’s quite tall, and hence body roll creeps in. But then again, expecting something that could climb rocks, bash sand dunes, and even easily get out of slush, to have sportscar-like handling is inane. Let’s leave that to crossovers/soft-roaders, says the new Endeavour.

And that’s actually a good thing, because it is really potent as a big SUV, and doesn’t compromise on what it’s supposed to do – have good straight line stability, the ability to gobble potholes, and even take the road-less-taken more often than you and I could imagine.

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The 2.2-litre engine makes 160 PS and 385 Nm, both of which don’t take too long to arrive. The six-speed automatic gearbox on the test car was okay in Drive mode but had the age-old issue of revving till the red line and not going anywhere in Sport mode.

If you’re looking at something that’s insanely quick, then sadly, this drivetrain combination isn’t the best choice, but for most everyday tasks, it’s adequate. While it doesn’t feel as fast or torquey as the Fortuner 3.0, it’ll keep it’s neck ahead of the Fortuner 2.5 we reckon.

The test vehicle was RWD (2WD) but it didn’t pose any problem in tackling sand and bad roads. With the Traction Control switched off, the Endeavour does become a lot of fun in sand. In fact it’s got enough poke to overwhelm the rear 265-section 18-inchers. Wonder how the 3.2 will be!

Ride and Comfort

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In terms of seating, the Endeavour comes with a usual 2+3+2 configuration. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height, and makes sure that you aren’t sitting uncomfortably high. While the view’s quite good, the sheer size of the Endeavour takes some time getting used to – just needs a recalibration of brain and maybe a leap of faith or two to bring in the confidence.

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The second row is comfortable, but most of you won’t like the third row. Getting in and out of there takes effort, and my suggestion would be to take the bus if what you’re wearing is anything remotely similar to a skirt or a ‘lungi’.

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In terms of ride comfort, the Endeavour surprises again with the ability to soak in bumps. There’s some lateral movement on certain rough patches, but not enough to make occupants complain. On the highway – which will be the Endeavour’s habitat – it stays pretty stable. And as far as the person behind the wheel is concerned, s/he is likely to stay happy, too, given that the driver’s seat is quite supportive.

Interior and Equipment

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The Endeavour is by far the best Ford product as far as the interior quality goes – that faux leather on the dashboard, the choice of fabric for the roof liner, overall fit and finish, the light interior…

I can even go on to say that the cabin is miles ahead of what the competition offers, and has the ability to take on sedans priced in the same range. And it just doesn’t end there: the touchscreen infotainment system, the buttons and knobs, and even the design of the instrument console add to the experience. I personally am not a fan of ambient lighting but everything else feels just right on the Endeavour.

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There will be two trim levels: Trend and Titanium. That makes for 6 variants in total. A 10-speaker infotainment system with SYNC connectivity is available across the range, while in terms of safety, the Trend variants get only dual airbags, while the Titanium gets up to seven airbags in total (frontal, side, curtain, and driver’s knee). Dual zone climate control and cruise control are available on all versions. The Terrain Management System, on the other hand, is standard on 4×4 variants.

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And let’s not forget the active noise cancellation system, which cuts down on the intrusive engine noise. It works well at lower rpms, which is where the Endeavour is likely to be for most drivers. But as the revs mount, the engine does makes a lot of noise if you’re not in the right gear. The same happens when you mash the throttle pedal.

Should you buy one?

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Of course, yes. Is it too soon to say? Well, maybe yes, given that Ford hasn’t announced the vehicle’s prices yet. Keeping that aside for a minute, the new Endeavour seems like a very desirable product for what it is. So if Ford gets the pricing right, it’ll be able to cater to the Endeavour fans who have been looking for something leagues ahead of the Fortuner. Yes, in comparison to the current/outgoing Toyota Fortuner, the Endeavour appears to be a better everyday product. Ford, can we have one in the Tonka livery, please?