2015 New Ford Endeavour First Drive Review: Burly Comeback

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Added in: Ford

 

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We were in Thailand, sampling the new Ford Everest; to be called the new Endeavour in India when it’ll be launched here within 6 months from now. To be locally assembled at Ford’s Chennai plant with minimal levels of localization, it will be competing with the next generation of Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport models, as and when both come by to the country.

The new Endeavour retains its roots as a true-blooded SUV with its body-on-frame construction, four-wheel drive and Terrain Management System. Improved levels of refinement mean that it becomes more versatile, be it urban environs, or harsh off-road conditions.

Exteriors

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Designed and developed by Ford’s Asia Pacific design and product development teams, the production version stays true to the Everest concept showcased by Ford a couple of years back in Sydney.

Exterior highlights include a trapezoidal front grille with chrome inserts, projector headlamps with signature LED daytime running lights, a 3D-formed front & undershields, muscular hood, heavily contoured side panels, large wheel arches, chiseled tail lamps with LED lighting, integrated aerodynamic “kickers” flanking the rear window to reduce drag and 20-inch alloy wheels.

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Authoritative chrome grille reeks of all things Americana.

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Projector headlamps and L-shaped DRL signature look the part.

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The 3D-formed front under shield optimizes underbody airflow, while extending upwards into the bumper to form the fog lamp surrounds.

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Faux vents on the side fenders are split by a chrome garnish, which read the engine capacity and transmission details.

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The rear gets a heavily contoured tail gate, while the bumper sports a similar 3D-formed under shield that extends upwards to form the rear fog lamp surrounds.

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Chiselled tail lamps get LED elements…

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..and are bridged by a strip of chrome that reads Everest here, but will read Endeavour in India.

Interiors

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The new Endeavour seats seven, and features a first-in-class power-fold third-row seating and power liftgate, along with a fold-flat second row for added flexibility and versatility. The seats, in general are large and accommodating, with generous room in all directions.

The second row rear seats, however lack a bit of under thigh support as one sits too high. The third row is also marginally spacious than the last generation, but features the slimmest backseat ever in a Ford to maximize interior space. All but the driver seat is 8-way power adjustable.

NVH levels cabin insulation are outstanding, with barely any engine noise filtering into the cabin. Ford has equipped the new Endeavour with Active Noise Cancellation in addition to optimizing cabin sealing and using sound absorbing materials throughout the vehicle.

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The beige interiors further feature a dual-panel moon roof, more than 30 stowage spaces including a glove-box that swallows a laptop, dual zone climate control with roof-mounted vents on second row, multiple power outlets, and a dual tone dashboard with piano black & dull silver inserts. With all the rear seats folded, the new Endeavour can hold up to 2.010 liters of cargo.

Build quality and fit/finish felt top notch. An India specific specification list is being worked upon, but it is still a grey area as the vehicle is going to be sold in 150 markets around the wall.

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The rather bulbous two-tone dashboard, along with the door pads get upmarket silver grey accents.

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Leather wrapped steering wheel with silver grey inserts feel great to hold.

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The front seats are well bolstered and accommodating…

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…and get 8-way power adjustability.

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The fold-flat second row had good room all around; but lacks proper under thigh support.

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The third row is also marginally spacious than the last generation, but still a squeeze.

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Instrument cluster is neat and contemporary; with a central speedometer flanked by two multi-information displays on either side. (See more in gallery below).

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The upmarket feel extends to the door pads; which, unfortunately, are not equipped to store 1-litre bottles.

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The glove-box is one of the 30 stowage spaces inside; and can swallow a laptop with ease.

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HVAC vents to cool second and third row occupants neatly flushed into the headliner, alongside the reading lamps.

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Cluster of knobs and switches representing Terrain Management System, Hill Descent Control, and Electronic locking differential.

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With all the rear seats folded, the new Endeavour can hold up to 2,010 liters of cargo.

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Second row occupants also get HVAC controls, apart power outlets everywhere, even on the last row (below).

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Engines & Performance

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Power for the new Endeavour comes from two diesel engines from Ford’s Duratorq family. Both are mated to six-speed automatic or manual transmissions. The brawnier of the two is the familiar 3.2-liter Duratorq five-cylinder TDCi diesel engine with 147 kW of power and 470 Nm of torque, with an updated exhaust gas recirculation system to boost efficiency. The 2.2-liter Duratorq four-cylinder TDCi diesel, putting out 118 kW of power and 385 Nm of torque.

Here are our first impressions from the brief drive:

The 2.2-liter engine did feel a little lag ridden, but the automatic transmission negates that appropriately. The VGT equipped 3.2-liter engine is a bit of a bruiser and relatively lag free, but doesn’t feel as quick or punchy in real world conditions as the specifications suggest. Both motors redline at close 5,000 rpm, but neither of them are eager to rev. That said, there’s plenty of torque, and the automatic transmission keeps them humming happily between 1500-2500 rpm.

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The 6-speed, single-clutch automatic transmission features a driver recognition software, which allows the transmission to adapt to the current driving style by analyzing acceleration, deceleration, braking, throttle inputs, and cornering speed. We kept getting flashes of this artificial intelligence, as the the car would hold on to a gear just a tad longer when driven spiritedly, and shift at the earliest when the going gets lazy. Shifts are satisfactorily rapid and kickdowns are smooth enough, but nowhere close to a DCT’s prowess.

Ride & Handling

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Off the road, the new Endeavour is commendably potent, with a robust body-on-frame design, a four-wheel drive system, an active transfer case with Torque on Demand, Terrain Management System, a best-in-class water-wading capability of 800 mm, 225 mm of ground clearance, and aggressive approach and departure angles.

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The wheel articulation is also impressive, and so is the Active Rear Differential, which is solenoid operated for locking. For extreme off-road environments, drivers can manually lock the transfer case in low-range four-wheel drive mode for increased control.

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Even on road, coil spring suspension with Watt’s linkage equipped solid rear axle accounts for a ride quality that’s a perfect balance between firm and plush. The suspension goes about its business silently, even when driven relatively briskly over bad patches of road. Due to the Watt’s linkage system, the rear differential is actually a part of the rear suspension.

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The new Endeavour rides on butch 265/50 tires wrapped around 20-inch alloy wheels for top end Titanium variant (above); and 265/60 tires with 18-inch wheels (below) for the lower variants.

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The first-in-class Terrain Management System works like a dream, and gives drivers four preset modes — Normal, Snow/Mud/Grass. Sand and Rock– that alter the vehicle’s throttle response, transmission, intelligent four-wheel drive system and traction control. Cornering capabilities aren’t too bad either, with controlled body roll from such a leviathan, helped mostly by electronic interference in the form of roll stability control.

The latter, along with the well calibrated Electric Power Steering, having the right amount of weight and assistance at varying speeds, keeps a semblance of Ford’s fun-to-drive DNA intact. That said, the steering wheel does have a hint of vagueness dead center, especially on highways.

With discs all around, ABS+EBD aided braking is highly reassuring. However, a slightly lighter pedal feel would have been appreciated.

Connectivity, infotainment and assistance systems

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The new Endeavour benefits from the latest generation of Ford’s in-car connectivity solution – SYNC 2, which works on natural voice commands to control the car’s entertainment system, climate controls and connected mobile devices.

SYNC 2 also employs an eight-inch touchscreen with color-coded corners for easy menu navigation. The entertainment system features a 10-speaker sound system with an integrated subwoofer. Sound quality is right up there with the premium trio. The sub adds bags of bass and the whole system works great with the Active Noise Cancellation technology.

Other segment-first technologies in the new Everest include Curve Control, designed to help drivers maintain control when approaching turns too quickly, and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, which informs drivers when there is a vehicle in their blind spot while driving or when preparing to reverse out of parking spots. However, this feature will be omitted for the Indian market.

The vehicle also offers others the aforementioned Roll Stability Control, Electronic Stability Program and Active Park Assist. But it remains to be seen if the latter feature will be offered for India.

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All in all, the new Ford Endeavour looks quite promising, and stays true to all the things Ford has highlighted on the car, which include praiseworthy cabin insulation, premium interiors and fine off-road capabilities. A detailed review on Indian soil shall unearth more nuances of the new Endeavour. Till then, the barely born next-gen Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Toyota Fortuner already have a lot to worry about.

with inputs and images from Arjun Dharve

New Ford Endeavour Mega Image Gallery

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