With a brutish, square cut face, boxy dimensions and an attitude to mow down lesser metal with even a hint of cheeky nerve, the previous Endeavour took the powerful for slaves. Those with muscle and money along with an insatiable need to show their clout took out their wads of cash and duly presented it to the guy in a black suit at the Ford dealerships without asking any questions. The Endeavour ruled with no opposition for its early years.
Like all centres of power, though, the hegemonic behemoth did eventually face hostility, and after some courageous skirmishes lost its seat of power to the Fortuner, which has reigned the tattered Indian streets ever since.
But that’s the thing with a true warrior’s bloodline; it keeps coming back for what it lays claim on. Putting aside the valour drenched, yet effectively futile story of its forebear who went down fighting on its arthritic legs, the young and virile new Endeavour is challenging the incumbents holding a morning star mace in its beefy arm. Dressed like a warrior prince in its prime, the American brute is here to seize back what it believes is rightfully its own. Does it have the fortitude to climb and conquer the uphill fortress currently acquired by its oriental nemesis? Here’s a prelude to a battle that’ll soon unfold.
Design and appearance – Natty giant
There’s this thing about Australia – it changes your perception about your breed, not necessarily in a racial way, though even that bit holds in some cases. A Saturday night out, clubbing with friends in Sydney made me think of myself as a midget. I found myself surrounded by these gigantic, tall moving structures covered generously in tendons, with an appearance uncannily similar to humans that entire evening. Well dressed, well behaved, but daunting nonetheless – those creatures made me feel small, smaller than I have ever felt. And that’s more or less the Endeavour for you. It’s a rugged, hulking giant who’d come across as someone educated, well behaved and polite until you manage to prick him and get squashed to pulp in the bargain.
The Herculean girth of the warrior prince has been tucked away as inconspicuously as possible under a classy outfit. The Endeavour’s face is defined by a pair of smart looking spearhead headlamps with a double barrel setup – one of the units being a projector. The serious face of this behemoth is characterized by a chrome drenched twin slat octagonal grille with the Blue Oval basking in the middle of its blinding glint. Those headlamps get LED DRLs running through their lower end and flanks. It all looks classy, premium and very, very appealing.
Part of that monstrous bumper at the lower end is a silver-shaded faux under guard, ending sharply as a housing for those angular fog lamps. There is a big gap between the bumper and that armour-like under guard radiating the look of an intake. It is, however, the space between the under guard and the ground which is more intriguing – that sort of clearance can probably make this thing go over a smaller hutment without touching its roof.
The flanks of that vast bonnet slope downwards for a few inches before bulging up spectacularly to form what we’d like to call a power plateau. Over and above that there’s a power dome in the middle to exude more authority. Surprisingly enough, even with so much beef over its bone, the Endeavour doesn’t appear ‘loud’ – it looks muscular in a sophisticated way. That face is bold, imposing, and yet, it just stops short for being threatening – and that’s a very, very good thing in a world dominated increasingly by fashionable crossovers with refined sensibilities.
Over to the sides, the huge wheel arches cover acres of area, with hectares of space still left between them and the big 18 inch wheels, which try hard to fill that gap wearing those massive hi-profile MRF Wanderers. They can’t, quite. And unlike on a city car, where that gap would be an ugly blot, here it appears apt, underlining the beast’s capability to step where it wills and adding visually to its terrain conquering cred.
The windscreen is unusually raked for this class of vehicles, probably to make up for the aerodynamic loss sustained with that square jaw-line. Glinting chrome can be found in spades here too, with door handles and ORVMs painted in the shiny material. A sporty fender vent reading 2.2 6 Auto is also splashed in chrome.
There’s a huge rubber padded footboard to help all men, tall and little, climb into that lofty cabin. The greenhouse has been lined in a black shade, while the roofline gets defined by a pair of silver shaded roof rails. A mild waistline emanates from the fender vent and culminates into the rear door handle to create a mildly chiselled surface. Lower area of the doors gets gently scooped out with a straight crease originating from under the rear window and ending above the above the haunches to form the defining lines of this brute’s muscles.
18 inch 6×2 alloys with black highlights look smashing, and have solid discs trying to peep through the openings. Towards the rear, that roof spoiler tries its bit to add an air of litheness to the hulking frame. In the meantime, the organically shaped tail lamps, and flanks of the rear under guard try to barge into the profile, and add their bit to the look.
Classily brawny up front, the new Endeavour ‘s heftiness gets a tad bit diluted as we move rearwards. It still reeks of muscle in spades, but in comparison to that tough front, those curvy tail-lamps with twin layered c-shaped LED illumination don’t quite match up. The sporty spoiler and a kinked rear quarter glass further takes the appearance further from the angular theme bringing it closer to curves. A huge horizontal chrome plaque with ‘Endeavour’ engraving, a silver under-guard following the frontal theme faithfully and a steeply raked rear windscreen define this vengeful prince’s derriere.
The Endeavour then, visually is a gentle giant. Unmistakably powerful and masculine, but refined and cultured enough to not make you wince; the Endeavour is a credible template of a scholarly warrior out to reclaim its territory with authority
Engine and drivetrain – Mellow hulk
At our disposal for this test was the 2.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine, mated to a 6-speed torque converter auto, 4×2 drivetrain in the top of the line Titanium trim. This engine can also be had with a 4×4 or 4×2 drivetrain paired with along with manual transmission. You can’t have the 2.2 diesel with the auto tranny and 4×4 though.
Apart from the smaller 2.2 diesel, there’s is also the 3.2 litre diesel which is available only with a 6 speed automatic, albeit in both 4×2 and 4×4 formats. For this review, we’ll limit our discussion only to the 2.2 4×2 AT, as we haven’t sampled another variants yet.
To get the output figures out of the way, the 2198 cc turbo diesel engine delivers 160 PS of peak power at @ 3200 rpm and 385 Nm of peak torque between 1600-2500 rpm. For some reason, Ford has decided that you need to twist the key and not thumb the starter button on this one. Ironically, the much smaller and cheaper Ecosport has the feature. So twist the key, and the engine comes to life with the tacho needle settling down to a relaxed 800 clicks after a couple of seconds.
There’s hardly any engine noise inside – cabin refinement on this one decidedly aces the segment. Ford has employed a new kind of wizardry termed ‘active noise cancellation’ to cut down noise. The speakers inside the cabin chant some low frequency magic spells to negate any noise that may filter in. We aren’t sure how exactly it works, but it sure as hell does.
The cabin is fantastically well insulated from wind, road and tyre noise and you get to hear the whishes and the whooshes only once you’ve decided to stand on the pedal hurling this behemoth at a velocity north of 140 km/h.
That’s when the doors are shut, windows are up and the car is moving. Park the car, step outside of the cabin and you’ll fall to death from that height, so climb down and you’ll realize that the noise emanated by engine is quite loud. It’s indeed some heavy insulation and that active noise cancellation tech that shields you inside the cabin from that thrum.
The Endeavour tips the scale at 2.2 tonnes, so while those 160 horses might prance uncontrollably on lesser machines, they don’t have the savage, chest thumping effect here. Our prince’s smaller steed thus, is good enough for a fast canter, but it never froths its way to a blurry gallop.
There is a wee bit of turbo lag to be experienced on the move, though the auto transmission doesn’t let you bother about it. The smooth, refined engine feels nice and tractable through the city, the light steering and the commanding sky high driving position making it surprisingly easy to manoeuvre the metallic mansion on wheels through the bunged up cityscape.
Hit the open roads and the Endeavour revels in cruising at leisurely engine speeds, it’ll cruise all day long at 120 kph without a crinkle of worry on its face. Shove the right pedal and the transmission shows reluctance to drop a gear. The torque converter six-speeder is a smooth unit, but isn’t quick by any stretch of imagination. It takes its time swapping cogs, while also exhibiting the loathsome rubber band effect more often than welcome. The transmission can also be worked upon manually using the Tiptronic function. The shift times here aren’t quick enough either and you’ll always experience a lag of about a second between dialling a gear and getting you call connected.
Hold on to a gear and the Endeavour moves forward in a linear manner and at a reassuring, if not blistering pace. You’ll never get shoved into the back of your seats with this one. The engine has great mid-range torque, though performance starts fading after 3800 rpm and the tacho needle’s climb thereafter, all the way up to the redline, a little short of 5000 revs is a bit of an effort.
All of it, however, should not be read as negative commentary though. For the Endeavour has an endearingly smooth, relaxed and calming demeanour which makes for a very comfortable and hassle free driving experience. In terms of numbers, 140 kph at 4k revs in fourth gear should tell you the kind of speeds this thing is comfortable doing. That number in kph, though, is more or less the upper reach of speeds you’d want to be doing while feeling in safe and comfortable. The Endeavour most definitely can go faster if you are a petulant kid, but it’s not very eased out in that zone.
Ford is offering a bevy of driver aids too, but we’ll delve deeper into the subject once we start talking about the driving dynamics part. In the meantime, what you need to remember is that the Endeavour’s super refined powertrain lends itself for a relaxed drive, with a muffled dislike for being pressed on hard.
Interior and features – An upholstered playground
To start with, you need to have a healthy pair of knees to get inside this thing. Akin to the thrones of emperors where the ruler had to climb a few stairs to be distinguished enough from the courtesans, the Endeavour requires you to make that extra effort to see what the world looks like from that high a seating position. I remember having to somewhat tilt may gaze down while overtaking a guy in a Fortuner on my way back after the shoot.
Once in, though, you’ll be greeted by large, well padded and leather upholstered seats with genuinely good side bolstering. The steering isn’t adjustable for reach, with only tilt adjustability, which is a bit of a shame for this class of cars. It doesn’t take much to get into the perfect driving position with powered driver seats though.
Behind the chunky steering wheel is an analogue speedo flanked by two screens which can become what you want them to be. The right screen can be turned into a tacho cum fuel guage cum digital speedo, or show you one of the many functions displayed in the gallery below
The left screen in the meantime shows you what’s happening with the infotainment system
Infotainment is controlled by a large-ish central screen, which though loaded with functions and features, could have done with better touch responsiveness. Divided into five major sections namely phone, entertainment, information system, climate and settings the interface lets you control more things than you probably need to. While the system has a multitude of features, the omission of navigation did manage to somewhat perturb us.
The dashboard is finished in leather, a contrasting dark brown shade as opposed to the seats’ beige hue – the steering gets black shade for its leather. Contrasting beige stitching on the dash looks nice, and the interior feels plush and upmarket overall.
There is a glossy grey plastic insert between the upper and lower dash, encompassing the vertically shaped, chrome surrounded central and side air vents. The quality of the plastics and materials is generally good with a built to last feel
Let’s take a tour of the cabin and its features with images and captions
That’s how much space you get in the third row. It’s not supremely comfy, with a lack of under-thigh support and a knee-up sitting position, but it’s still better than most other similar cars which literally make you sit on the floor. Check out the scooped out roof for added headroom – and it really works
Leg room at the third is reduced once you slide the middle row all the way back
Heavy sound deadening under the bonnet to ensure an eerily quiet cabin
Twin USB slots, an SD card slot and aux-in for music playback.
Area ahead of the front armrest gets twin cupholders, a coin try and a bit more space ahead for storing wallet or cellphone, The front central arm-rest also has a lot of space underneath the cover, though it cannot be moved fore and aft
Coat hooks even for the third row passenger
Both third row passengers get their own cupholders
And a 12V power socket too
The slot to lowe the spare wheel, hidden neatly under the floorboard.
Scooped out front seatbacks for maximum legroom, along with a seat pocket
Temperature and blast control for the second row passengers along with a 12V socket
Lights for the second row
The multifunction steering wheel is loaded with buttons, probably too many of them. The fingers or palm never fouls with them though
Pillar mounted handles help people climb in the lofty cabin, while also providing something to hold on to as the cabin rocks wildly while going off the road
Front door panels have space for a big water bottle and more
Various configurations of the luggage area. The Endeavour provides an extremely flexible, fold flat boot area and can likely be used for moving houses
Easy to operate levers to quickly drop down the second and third row seats
A view of the roof mounted AC vents for the second and third row
Legroom after sliding the middle row all the way forward and backwards
Ride and handling – Velvet lounge
The one absolutely outstanding aspect of the Ford Endeavour is its extraordinarily absorbent ride quality. It’s one area where this American leviathan is going to hit the stiff, bouncy Fortuner really hard – offering incomparably better suspension and resultantly much superior comfort for the occupants.
Featuring an independent front setup with coil springs, and watts linkage type setup coil springs at the rear (anti-roll bars at both ends), the Endeavour’s suspension is the new gold standard for the segment. It’s on the softer side, matching the comfort oriented, relaxed demeanour of the SUV, sans the unwelcome wallowy-ness and roll.
The steering is surprisngly light for the size of the car and even petite ladies won’t find goading this monster out of tight spaces a troublesome affair. Negotiating the impolite, paver block riddled, cobbled and sometimes non-existent roads of Mumbai on our way out, we were convinced by the impeccable ride quality of the Endeavour at once. Out on the open highway roads, the Endeavour took into its stride the expansion joints of bridges, speed breakers and potholes with condescension. Small to medium potholes are disposed as though they never existed in the first place. Ride quality remains exceptional across the speed range, and over a whole spectrum of surfaces.
Venturing further towards Nasik, we treaded wide open roads, with medium to long sweeping curves which can be beguiling at times. We threw the Endeavour at the bends to have a measure of its centre of gravity, suspecting it would roll like a boat what with such a soft, cushiony ride. It took us by surprise, exhibiting a tendency to hold its line really well, and resisting roll to a commendable extent. Sure, it a big heavy machine and the laws of physics do apply, but the engineering prowess of Ford is there to be seen and experienced, making this beast a treat as a practical balance between a phenomenally compliant ride and predictable handling.
That steering too, despite being light, is precise and takes out the guesswork from placing the mammoth confidently on the road. Sharp manoeuvres, when required can be handled with confidence and the Endeavour doesn’t have the unnerving jitteriness the vehicles its size generally suffer.
The Endeavour also comes with an additional electronic safety net of traction control and Electronic Stability Program to cover up for a stupid driver’s deeds. It also gets Hill Launch Assist to prevent it from rolling back on steep inclines. Hill descent control is available too, but not on this specific variant.
Safety – Bear hug
As driver aids and active safety measures, the 2.2 AT variant gets a rear view camera, rain sensing wipers, electrochromic auto dimming inner EVMs and heated ORVMs along with a tyre pressure monitoring system. Automatic self-levelling HID headlamps with jet-wash provide fantastic illumination even in the rains with muck flying off the vehicles ahead and smudging the headlamp lens. Cruise control and an adjustable speed limiter are also on offer.
On the passive safety side, the gear is equally impressive with a rock solid construction to handle impacts without putting the occupants in the harm’s way, along with dual front, side and curtain airbags. The top of the line 3.2 diesel also gets a driver’s knee airbag though it’s not available here. Driver and passenger seatbelt reminder with pre-tensioner, along with Ford’s Emergency Assistance round things off.
The new Endeavour sure looks ominous. It may not be a ‘trailblazing’ hoot to drive, but it has what appeals to the audience in the segment, especially in India. Size, refinement, comfort, features, style, luxury, space and convenience – the Endeavour has all of those qualities in profusion.
The medieval prince analogy we associated with this review has us visualizing one Achilles fuming in anger and calling out one Hector from outside the walls of his own fort, if you recall the famous scene from Troy. Sure, Achilles had a weakness in his heel, and the Endeavour could probably have done with a bit more shove and a quicker transmission. Our warrior here, though, is decidedly much stronger than its nemesis, and we already see the broken spear piercing Hector’s heart. The Endevaour is destined to rule, until someone attacks its heel that is.
Price as tested : Rs 24.4 lakh ex-showroom
Tech specs, features and variants provided below in the brochure (click to expand)