Ford's new Endeavour has managed a fair bit of attraction since its launch and having a 2.0 litre and 3.2 litre diesel engines have helped its case. Recently, Ford India invited us to test the 3.2 litre version with a 4x4 system and a host of electronic aids. For the test, they prepared an off-road track at a top secret location in Bandwari farms, which is on the outskirts of Gurgaon, the Gurgaon-Faridabad road to be precise. After a short briefing, it was time to take the Endeavour through the course with 13 obstacles varying in difficulty. These obstacles were designed to highlight the effectiveness of the off-road driving modes the vehicle is equipped with and its overall off-roading capabilities.
As we started out on an unpaved trail towards the obstacles, it was time to play around with the Endeavour's Terrain Management System (TMS). The TMS offers access to four terrain modes, which alter the behaviour of the four-wheel drive system, gearbox and traction control. The first hurdle I came across was Hill Descent, which required the vehicle to go down a steep incline. All I had to do was engage 4x4 low and rock mode as the surface was littered with medium-sized stones. Thereafter, there was a bit of loose gravel to encounter, which was dispatched with ease in 4x4 high.
While the Endeavour felt at ease with slow speed off-roading, it surprised me with the way it handled a high-speed section with the surface being loose sand. Even at about 60 km/h, the 3 tonne SUV was going around corners as if the sand didn't exist as the Traction Control did its job well. Ride quality too was impressively comfortable, which means that if you encounter a bad section of road, the occupants aren't going to bothered much.
Next up were some simpler obstacles, which the Endeavour simply walked over but a regular SUV with a 4x2 system might not have felt comfortable in the same places. Then through the windshield, I could look at a slush pit, which did not appear to be too deep but regular passage of vehicle from that stretch had kind of screwed the surface. That meant I had to be precise with the line through the pit and beyond that the Grass Gravel & Snow mode in conjunction with the 4x4 system took care of the slush pit. Out of the pit, we encountered a fairly steep decline with a left-hander in the end of the slope and a sharp left-hander at the edge of the next steep uphill climb. It was after this, we stopped at the edge of the steepest downhill run followed by a sharp right-hander onto a fairly tough incline.
We engaged the 4x4 low ratio and slipped into Rock Mode and voila! All I had to do was control the steering as the 4x4 low and traction control individually braked each wheel to ensure the vehicle doesn't lose traction. At the bottom of the drop, we had to turn right and had to overcome a steep incline with its mud surface already butchered by earlier runs. Towards the end, the Endeavour seemed to be slowing down but a generous dab of throttle took care of the problem.
We then lined up for the last major obstacle in the course, a water-wading pit, which again due to the torture by earlier vehicles had turned into slush-wading pit. The pit was designed to test the Endeavour's vital off-roading statistics of 225 mm ground clearance and 800 mm water-wading capacity. We gently rolled to the base of the pit till the vehicle was straight and after a moment of being stationary, we accelerated with a strong yet linear throttle input. I could feel the wheels struggling for traction and the electronic nannies working overtime to ensure none of them runs out of grip. In the end, without much drama, the Endeavour pulled out of the water/ slush pit with relative ease. Following this obstacle, there were some minor ones comprising of a high speed run and chicken holes, with the latter putting the suspension articulation to test.
At the end of the course, I had the option of going around again and I happily agreed. This time I used the 4x4 low only once on the steepest decline. All other obstacles were encountered with in 4x4 high with ease just making use of the Terrain modes through the TMS. That highlighted that in the hands of a capable off-roader, the Endeavour despite it size and weight can be surprisingly capable.
On the road too, the Endeavour is impressive as I've driven it earlier and it strikes a good balance between power, refinement, comfort and off-road capabilities. After a recent price-cut, the Endeavour 3.2 l with 197 hp and 470 Nm of torque, makes a better value proposition. The Ford Endeavour 3.2 litre is now priced at Rs 25.9 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, translating into a price-cut of a little over Rs 1.7 lakh. At this price, there is no other SUV on sale right now, which offers such power, features and electronic aids combined with an impressive 4x4 system.