The first thing that strikes you about the new Ford Endeavour is the fact that its maker didn’t attempt to ‘soften’ or ‘sharpen’ the SUV down through its design. It remains pretty much true to the typical SUV idea. An increasing number of modern SUVs are jettisoning the traditional ‘square’ appeal and are moving either towards ductile shapes or sharp, edgy appearances. Such vehicles don’t necessarily feel SUV enough. The Endeavour does—every bit so.
At a time when the world of passenger cars is rapidly moving towards monocoque construction—a structure in which the chassis is integral with the body—it’s not a frequent affair to come across a vehicle on ladder frame. Part of the Endeavour’s appeal lies in the fact that it retains the body-on-frame layout. It’s quite a large vehicle, measuring just shy of five metres, at 4,892mm. That, anyone would assume, should mean big space in the cabin, and it’s mostly true—save for the third row seats which are best suited for little kids. There’s more than adequate space in the middle row (it offers 60:40 split ratio) and the seats are large. So, there’s sufficient thigh and back support, and the space for the feet is also enough.
Ford is going to offer the Endeavour with two engine options—a 2.2-litre diesel that makes 158bhp and 385Nm, and a 3.2-litre diesel with specifications reading 197bhp and as much as 470Nm of torque. Huge!
Ford has had the 2.2-litre ZSD-422 diesel engine in its international portfolio for a few years now, but while developing it for the latest Endeavour, the engine underwent substantial revisions, with changes made to its injection system and its breathing process was enhanced by working up its inlet and exhaust systems. The six-speed automatic trim of the rear-drive model that we drove gets a ZF-developed gearbox that handles power delivery quite well, but could be a bit crisper in its reaction.
The steering is surprisingly light for a car of this size and girth, and driving the Endeavour around at city speeds on traffic-infested roads isn’t a tough ask. As the vehicle gains speed, the assistance from the electric motor goes down a notch and the steering feels slightly heavier in its function. It still doesn’t quite feel all that intuitive and rewarding, and could do with a bit more weight at high speeds.
The engine does a commendable job of hauling the 2,200-kg-plus rear-drive automatic 2.2-litre SUV, but the sheer weight of the Endeavour is a bit overwhelming for it. There’s good pull in the mid-range, but once you get at high cruising speeds, the engine feels a bit stressed.
Ford has packed the Endeavour with some very fancy items. There’s absolutely every feature that’s become a default for a car of this size and segment positioning. In addition, there’s cruise control, HID headlamps with auto-levelling function, and a jet spray to clean the glass surface. There’s also traction control system, and hill launch and descent assist. We couldn’t really try these features owing to the very limited time we got with the vehicle, but will be putting the Endeavour through a more elaborate road (and off-road) test very soon. During the time we spent driving it, though, we made a special note on the materials used in the cabin. Most plastic bits feel quite well-finished and have a uniform texture all through the interior.
The updated SYNC infotainment and communication system allows you not only to make and receive calls, but it also reads out text messages and is controlled via voice for other functions such as music selection etc. The TFT screen could do with slightly better touch-sensitivity, however. The Endeavour also features something called ‘Active Noise Cancellation’ technology to keep the cabin noise at the lowest possible level. There are three microphones that emit a low-frequency sound to oppose and minimise the noise made by the engine.
The trim we had wasn’t four-wheel drive—something that would’ve given us a chance to take the Endeavour through some off-road terrain. The highlight of the SUV, however, is its ride quality. The front suspension is a relatively straight-forward independent coil-spring set-up that’s aided by anti-roll bars, while the rear employs a more unique layout called Watt’s linkage. In this set-up, the axle is attached at opposing points through a pivot link that is fixed to the differential housing and it helps keep the differential and axle centred during suspension travel. This minimises lateral movement of the vehicle and gives a better dynamic feel from behind the wheel. That doesn’t, however, mean that the Endeavour is an enthusiastic corner-attacking SUV—there’s noticeable weight transfer in the corners, and the MRF Wanderer tyres don’t do it great justice either. But then again, SUVs aren’t meant to do that anyway, and that’s a great part of their raw appeal.
The previous-generation Ford Endeavour was quite a brutish SUV, and while the new one has more rounded proportions and overall stance, it hasn’t become diluted in its appeal. There’s still a strong sense of purpose to it, which is definitely quite a good thing in this age when ‘crossover’ vehicles are taking over the world.
SUV driven: 2.2-litre, TDCi
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
Layout: Rear-wheel drive
Launch date: January 20