SUVs are already a rage in the Indian market for multiple reasons, the foremost being their ability to inflate egos and give people a false sense of superiority. Some people buy big, tall SUVs for the extra seating capacity and space, which is a legitimate reason to be investing in a category of vehicles, which generally aren't fun-to-drive. Many might find it surprising but one of the most important areas SUVs are made to address is off-roading. The high ground clearance, 4WD system and a lot many electronic babysitters are there in the SUV to help you go where cars dare not tread. This precisely makes SUVs a great choice of vehicles for those bitten by the travel bug. Hence, when I decided to take a short breather recently, I wanted to do some exploration, which meant no roads and that automatically meant an SUV. That SUV turned out to be the Ford Endeavour as I headed for a weekend trip to a forest resort in Jim Corbett. What happened over the next couple of days not only left me surprised but a bit sad too. If you want to know what led to all this then read on.
Why the Ford Endeavour
First things first, I'm not a seasoned off-road driver and while I've attended many off-road events, most of them were under expert supervision. There's some bit of serious off-roading I've done during some shoots but always there was another 4x4 SUV to come to the rescue in case things go awry. This time I had no backup and was on my own so clearly, I needed an SUV that would compensate for my limited off-road skills and avoid getting stuck and stranded. In addition, the vehicle had to be comfortable and good to drive, which isn't the case with all SUVs.
With all these requirements in mind, it didn't take long to figure out that the Ford Endeavour automatic fits these requirements to the 'T'. However, all this was on paper as I didn't know how well it would all work in the real world. My earlier experiences with the Endeavour were limited to urban confines so I had a lot to explore and whatever I did experience was mostly positive so nothing much to worry and it was time to pack.
The Boring and uneventful Highway run
Waking up early morning to beat the traffic, stopping over at the Haveli for breakfast and reaching our resort in Corbett by noon. This was all that happened on the highway on the first day. I left home at 5:30 am from Dwarka, Delhi and was driving down the NH2 in another 40 minutes. With a series of flyovers being constructed the traffic was slow-moving in certain places. In this environment, the Endeavour was comfortable as the high driving position along with excellent all-round visibility all-round. The great visibility came in handy since almost everyone on the roads around Ghaziabad seemed oblivious to the existence of traffic laws.
Once the traffic cleared, the Endeavour was able to stretch its legs and that seemed an easy task with a 3.2 litre TDCi engine developing a healthy 198 hp and 470 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which worked well in dense traffic and wasn't shy to drop a couple of ratios on the highway for quick overtaking manoeuvres.
It took me about 6 hours to reach Corbett with a stop for breakfast and owing to the comfortable seats and the brilliant driving position, I arrived at the resort without any fatigue. The rest of the day was spent trekking and the Endeavour got the rest of the day off.
Next day, the idea was to find a spot where the Ford Endeavour could put all of its off-road capability to use. With consultation from some local friendlies, I zeroed in upon a place a bit ahead of Marchula. This spot was about 25 km away from our resort in Corbett and had some beautiful winding roads on the way. The slight issue on these narrow roads was the Endeavour's size, which is quite big and hence at times, the SUV covered almost 80% of the road's width. Thankfully, traffic was light and I was able to push the behemoth at pace through the curves. It was on this series of sharp turns that the Endeavour left me impressed a lot. Contrary to the handling suggested by its size, the SUV retained the driving dynamics one would associate with Ford vehicles. Despite the high ground clearance and height, the Endeavour was able to go around corners at an impressive speed without any drama. The steering provided good feedback, which is crucial while pushing a large vehicle on such tight roads with little room for error. Soon, I crossed the two iron bridges over the river Ramganga and was close to reaching a spot to enter the riverbed in the Ford Endeavour, literally!
A little ahead of the second iron bridge, the road sloped down and led us to a point where there was a broken trail leading down to the riverbed. Of course, a large part of it was dry but the round stones along with loose surface meant things could get tricky if not done smartly.
Let's get some numbers out of the way first so that the off-road capability of the Endeavour can be expressed in figures. A high ground clearance of 225 mm along with an approach angle of 30 degrees and a departure angle of 25 degrees meant that going over some of the obstructions wasn't a concern.
Thankfully, the Ford Endeavour comes with Terrain Management System, which offers four driving modes – Road, Ice/ Snow, Sand and Rock. Adding more to its rock-crawling abilities is Hill Descent and Hill Assist along with 4x4 low range. I used the dial control to select rock mode, engaged 4x4 low (takes a few seconds and only happens in Neutral) and activated the Hill Descent. Now, not all of this was required for the broken path leading to the riverbed but since I had them all at my disposal why not use 'em!
With all electronic nannies working, all I had to do was control the steering and the Endeavour gently made its way down without any hiccups. If at such a time you find the going a bit too slow, you do have the option to increase/ decrease the speed using the cruise control buttons. Once on the dry part of the riverbed, I went up a bit ahead along the river bank up to the point where it wasn't safe to proceed without any support or backup. With some time spent in the river with knee-deep water, it was time to go again and the ride up was again completed with ease. It was only when I came up that a few local bystanders told me that many SUVs have got stuck while attempting to climb up as the sandy surface with loose stones breaks traction very easily. Thankfully, all the mechanical and electronic capabilities of the Endeavour meant I never even came close to feeling any discomfort.
Next day, I had an early breakfast and headed back on the highway towards Delhi and barring the traffic jam around Ghaziabad, everything went along smoothly. All occupants in the vehicle were impressed by the seating comfort and the cooling effectiveness of the AC as most of their time was spent sleeping. During the entire drive of about 750 km, the Endeavour also managed to return 9.1 kmpl to a litre of diesel, which is impressive considering its engine, size and weight.
The Ford Endeavour, in my opinion, is presently the best all-rounder SUV in its price-segment in the country. It definitely looks macho and menacing and that is something the Toyota Fortuner and Skoda Kodiaq don't possess. The cabin too is impressive with comfortable seats that are flexible so moving your house too shouldn't be possible in a few trips.
The one thing though, that needs to be updated is the infotainment system as it feels a bit basic. The other good thing about the Ford Endeavour is that it is genuinely an SUV you can have fun driving. A powerful engine with decent dynamics on the tarmac and excellent off-road dynamics mean you can actually go our exploring new places and experiences with your loved ones. So if wanderlust is your drug, it's impossible to think of a better vehicle than the Ford Endeavour in its segment. And the reason why I was sad at the end of this short road trip is that I had to return the Ford Endeavour although I hope I could have driven it for a few more days as it did turn out to be that good!
At Rs 32.81 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, the Ford Endeavour price is competitive for the 3.2 L 4X4 AT variant. Lower variants start from Rs 26.3 lakh, making the vehicle accessible and sensible for those looking for primarily urban usage.
Ford Endeavour 3.2 L 4x4 AT
|Prices(ex-showroom)||Rs 32.81 lakh|