Sunday, March 12, 2017

The new Ford Endeavour reviewed (Trend 2.2 4x4 MT)

I drove the new (actually about an year old, released in India during Jan 201) Ford Endeavour for a short while recently. I have drive and reviewed earlier Endeavours (Read first gen here and second gen here. But I didn't have a chance to drive the latest version yet, untill Zoomcar added it to their fleet and I found it convenient to rent one and try it out. This post shares few of my observations about the new SUV from Ford.

As I took delivery of the mighty vehicle from Zoomcar, I was surprised to see that it was 4x4 variant. Usually Zoomcar buys cheaper variants but in this case though there was a cheaper 2,2 4x2 AT variant available, Zoomcar has purchased slightly expensive 2.2 4x4 MT Trend version. May be because Zoomcar folks felt MT will give better fuel economy and easier to maintain than the auto version. The top of the line 3.2 litre 4x4 AT version has an on road price of about 40 lakhs.

Endeavour (known as Everest in rest of the world) is Ford's second most expensive offering in India (because now they also sell Mustang) and looks to fight neck to neck with Toyota Fortuner,which sells in much larger numbers than Ford. (While Ford sold around 350+ Endeavors in Feb 2017, Toyota has sold 2000+ Fortuners in the same month)

As I stepped inside, the well thought through driver's seat welcomed me. The view is nice. There is electronic seat adjustment but no memory function. I always liked the manual adjustment because it is instant, whereas the electrical motor driven movement takes several seconds to move from say back most to front most position. Steering doesn't have telescopic adjustment (Fortuner offers it) but the touch screen is great- big and interactive. No navigation though but it offers great parking sensors- now on the front too (Fortuner misses it). Note that besides what I have experienced first hand I am also including few features available in top end variants of the two cars, so as to compare them right. Trend variant does miss many features to keep the cost low. Titanium gets big panoramic sunroof, not available with fortuner, not even as an option. (Some car makers claim sunroof compromises structural rigidity of the car, but all expensive cars have them, I guess there're ways to take care of compromise on structural rigidity)

Endeavour's new feature is the new terrain management system. You can select from normal, snow mode, sand mode and rock mode. Each of these mode changes the way power is distributed to the wheels and how wheels spin and engine revs are maintained, trying to offer optimal performance in each of the scenarios. But what is missing is the auto mode. There's no way for letting the system decide what's right mode possible. (Auto mode was not available in Freelander/Discovery Sport either, but available in more expensive Range Rover family). Note that for even optimal experience you might need to reduce/increase tyre pressure also in many cases, but don't think that can be automated.

I couldn't try any off-roading during my short city drive. Hopefully some other time. The space between front 2 seats is highly utilitarian but doesn't feel like a 40 lakh car. (XUV5OO gets a more inspiring set-up)

The driver information system is nice. Speedometer is still analogue but rest of the info is well displayed. If seat belt is not engaged, music will not play as a punishment! (True even for passenger seat belt)

Touch screen infotainment system is large and interactive. Feels much better than Fortuner which gets a smaller unit.

Steering wheel is has nice grip, stiffens with speed but misses out on telescopic adjustment. Also no keyless entry. Need to insert key and turn like the old times. Fortuner offers push button start. Earlier Ford cars used to have turn indicator levers on the right, opposite of other cars. Now this seems to be aligned more to Indian market.

Second row gets its own AC controls

Suspension is soft, absorbs most of the obstacles.

The front doesn't have dramatic lines like the new Fortuner. It is simple no nonsense look from Ford. I am not designed in a studio, I am designed in a gym feeling. Zoomcar has registered them in Pune and running them in Karnataka- for some administrative reasons I guess.

On the rear, boot lid gets auto function (Powered by a motor, it gets released on its own, but closing is manual effort). Also as a security measure, you need to tap on the boot release button on key fob twice to release it. 3rd row seats can be auto-folded at the press of a lever in expensive variants. (it is manual in Fortuner)

I am not very clear if Ford's Child Parts Strategy is applicable to Endeavour also(it aims to reduce maintenance cost by ensuring that each part is replaceable on its own, without having to replace the whole assembly)

Ford Endeavour's advantages over Fortuner;
1. More power, torque: The 3.2 litre variant gets one more cyclinder, more power and torque than Fortuner. But Endeavour is also heavier by 250 kgs. This negates the power to weight ratio, bringing it at par with Toyota Fortuner.

2. Ford Endeavour seems to be more tuned towards driver/first row passengers while Fortuner has more space in second row, probably targeted at chauffeur driven customers.

3. For an equivalent version, Endeavour is a bit cheaper than Fortuner. But price difference is not strong enough to tilt a purchase decision in Ford's favor if customer has liked some of Fortuner's features better than Ford. Fortuner is available in more variants n options than Endeavour.

4. More features- sunroof option, front parking sensors, auto folding last row seats, 10 speakers (Fortuner gets 6), Sync 3 system, better entertainment system etc

Ford Endeavour's drawbacks or disadvantages over its rival Toyota Fortuner

1. Longer wheelbase
Ford Endeavour has about 100mm longer wheel base compared to Fortuner. But this extra wheelbase is not really creating more space inside the cabin-particularly second and 3rd rows. I think Ford's Engine bay takes more space than Fortuner, leaving less space for cabin.

The longer wheel base has a big disadvantage during off-road. In case of steep climbs or near vertical drops if the edge is sharp and drop is very steep, Endeavor can get stuck unlike Fortuner. You can watch the video below to understand what I mean, though video shows older versions of Endeavor and Fortuner. Longer wheelbase may also affect approach and departure angles a bit and makes Endeavour's turning radius (6.1 meters) a bit larger than Fortuner (5.8m)

2. Some missing features
Ford Endeavor misses on following features offered by Fortuner: Keyless entry, start/stop button, navigation. Some trims like 2x2 MT, 3.2 4x4 MT are missed (Fortuner is available in these variants). Skyrack is now hard to grip and not practical. Serves as styling purpose only.

3. Less spacious 2nd and 3rd row
Despite extra wheelbase, Ford falls short of satisfaction in second and 3rd row. Fortuner seems be made keeping in mind politicians and businessmen who would sit and relax in the middle row than the driver's seat. So if you prefer passenger comfort more than drivers', Fortuner is probably better suited. Reaching 3rd row is easier in Fortuner, 3rd row in fortuner reclines also giving more space

Fortuner is also available in petrol avatar now, aimed mostly at NCR market.

Overall I liked the short time I spent with the new Ford Endeavour. Hope to plan some longer trips in future. It costs about 7500 Rs a day to rent from Zoomcar. I could only afford to rent it for 4 hours (minimum required rental duration). I couldn't check the fuel economy during my short drive, but I am sure it will be around 7-10 kmpl.

Similar; Tata Hexa Off road abilities (Chennai) * Landrover Experince * Terratigers offroad adventure *  Tata Hexa review * Jaguar F-Pace * Tata Safari EX 4x4
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