Big, chunky and tough on the outside, but soft, comfortable and relaxing inside – Ford’s Endeavour
has slowly but surely carved a space for itself in our market. The Endy currently enjoys a decent market share in its class, and even sells better than its competition in some markets. Achieving this hasn’t been easy.
Its natural rival, the Toyota Fortuner has a formidable reputation in our market, and then there’s the fact that other rivals, like the Isuzu MU-X, have been trying to make inroads for some time. As a result, Ford India has always been quick on the draw when it comes updating its big boy. Updated with a facelift as recently as 2019, Ford now will also be first in line with a BS6 diesel – precisely the one we are driving today.
Now making a big, heavy, body-on-ladder-frame SUV built to take on World War III conform with BS6 emission norms is understandably difficult. And that’s precisely why Ford has slotted-in an all-new, cleaner, greener and meaner engine under the Endeavour’s hood.
Tech it out
First up, let’s look at what is different on the outside. As most of you must have guessed, very little. Still, there are a few telltale signs. The new, all-LED, twin-lamp headlights are the easiest giveaway. Quite different from the earlier lamps, these have individual elements defined very clearly, the cluster looks more current and when you need to use them at night, they illuminate the road much better too. The only other thing that’s different is the faux vent, placed vertically on the fender, where now instead of ‘3.2’ or ‘2.2’, it just says ‘Endeavour’. That apart, the car is identical to the recent facelift.
Small but potent
Lift the bonnet, however, and what you see is 100 percent new: the engine, gearbox, everything. Know internally as the ‘Panther’, this new 2.0 diesel engine is actually made in India and has been exported to other markets for some time now. Of course, it functions on a common-rail direct-injection system and a Selective Catalytic Reduction exhaust after-treatment system that uses urea injection to help lower NOx emissions. Power is a very healthy 170hp at 3,500rpm, with an even stronger peak torque of 420Nm from 1,750-2,250rpm. The engine uses a variable geometry turbo for improved low engine-speed performance, it has offset pistons that reduce side loads; and then it uses something quite unique – a belt-in-oil setup to help lower friction even further. Injection pressure is a high 2,000bar and Ford uses Piezoelectric eight-hole injectors to help deliver a uniform spray. To help air flow to the head, the engine uniquely uses a counterclockwise swirl for two of its now-aluminum pistons and a clockwise swirl for the other two.
Small 2.0-litre engine almost gets lost in massive engine bay.
10 speeds, multiple shift patterns
Ford’s new automatic, apart from having 10 gears, has plenty of unique features. A regular automatic with real gears (and not a CVT, as some would imagine) it uses real-time adaptive algorithms that allow it to skip gears when in a hurry. It can, for example, shift from 7th to 3rd should you need to accelerate hard, and then, when it senses you’ve reached the speed you want to cruise at, it shifts up from say 5th to 8th. It sometimes also chooses to skip or alternate gears, both on the way up and down. This allows the engineers to make the best use of the motor’s torque; as again, it saves time. Progressive Range Selection even lets you to lock-out gears, so the vehicle doesn’t shift up when it isn’t required, such as when you are off-road.
On the prowl
Fire-up the diesel and all the work that has gone into making this engine more refined is evident right away. For starters, it feels more like a refined sedan engine than a big bulky SUV motor. It is clearly more silent, there’s less of a buzz underfoot, and what feels good is that there isn’t too much clatter when you put your foot down on the accelerator.
Hooking up the engine with the wheels and the drive shafts is an all-new 10-speed automatic gearbox, and this feels quicker on the draw as well. There’s a greater sense of urgency when you accelerate out and power seems to flow more seamlessly. Yes, there is some slur and the gearbox still sucks up some power initially, but cross 1,800rpm and you get gently pushed in the back by a wall of torque that seems totally disproportionate to the size of the engine. Needless to say, this feels great and gives the new Endy an air of effortlessness. Press down a bit harder and it gathers pace nicely too. Cross 3,500rpm, however, and power and torque slope off; and then the engine feels strained and loud. So, this one’s best work is done early on in the powerband. That is why it’s best to allow the gearbox to shift up early and ride or surf the torque curve as it comes crashing over. What helps you remain in that narrow part of the powerband is the 10-speed gearbox.
10-speed auto is slick and smooth.
However, while the new 2.0-litre Endy is quite vocal at high engine speeds, it’s no slouch. Our Vbox testing gear shows it runs the 0-100 sprint in 12.75sec, and because there are 10 gear ratios to play with, the rate of acceleration sustains for long after. What you do miss, however, are paddles that allow you to select gears manually. The new Endy only gets a fiddly gear-lever-mounted, thumb-operated switch that lets you select gears manually with the help of ‘+’ or ‘-’.
Ride is improved though, and considerably so. Now more supple and silent in operation, especially at the front, the Endeavour 2.0 can be driven even over some of the worst roads in India without a care in the world. The big tyres and long-travel suspension soak up the roads silently and without noticeable movement of the cabin. And what makes it so much better than the outgoing Endy is that the suspension works in near silence. Also impressive is stability at speed, despite the slightly softer setup. Lending even more confidence here is the fact that the brakes have a good amount of feel, essential on a vehicle of this size.
It feels effortless to drive, but flat-out performance is par for the course.
However, it isn’t nearly as agile as the outgoing Endy. Steering responses seem slightly more relaxed, it isn’t as eager to dive into corners as the earlier model, and though body control is almost as good, the new Endy clearly feels less willing to change direction. That said, it still feels very neat and tidy through corners, and quite entertaining in its own right.
Ford Pass now brings connected tech to Ford cars. Endy 2.0 will be the first one.
Also new on the Endeavour is carmaker’s connected-car app, known as Ford Pass. You can start the car remotely, switch the cooling on, locate your vehicle, and the suite of 55 new features will allow you to use all manner of vehicle data to your advantage.
Apart from the new gear lever, the Endeavour is almost identical on the inside. The high-quality build of the dash helps separate it from other big SUVs in its class, the quality of leather and materials used here is still a step up from rivals, and then what makes it a favourite with owners is that comfort and space in the second row are really good.
Size isn't everything
More refined and effortless to drive at low and medium speeds, more comfortable over bad roads, and almost certainly a good deal more efficient, Ford’s new 2.0 Endy is a step up over the earlier one in many areas. Even the new 10-speed gearbox is an improvement.
Yes, a bit more performance would have been nice, and a dash of refinement at higher engine speeds would have gone down well too, but with Ford hinting that prices aren’t likely to be a lot higher that the earlier 2.2, the new Endeavour looks all set to hold on to its share in the full-sized, traditional body-on-frame SUV market.
*Performance figures not to Autocar test standards.
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