Not many car drivers can claim to see eye-to-eye with a bus driver, but that’s the first thing that’ll elate your on-road confidence when you get into the gigantic Ford Endeavour. Climbing two steps up to get into the swanky, redesigned cabin, there is no hiding the fact that this is a vehicle that is borderline consumer and more business-like. If you’re business is doing the rounds of your coal mine that is.
The dashboard gets a complete overhaul and is now dominated by an 8in touchscreen that uses the Ford Sync 2 at its heart which allows you to control music, climate settings, phone and text-read outs, all by short pressing on the steering-mounted Voice Assistant button. A longer press activates Siri from your iPhone, should you wish to give Sync 2 a break. It works well once you get used to the preordained language used for the commands since it isn’t very natural.
Climate control and music works well, but getting to dial the right contact from your phone book is a challenge, unless their name starts with Jon and ends with Snow. Siri comes to the rescue but she also comes with an attitude, making the whole voice control suite a bit of a hit and a bit of a miss. It’s not something you can’t live without, not just yet.
Compounded by a slightly sluggish touchscreen interface that takes a couple of seconds to load up the next screen, we aren’t huge fans of the Sync 2 but there is a lot of potential and the good news is, Sync 3 is already being rolled out in new international Ford models. Music can be played through a myriad of sources such as Bluetooth, SD card, USB
With great power comes great...power?
But getting busy behind the tech isn’t the reason why you buy a big, burly SUV. Do you? It’s confusing these days, so we’ll just move on to it’s real strength... crushing power. Power to crush and crunch over any terrain.
There’s no “almost” here. It really does obliterate the competition in its price range and a segment above. With a Land Rover-ish Terrain Management System, it lets you dial in the different systems so they’re optimised for Sand, Snow or Rock terrains. With lockable front and rear differentials, low-range mode and traction control, it may just be the world’s largest mountain goat!
Don't just be a city head..
If you plan to stay more on tarmac than off it, the plushness of the seats and the interior would be more appreciated. Details like the double stitched leather dash-top, matt aluminium trim inserts and the chunky steering wheel with more controls than a Ferrari 488, prove that Ford is indeed trying hard and succeeding at keeping up with the luxury brands in this segment.
The instrument cluster has two smaller screens flanking a big speedometer that show information relating to media/phone and vehicle settings on each side. As a full-sized 7-seater, the third row of seats are conveniently folded up and down electrically and ensures all passengers are held in comfort and safety. Active noise cancellation compares external noise with signals picked up by microphones placed inside the cabin and generate an opposite signal to cancel out the unwanted noise.
The 3.2 Titanium variant we’re driving is also equipped with seven airbags, all the way till the third row. A massive panoramic sunroof opens up the greenhouse and along with the high-seated driving position, it feels like you’re in charge of an earth-mover!
It lives up to its size and specs
The powerful 3.2-litre diesel engine is tuned for torque more than outright acceleration and for the better. With 197bhp and 470Nm of torque on tap, it makes the most of its Hill Launch Assist and Descent controls, making mincemeat out of treacherous slopes. Mash your foot down and it takes a couple of seconds for the big Endeavour to get its bearings and then it lunges forward with all the drive of a locomotive.
Sure, you can feel the 2-plus tons of kerb weight putting the brakes under pressure, but you won’t really need to slow down for much on the road. Potholes and broken roads seem like a crude joke and the passengers barely even notice the speed breaker that was. Steering accuracy and weight isn't the focus here but surprisingly, the big Ford wraps itself around you after a couple of hours of driving around town and you can potter around feeling like a king quickly.
On the open highway, the larger of the two engines stretches its legs and makes for an effortless drive, giving a sensation of floating on the proverbial magic carpet. Even body roll is well controlled for a vehicle its size, thanks to some clever tech like Pull-Drift Compensation that takes into account crosswinds and camber changes on the road to make slight adjustments to the steering input.
The semi-automated park assist works well by finding a slot large enough to park itself and then gives you visual cues on the screen regarding throttle and brake control. It is quite a sight to see the steering move itself deftly while you gaze in wonderment but this technology is becoming standard fare in premium cars and is a boon to have in an SUV of this size.
Ford Endeavour Verdict
Practicality and convenience are the top draws with the Ford Endeavour. Owners may not indulge in much of mud play but its benefits are felt even on our battle-scarred urbanscape. You just have to time your overtaking manoeuvres if you’re into dashing between red lights since the turbo lag can be pronounced during hard acceleration and the engine sounds more industrial than consumer, but it does pamper you with a ride that is supple and comfortable along with a commanding, all-conquering capability that lives up to the view from the windscreen.
Decide to take it off the beaten path and it will shock and surprise with more wading depth and better departure and approach angles than established luxury SUVs, whilst seriously undercutting their sticker price.