(The excellent Skoda Yeti 4x4 somewhere in the monsoons of Maharashtra. iPhone. Adobe Photoshop.)
I have had a Skoda Yeti for close to 7 years and then Skoda decided to call it end of line. Waiting for the Karoq was taking forever and I wanted to sell the Yeti and get something else. But what were the options? I loved the Yeti way too much and the replacement had to be as good or better.
- Jeep Compass. A fantastic SUV. The top end model had about 170 bhp and a good 4X4 system. Very good looking and excellent build quality. Unfortunately it was very close to the Yeti in terms of size and power. I wanted to go for a slight upgrade.
- Hyundai Tucson : very good car but not a true blue SUV. At the time I was looking around, I think they didn't offer a 4X4 version either.
- Skoda Kodiaq : Very well made. And a great city car. Not a true blue SUV. My old Yeti had 140 bhp engine, and the much bigger, more expensive Kodiaq has 150. Water wading is like a sedan and so is the ground clearance. Plus the folk at Skoda weren't being responsive to my queries.
- Toyota Fortuner : A very capable car but somehow I don't like it. Choosing which car to buy, at least for me, is part rational, part emotional. I have to love the car and then find reasons to justify the purchase.
- Ford Endeavour : I had extensively driven a Ford Explorer in the USA and fell in love with the car. Back home in India when I started exploring options, I was getting more and more attracted to the Ford Endeavour. Although too large for my liking, the power, torque, 4X4 system, water wading (flooding in Mumbai), the large thick wheels. I wanted to test drive one.
A few years ago, I had once driven a friend's old version of the Ford Endeavour (the one with was launched in India around 2003-2004). His car wasn't that old, just that model. It was on a highway and the drive sucked! It was really really bad. He seemed to like it. I was carrying this fear when I tried the new car, but this one is completely different.
Getting an Endy for a test drive was a task in itself. Apparently the test drive was in high demand (This was around January 2018) and the nearest dealer had only one car. I sought help of a couple of my colleagues and we continuously called for a test drive. With so many people calling following up, finally we got to test a car.
I was apprehensive about the drive quality of a car the size of a Mumbai apartment. But surprisingly Ford has done an excellent job here. The car drives almost like a sedan. Like a sedan on stilts. But still very very good. The high seating gives an excellent visibility ahead. The steering is very well configured and electrically powered so you doing feel the weight of the car, but the feel of the road and the response is amazing. The turning circle was easier than I imagined.
(I didn't want the 2 litre engine. Basically wanted a bigger upgrade over the Yeti.)
Engine: 3198 CC Diesel, 5 cyclinders Turbo
Max Power: 197 bhp @3000 rpm
Peak Torque: 470Nm @1750-2500rpm
Kerb Weight: 2394kg
Full Time All Wheel Drive
Water Wading: 800mm
- 197 bhhp engine , 470Nm of torque, 800mm of water wading. This is a very powerful and capable SUV.
- I loved the fact that it has a low-range gear option, not that I will use it everyday.
- I wanted to own and drive a classic ladder frame chassis SUV before they all become extinct.
- Very easy to drive. I was apprehensive about the size and handling, but it's superbly done. Drives very well.
- Huge size. I would have preferred something slightly smaller (in terms of length)
- Fuel consumption (actually this is better than expected) : my previous car, a Skoda Yeti would easily give me 16.5 on the highway. The Ford Endeavour can turn out 11.5 but you have to be careful with your foot on the pedal. (But again, its a much bigger engine). Keep the RPMs under 2000 and you will have good mileage.
- Built in maps have very old data with insufficient number of POIs.
- Sometimes the Sync3 system hangs when typing in an Indian name. The system goes into special characters (example : é or such), and then becomes unresponsive.
The 2018 Ford Endeavour 3.2 Titanium AT is so big, it's almost embarrassing. So I chose the grey colour, hoping it would subdue its presence. But the car has a strong personality. It stand out on its own. And its not just the size, but something about the design, the proportions, the posture. It's a no-nonsense handsome huge and capable car. And the drive is addictive.
When compared to my old Skoda Yeti 4X4, I felt the Ford was sluggish. Perhaps it's the automatic transmission. The Yeti would want to sprint forward the moment you slowly released the clutch in the first gear. The Ford needs a nudge with the accelerator, and then some more. But its pickup, despite the size, is so smooth, I often see the gap between the traffic and my car increase exponentially after a signal turns green. You don't even feel you made any effort there. Overtaking is mostly painless, though while manoeuvring such a large a tall vehicle you are reminded to be slightly, well, conservative. Climbing steep hills with under construction roads full of dust and pebble is a breeze with four full grown men chatting away inside.
Since I haven't tried the Manual Transmission in the 3.2 4X4, I can't say it could have been better. Perhaps. But years of driving have started weakening my left knee and I think I am finally happy to have an AT. And its a large body-on-frame SUV, not a sports car, so I am more than happy with the given zippiness.
(My Endy Kaur somewhere in North Maharashtra. This underpass was so narrow I wasn't sure she would pass through. But she did, and also gave a nice photo. The DRLs cannot be switched off. Shot on iPhone).
(Somewhere in rural Rajasthan on the many trips from Mumbai to Sawai Madhopur. Shot on Fujifilm X1Pro, graded (not much) with CaptureOne Pro and Affinity Photo).
(At the Tungabhadra Right Canal near Hampi, out to photograph some wildlife. Fujifilm Xpro1 and Adobe Photoshop).
(Somewhere near Hampi. iPhone).
(After a hard day's drive on country roads somewhere in Maharashtra. iPhone.)
(Rajasthan highway, winter morning. iPhone).
(Near Una in Himachal Pradesh. iPhone).
(Somewhere in Maharashtra, near Pune. iPhone).
The 2018 Ford Endeavour is built on the Ford T6 Platform developed by Ford Australia. Now, Australia has a massive stretch of off-roading land which is barely habited but is used by many industries like mining, manufacturing, energy, ranching etc. The need to have a workhorse truck in these harsh conditions which delivers for hundreds of thousands of kilometers without so much as a squeal, well almost, ensures the T6 platform is really, really tough. Ford Tough. Actually Ford Australia Tough. It is the same T6 platform on which is built the Ford Ranger, Australia's best selling pickup truck. And our very own Endeavour.
Here is a short video on how Ford tests its upcoming T7 platform for the next generation Ranger. You can expect similar testing must have gone for the current T6 platform as well.
No issues as such.
The fuel cap door got stuck once. I had to call service, they sent a mechanic on a bike who opened it for me, and I could drive it to the fuel station. Thereafter two days in the service station and they replaced the gate and its mechanism. I was happy at how smooth the process was, and I didn't have to pay since the car is still under warranty.
- Built In Navigation and Infotainment : Having experienced the Sync 3 system in the Ford Explorer USA, I was very happy with the navigation interface. It remains largely unchanged for India on the Endeavour, but the map data is very weak. I prefer to use Google Maps or MapMy India for last mile routing. But the good thing is, I can save favourite locations on the built in maps as 'Home', 'Service Station' etc. Helps.
It's a brzeeze to hook up my iPhone and use Google Maps or Apple Maps. The Sync 3 system also takes voice based commands. It can also automatically route incoming calls over the car's speaker and microphone systems. Its a great thing to have, though I must remind not to talk on the phone while driving.
(The Navigation and Infotainment display is fairly well sized and easy to see in sunlight. It auto dims at night).
(The sunroof and overhead controls are very neatly arranged. There are two reading lamps. And a space for sunglasses).
- Driving Modes: From 2000 - 2008 Ford owned Land Rover. So it is but natural, seemingly, some of the LR 4x4 features cross pollinated into the Ford T6 Platform, one way or another. Land Rover had developed something called a Terrain Response System, where complex sensors and computers work with the hardware allowing the car to smoothly drive over almost any kind of terrain. The Chief Engineer of the Ford Explorer Platform had earlier spent three years working on Range Rover as Chief Engineer.
The Ford Endeavour has a similar Terrain Management System, where a simple rotary dial controls torque/traction/power deliver to the four wheels as per the terrain selected and what the wheels actually face.
(The Terrain Management Dial with - clockwise from left - Normal, Mud and Snow, Sand and Rock Modes. The Center button is for Hill Descent Control. iPhone and Affinity Photo).
Normal mode - This mode is for on-road conditions and should be used on surfaces which are similar to hard road surfaces, or once the need for any of the off-road modes has passed.
Mud/Snow – This mode should be used where a firm surface is covered with loose or slippery material. This includes gravel, shallow mud, wet grass or snow covered road. (need to drive to the Himalayas to try this one)
Sand - This mode should be used for crossing deep sand or deep sticky mud. (Need to drive to Jaisalmer to try this one)
Rock - This mode gives low speed controllability for crawling over rocks. Low range must be selected before this mode is activated. (Have tried this in some dry rocky hills in the Sahyadris. Works very well.)
The Ford Endeavour Terrain management System also has a button for Low Range Gear Ratio. This means all 4 wheels (it's a full time 4X4) move much more slowly and have more torque available to them (in a nut shell). This means its easier to get out of soft sand, mud etc. You get more torque without having to rev the engine up like mad. This also means your speed is limited, often to around 30kmph and below, you wouldn't naturally be sprinting through such terrain. Trying to drive in higher speeds in this mode can severely damage your vehicle's drive train.
The Hill Descent System is very useful when driving down wading slopes. It automatically applies gear and brake maintaining a slow sustained descend. Sometimes when the road is smooth I choose the manual drive mode and a low gear like 1 or 2 to descend using engine braking.
The Rear Differential Lock forces both the rear wheels to spin at the same rpm and power, helping pull out the car from a sticky situation where one wheel may be slipping.
For someone who doesn't do ultra-hard-core off-roading, these features are more than enough for me.
I have driven almost 30,000 km on this car and love it. The drive is smooth. No rickety parts. Seems solid and grounded on highways and inspires confidence at high speeds as well. Road noise is low. It seems the active noise cancellation works very well. It also seems the car has built in speakers and mics so the rear passengers can hear the front seat driver/passenger clearly. Haven't explored switching this feature on and off yet.
Would highly recommend a Ford Endeavour. My only crib with the car is, I feel, the headlights are weak. I wish they were brighter. Plus the low beam and high beam bulbs have different colours. Some people have gone ahead and changed the bulbs but I want too keep them stock as long as I can. And the size. It's so big I mostly end up not driving it within Mumbai. Won't find parking anywhere. 99% of the 30,000 km is on highway trips.
Many people report being unhappy with the stock MRF Wanderer Tyres. I have had no issues with them till now. Once on a high from Udaipur to Mumbai the Multi-Function-Display (MFD) gave me a tyre pressure warning. The front left had less air. I stopped at a roadside shop with an attached Dhaba. Some air (I normally inflate till 34, the tyre has 19. It was a very rudimentary shop and I didn't want him to unmount my tyre to check) and hot cuppa chai later, we drove to Mumbai, with nom repeat of the low tyre pressure. Two days later in Mumbai I get the error again. Go to the tyre repair shop and realise it was the same tyre again, down to some 19 and had two nails in it. I am very happy with the MRFs.
What I haven't tried:
- Hard core off roading. I have drive steep hills uphill and downhill, with only a broken pebbly track for a road. And performed well. Have driven over muddy rural tracks and heavy monsoon highways. The Ford Endeavour has always performed extremely well. haven't tried sand and snow. or water wading (I am actually not a big fan of driving through natural streams and polluting the water for the eco-system. Will wait for monsoon flooding on rural roads).
- Automatic Parking Assist : Somehow never found a vacant stretch of road where I can experiment with this feature in between two cars with no impatient drivers behind me.
- Rear differential lock: haven't needed it as of now.
(I don't mind the rear of the vehicle too. Somewhere in Rajasthan, surrounded by dhonk, babool and prosopis juliflora trees. iPhone, Affinity Photo).