We drove the Ford Endeavour earlier this year and established it is extremely well behaved and benign in urban and highway environment. We did some off-road too but could not really experience the extreme levels of the rough stuff it can take. Recently Ford called us and asked if we would really like to feel what their new SUV is capable of, and how easy it is to use their AWD modes to tackle any terrain you throw at it. Rough gravel, loose sand, difficult gullies, slush, everything is here to try confuse Endeavour’s Terrain Management System (TMS).
Considering this new Ford Endeavour wears more a ball gown then cargo pants, you would think it will start wallowing lazing about on loose off-road surfaces. But it so does not! Even running on road tyres this SUV crossed all the difficult circles without breaking sweat. The system divides its capabilities into 4 modes which are selected by using a little toggle on the dash. Now this is not some fancy looking gimmick which is just put there to add to the features list. This one works really well. You have to sit and drive while we will pass suggestions from the passenger seat.
First we take you through a long stretch of loose sand is as slippery as laying talcum powder on tarmac. What usually happens is a big heavy SUV starts sinking in or just looses traction and skids about like a heavy beast of burden. No worry, just select Sand mode on the TMS and if you feel brave put your foot down. You feel that the Endeavour just keeps gliding over the stretch with ease and control. TMS has medium level of sensitivity for you as quick responses might make the tyres sink in. The transmission too becomes quick shifting down gears to keep you in the torque band all the time while you clear through. Great, you cleared the easiest bit of the track.
Next section takes you through wet grass and mud bits which are very slippery. Normally a fast entry will spin you out as there is no grip and a tiny puddle in the beginning will have you lose some steering angle. So we suggest shifting into Grass/Gravel/Snow mode and take an easy approach. Let it bump in the puddle full of wet mud and ease in the power slowly. TMS eases of throttle sensitivity and spreads the torque lower down the rpm range. This helps you slowly wade through slippery wet grass and mud with steady control.
Now there is a very deep gully in front of you where this heavy beast will cock one of its tyres. Calm self, shift to Rock mode and lock it in 4X4 low. Because of this low ratio gearbox you can drive through really difficult obstacles. This mode will not let the vehicle loose traction. Start by driving down the hillock where you lose of the horizon and you see the road right in front of you. Don’t worry about that one wheel in the air; approach angle of 30 degrees and departure of 25 degrees will allow you to go down and come up the gully with relative ease. Gently drive down and now feed in more power to climb back up at a slightly higher pace. You notice that the car manages its weight and pulls itself out without discomfort.
Yes there is an enormous pit of water in front of you now. No come and sit back on the driver’s seat, you are doing this! New Endeavour has 800mm water wading prowess with 225mm ground clearance means it will drive through without a scare. For customers needing more off road capabilities, we would suggest changing tyres but that will compromise road performance. Stay on the power and drive through the slippery slushy lake of caramel with a new paint coat on your car.
It is some exercise for a purpose built off-roader, and thanks to the hardware in the Endeavour you can actually take it off tarmac and come out happy. Shift to normal mode and drive through those chicken holes in front of you. You laugh how easily it does the dry stuff now. We are pretty sure you are satisfied with Endeavour’s performance and convinced that it can do the rough stuff. You know what, now stay in very Normal mode and complete a second lap of the circuit. At least this is what our instructor told us to do. After doing all of that mode shifting he tells us this so called glamour SUV will do all of that in Normal mode. And it did it all with similar ease without shifting modes. Now that is a capable SUV. We suggest you as Ford for a demonstration and they will be happy to have you test it yourself. It impressed us on the road, and now it is even better off it.