The new Ford Endeavour is built like an unforgiving bully, but has a soft corner for its passengers, finds SHAPUR KOTWAL

What do you look for in a friend? Unyielding strength, unflappable dependability and consistent, reliable behaviour. And these are qualities you can attribute to Ford's big toughie - the Endeavour (or Everest, as it's badged in Thailand).

Ringside view

The new Endeavour is seventy five per cent new, but its basic dimensions are very similar to the car that is currently sold here. Built on an identical wheelbase, this SUV is intimidating, with its big cowl and muscular flanks and massive dimensions. It looks tough enough to run through walls, and the way it is built makes you wonder whether it could too. To complete that muscled look, Ford has given the Endeavour big, chunky, wheel-arches, as well as the larger, 16-inch rims. The rear doesn't look all that new though as it is similar to the current car.

Inside information

Ford has also updated interiors to go with the Endeavour's new look. There is a new instrument panel, the dash is now done in two shades and there is wood trim as well. It looks more luxurious for sure and you don't get the feeling you are sitting in an off-roader. The silver central console, however, is too garish and not too attractive. The seats and seating on the Ford remain the same, which means a lot of space overall, but low second row seats and difficult-to-get-to seats on the third row. Still, comfort levels are actually very good. A nice touch is that almost all passengers get their own aircon vent. There are also several useful cubbyholes and storage areas about if you need to put away a lot of personal clutter.

In the hood

This new Endeavour, however, has massively improved performance compared to the current car. The 2.5-litre turbo-diesel is now a common-rail diesel and as a result refinement and smoothness are decent too. Step on the throttle and a massive surge in power and hard acceleration ensues. The Ford leaps ahead in a manner that makes this very heavy vehicle feel light and athletic. A variable geometry turbo (VGT) is used for better low and high engine speed performance and new injectors allow for multiple injections per power stroke. All this results in lower noise, better emissions and better torque. The VGT system means that the Ford pulls well from low speeds as well and once the power comes in, performance is very good. This is a big improvement over the smooth and responsive, but slightly breathless, motor that powers the current Endeavour.

Ride & handling

Car-like SUVs like Honda's CR-V are built without a tough frame, but Ford still uses one on the Endeavour. And the suspension is similarly rugged too, actually derived from the Ranger light truck. Ford has improved the overall ride of the new Endeavour, and this means that bumps are better absorbed and jolts received over larger holes are reduced too. The suspension has lost its rough edges and this means you are more comfortable in the rear seat than before. For a vehicle of this size, upright dimensions and body-on-frame construction, it still handles pretty well too. The steering is nice and direct, straight-line stability is rock-solid and body roll is well under control. The brakes too do a decent job of hauling the Ford down to a halt and give you some degree of confidence while at it.The new Endeavour delivers more road presence, power and comfort too. Few vehicles are built as tough and you can expect this Mazda-Ford joint design to deliver reliable performance too - you can't beat the Japanese at reliability even today. And it will continue to appeal to those in search of a sturdy, traditional SUV with big presence. Cars are like friends. And in a friend, there are certain qualities we look for. The big Ford Endeavour has several of them and with the new motor under the hood, the new interiors and all-new looks, is all set to get a grip on prospective customers.