Ford Territory owners have been searching for a genuine replacement for the Australian-made seven-seater since it went out of production in 2016.
But what about the Territory's pseudo showroom replacement, the Endura?
To be fair to Ford, the big SUV, as illustrated by our 2020 Ford Endura ST-Line, was never meant to be a direct replacement for the Territory. Instead, Ford hedged its bets, hoping the heavy-duty Everest four-wheel drive would appeal to the seven-seater market and the Endura would appeal to those who wanted a car-like, family SUV with only five seats.
Unfortunately, with these two models, Ford fired a couple of arrows either side of the Territory and didn’t hit the target.
The Everest is not as roomy as a Territory and drives like an off-roader due to its heavy-duty underpinnings, while the Endura lacks the third row and comes with a high price.
Which possibly explains why the Ford Endura hasn’t resonated with buyers as much as the company had hoped. The model has already been pulled from the UK (where it is called the Ford Edge) and its future in Australia remains unclear.
However, numerous overseas reports claim Ford is poised to end production of right-hand drive at the Canada factory that manufactures this vehicle.
To end its production run two years after it began is not how this story was meant to play out. Car companies try to get at least five or six years – or more – out of each model to amortise the costs over a longer period of time.
In many regards, we were lucky to get the Ford Endura in the first place. Ford’s head honchos in Dearborn took a punt by investing millions to accommodate a right-hand-drive version of the Endura.
Unfortunately, it seems that investment would have been better directed towards a right-hand-drive version of the Ford Explorer.
The latest Ford Explorer is a good-looking truck, is available with seven seats – and has global recognition. Aussies who travel already know what a Ford Explorer is; many have rented one when on holidays in the US.
While it’s too late to get the Ford Explorer that is in US showrooms today, keep your fingers crossed the next-generation Ford platform is flexible enough to easily accommodate right-hand drive.
Please, Ford, don’t give up on us because the Endura hasn’t worked. If Ford were to roll the dice on one more right-hand-drive large SUV, the Explorer would be a hit.
|2020 Ford Endura ST-Line|
|Engine||2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder|
|Power and torque||140kW @ 3500rpm, 400Nm @ 2000rpm to 3000rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel-drive (all-wheel-drive optional)|
|Kerb weight||1976kg to 2077kg|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||6.7L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||10L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||800L / 1847L|
|Turning circle||11.9 metres|
|ANCAP safety rating||5 stars (tested 2016)|
|Warranty||5 years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Sante Fe, Kia Sorento|
In the meantime, Ford Australia is soldiering on with the Endura. This model went on sale in November 2018 and is barely two years old. There are three models in the range: the base-model Trend, mid-range ST-Line (tested here) and flagship Titanium.
All three models are powered by the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel (140kW/400Nm) paired to an eight-speed automatic – and available with the choice of front-drive and all-wheel drive. The fuel economy rating label claim is 6.7L/100km for both variants (we averaged 10.0L/100km in a mix of city and inter-urban driving).
According to Ford’s price guide, the Endura starts from $44,990 plus on-road costs for the Trend front-drive, and climbs to $67,990 plus on-road costs for the Titanium all-wheel drive.
We are testing the 2020 Ford Endura ST-Line front-drive, which while priced from $53,990 before options and on-road costs, is currently offered from $52,990 drive-away, depending on stamp duty and registration charges in each state and territory.
These prices position the Ford Endura among the top-end seven-seaters in its mainstream peers. But it’s smaller and only a five-seater. At this price, it’s a big ask.
There are signs Ford is getting the message on price. For example, the base-model Ford Endura Trend was being advertised for $43,990 drive-away as this article was published – and came with three years of free scheduled servicing. The savings amount to about $5000 all told.
Standard equipment on the ST-Line includes 20-inch alloys (instead of 18s on the Trend), an ST-Line sports body kit, power tailgate (with a foot-swing motion sensor), black roof rails, power-folding side mirrors, 10-way electric adjustment in the driver’s seat (with memory function), heated and cooled front seats, and mood lighting in the cabin at night. A panoramic sunroof and a 12-speaker premium audio system are optional, while a nine-speaker sound system is standard.
The infotainment includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio, and embedded navigation. A digital speed display is located between two dials in the instrument cluster.
Safety aids include seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, radar cruise control, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, and seatbelt reminders for all five seats.
However, blind-zone warning and rear cross-traffic alert are only available on the most expensive Titanium variants. Given the importance of safety in driveways and shopping centre car parks, this tech is conspicuous by its absence, especially at this pricepoint.
|2020 Ford Endura ST-Line|
|Length / width / height / wheelbase (mm)||4796 / 1928 / 1736 / 2849|
|tow rating braked, unbraked (kg)||2000 / 750|
Towing capacity is 2000kg, which is par for the class, though less than the 2700kg capability of the Ford Territory diesel.
Warranty is five years/unlimited kilometres and service intervals are 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first.
Capped-price servicing over five years is among the cheapest for this type of vehicle and costs $1746 ($299, $299, $449, $299, $400), plus you have access to Ford’s free loan car program.
On the road
The Ford Endura has a roomy cabin, and the clean dash design adds to the feeling of space. The lack of a gear lever – replaced by a round dial – gives it a modern look, though it takes a while to get used to this arrangement. There’s something reassuring about a lever, which seems to engage quicker and more assertively than an electronic dial.
The instrument cluster has a large, clear display, and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen looks like it came out of the last series of Ford Territory SUVs, such is the nature of Ford’s shared global technology.
Helpfully, there are central locking buttons in both front doors, so the front seat passenger can lock and unlock the car if the driver has ducked out quickly to grab something. However, annoyingly, these buttons lack the tiny LED that lets you know when the doors are locked (a handy feature on a similar switch in the Ford Ranger).
The centre console is so huge it could almost double as a swimming pool. A covered cubby in the lower dash houses two USB ports, either of which can be used to connect your smartphone to the infotainment system.
There are air vents to the rear seats, and a 12V power socket alongside a 230V household power socket at the bottom of the centre console for back seat passengers.
The power window switches on all four doors are one-touch auto up and down – on most rivals only the driver has this convenience.
There is good adjustment in the driver’s seat – as well as height and reach steering – so it’s easy to get comfortable.
There is ample room in the back seat, with two ISOFIX child seat mounts and three top tether points, so an old-school kid seat can be fitted in the centre position. As has been well documented, there is no third row available on the Endura.
The cargo space has a 12V power socket and a wider load area than many rivals. The 800L capacity is generous and bigger than most seven-seaters, largely because the Endura doesn’t need to tuck away a third row of seats (although for measures to the roof, not the tops of the seats as with most rivals). A space-saver spare wheel with tyre is standard.
With the back seats folded, the Endura’s cargo hold grows to 1847L – not far off some of its larger seven-seater rivals.
Once on the move, the Endura makes good use of its 2.0-litre turbo diesel, which is well matched to the eight-speed auto. The engine ticks over at a low 1500rpm at 100km/h, which helps deliver good open-road fuel economy. On our around-town run, though, we averaged closer to 10.0L/100km and above, which is fair for a car of this size and weight (about 2000kg).
The auto shifts smoothly and intuitively, and the steering is light and easy, though not as precise or as well weighted as the Ford Territory, which would still outclass many newer rivals.
Same goes for ride comfort. The Ford Territory had a brilliant blend of comfort over bumps and confidence in corners. The Endura ST-Line on its 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres feels a bit cumbersome in corners, and the ride isn’t as magic as you’d expect from a car of this price tag.
It’s not meant to be a race car, or a Rolls-Royce, but even by modern SUV standards the Endura feels average to drive rather than being a stand-out. It doesn’t live up to the ST name, which is Ford shorthand for handling and performance.
Be sure to take it on a decent test drive, preferably on roads you know, to find out if you’ll feel at home with this car.
And finally, this may sound like an unusual observation, but we wanted to point out that you can hear the fuel sloshing around in the tank beneath the cabin floor. I’ve never heard this in a car before. It’s not a deal-breaker, but if you’re wondering what that noise is, we’ve solved the mystery for you.