As I complete one full year with the dream car or as I call it "the beast" or "Raakshas", I thought of writing a 1 year review of the beast so that anyone who is considering buying this mean machine, knows what to expect and what not, what are the good things and what are the short-comings etc. Also this would help people to understand the full capability of the machine as I've almost tried and tested almost every feature by now. So let me start with a summary of 1 year ownership
One year summary and experience
I'm EXTREMELY HAPPY with the purchase and really think it has surpassed most of the expectations I had. Be it off-roading, city drives, highway drives or desert drives :) it has kept me happy and always made me smile. The more I drive it now, the more I love the beast.
Over the last year I have driven the beast for almost 17k kms, driving over almost all the terrains like Mountains, Sand dunes, trails with Mud, Slush, Rocks, Gravel, Grass and what not. I have been looking for opportunities to take the beast everywhere and whenever I got the opportunity, just packed the stuff and hit the roads or un-roads.
In last 1 year of driving this beast, here are some of the positives about the beast
Top rated features and my views in different driving conditions
I feel that Endeavour is the most comfortable car.. sorry SUV so far I've driven and irrespective of the terrain, it always keeps you comfortable. I majorly do highway drives and it drives like butter smooth on most of the highways. When you go on some bad patches also, you don't feel the bumps too much and just glide over them. I was really impressed with the ability to go over the rumblers without stopping or slowing down and without feeling much bumps inside the cabin. I have a backache (slip disk) problem and the driving comfort was one of my core criteria before I bought this vehicle. and I’m happy to say that this has not let me down. Really impressive!
One more aspect of highway driving is the high speed stability and cornering. I've tried running the beast at the speeds upto 170kmph and it was rock solid and felt very much in control .. of course i didn't swivel it or tried any sharp manoeuvres but bypassing and overtaking at that speed was just piece of cake with full control of the vehicle. Once I had to do a high speed manoeuvre to avoid a sudden truck lane changing and the beast obliged with full control. I was at around 130 mph at that moment and felt in full confidence.
High speed braking - Once I was driving around 120-130 kph and a minister convoy just came from behind at higher speeds and the convoy vehicles just abruptly crossed our path and came in front where I literally had to almost drop the speed to 50-60 suddenly BUT the vehicle was in full control and maintained a single line while I braked. Stupid fellows didn't let us pass for almost 20-30 kms and I was tailing them at almost 120-130 kph speeds before I got an opportunity to overtake and did at almost 150+ :) :) leaving them stare me but then I was gone in no time.. One more instance just happened in last trip is when a biker suddenly came in front after taking a U-turn at a median and I had to really brake hard to save him.. it was very close but then the vehicle came to a halt almost in 4-5 secs from 130 to 20-30kmph without any problems. So far the beast has always performed well on highways and have kept me safe and sound and happy :) The brakes are sharp enough to stop but sometimes I feel the feedback could be a little bit more crisper .. nevertheless it works well and keep you safe.
Well, I just love this feature and really use it whenever I get a chance on highways or where there are strict road speed limits enforced like the outer ring road in Bangalore where the speed limit is merely 50kmph .. seriously its very hard to drive the beast at 50 as you feel like you're crawling and then its difficult to know hen you cross 70-80 or even 100 as you don't feel the speed inside the cabin. So the best is to put it on cruise and sit, relax and enjoy the ship sailing ...
The cruise control really helps in long drives and I'm really used to the buttons now so its piece of cake. Just set the speed and sail... The buttons are hard with a solid feel to it and no where they miss the response. When you set it to cruise, the control is taken over by the vehicle and when you press the brake (yes even slightest touch) it gives back the control. I used to think that it might be risky if it won't give back the control but thats not the case EVER.. its immediate response. When you press RESUME after taking back the control to a preset limit, it takes the control and slowly and gradually accelerates to that speed.. simple!
Well I live in one of the most busiest cities, our namma Benguluru and the traffic on the roads here ensures that I get the most of my investment and enjoy my drive every time I take the beast on the road... it keeps me comfortable helping me enjoy the ride, the music, the chilling AC and also the excellent view from the first floor :) HA HA.. but seriously yes the beast is so comfortable inside that driving it in city or highways or anywhere is fun.
The steering being electronic doesn't get you tired and manoeuvres easily, the crawling feature is good for city bumper-to-bumper crawls at the signals and the proximity sensors keeps you safe from the thousands of auto wallaas or cabbies who come and pretend to hug and kiss you on the roads :) In this maddening traffic, the beast moves with confidence, slowly and steadily to find a road where it can unleash its power and use the muscle to get you where you want to go in no time. I love every moment I spend in the beast now, just open the sunroof and feel the stars above you while you crawl in the traffic ...
Off-roading with Terrain Management System (TMS)
I've taken the beast for some serious off-roading and some soft-roading as well and it performs very well. The 3.2 engine is powerful enough to pull through any terrain you throw at it. I've used different modes provided (through terrain management feature) and they somehow perform pretty well but it took me sometime to learn where to use them.
The mud, grass and sand mode is what I've used in many cases and have always been more than happy with it. The vehicle holds the terrain very well and doesn't slip here and there and also the throttle response is balanced what you might need in muddy and slushy terrain. At some of the places where you're not sure if you want to use mud mode or normal, its so easy to switch between the modes by just turning the knob and you're all done!
Rock-mode! and as the name suggests this is a great mode to crawl over any rock or extremely rough terrain. I've used it to clip over big rocks and when the trails were extremely slippery and rocky and may have loose gravel.. the rock mode helps a lot and makes you just glide over anything that comes underneath it. One expectation setting I had to do with the vehicle is in the ground clearance .. I mean the ground clearance is pretty good and the best in this class of vehicles but for a serious off-roading you might want a bit more or ill have to remove the side-steps as when you go over some some rocky terrain, they can hit on the ground like it happened to me couple of times. You have to be really cautious or be ready to take those its (like I'm now) if you want to do off-roading on rocky riverbeds or terrain.
At one occasion, as we were driving on a rocky mud trail, the right front tyre went into a ditch and as it was raining heavily, it was slushy and the tires had very less friction. I tried reversing the vehicle so it comes out of the ditch but the tyres started slipping. I immediately realised that I need to se the rock mode with differential lock and that might help coming out of the situation and voila.. as I used the rock mode the vehicle came out of the ditch in one go.. so slippages.. no tantrums .. no sliding.. just was in total control. That was the first instance where I realised the power of rock mode and had a BIG smile on my face and my Heart :)
For using Rock mode, you need to bring the vehicle in Neutral, then press the 4x4 button and turn the dial to Rock mode and you're all set. Sometimes the system asks you to move a bit forward when it fails to engage may be because of the gear positioning but thats no big hassle. TO turn back to normal mode, you need to stop, engage into neutral and then turn the dial to normal mode. The performance in rock-mode is seriously commendable and inspite of the weight of the vehicle, it just pulls and goes over anything even if its 35-40 degree inclined.. seriously impressed on this!
Sand mode - now this is one mode I've not used it extensively but got a chance to use it in one of the slushy situations where the ground was extremely slushy and loose but flat with grass and loads of water. It was seriously fun driving on the surface and gave me a chance to do drifts. First I tried with Mud and Grass mode but the vehicle was not drifting and was trying to maintain the track and I could feel the traction control working so I switched to sand mode and here comes the wheel spin .. which I was expecting. That was fun to drive seriously and had lot of fun doing those drifts in an SUV :)
The second chance I got to use the sand mode was on a trip to Rajasthan - Jaisalmer. Infact I made that trip to Jaisalmer from Bangalore just to try out that mode :) yes really wanted to drive on sand dunes and see how the vehicle would perform and it didn't let me down. Of-course vehicle is equipped with loads of technology to help you help you drive on dunes with sand mode ON but its not that simple. .you need to know the trick and the tact on how to drive in the dunes. We tried for the first time in my life and after one failed attempt, we were good to drive on the dunes and have some fun. Though we didn't venture into the dunes too deep 'coz of lack of time and the group priorities were different :( but I loved whatever chance I got. I will definitely return to the dunes someday and do the great grand dune drives again just because they're FUN!
Some pics from the sand dunes of Jaisalmer
Hill Descent Control (HDC)
This is seriously a SUPER feature and I just LOVE it. Hill descent helps you drive the vehicle on slopes with a steady pace controlling the speed to what you're comfortable with and maintains momentum of the vehicle without you having to press brake pedal for controlling the vehicle which is sometimes very tiring and risky as well when on slushy, rocky or narrow steep slippery slopes. I just love this feature and use it extensively. The vehicle makes some kind of grunting sounds when hill descent control is engaged and gives good feedback to you. The brake pedal becomes very sensitive and responsive during this time and even a slightest touch will lead the vehicle to complete stop with a jerk sometimes.. this is very confidence inspiring and helps you to have full confidence on your vehicle while on the off-road risky trails. So try this one if you haven't and you'll love it! Only remember that it is recommended to have the speed below 35kmph while using HDC.
Other features I just love ...
Sunroof/Moonroof - Love the ambience of the cabin when you open the sunroof. The cool breeze and wind just is a great experience. My kids love it and use it extensively when we go for off-city drives. I would have loved it to have it open all the way to the back :)
Auto winding of Windows and Sun-roof - I just love this feature and use it mostly every time I can. Its the coolest feature I guess and pretty functional too. On our recent holiday, as we were sitting in our cottage and were about to leave in 30-40 mins for a drive, we just opened the windows and sunroof by pressing the buttons on the remote and the car was totally ventilated by the time we came for the drive. This is really a very nice feature when you're in the sight of your vehicle and want the hot air to escape before you drive off.
Features I would love to use often
Semi-automatic parking assist - Like this feature but the problem is it needs two cars parked parallel and a slot in-between which is very very rare to find in Bangalore.. hence even though I would want to, you cannot use this often or everywhere. Some places where I find the right setup for the parallel parking, I try to use this and it has never failed me. The only scary part is that it gets too close to the vehicle while cutting it into the slot and the speed is pretty fast which scares me .. few times I've taken back the control and did it myself :( I know it would have done it right.. but I was very cautious :))
Some of the serene places we enjoyed with the beast
Areas of Improvement
Seat belt positioning - the seat belt end is on the bottom right and left centre pillar and the passengers sitting on the middle rows tends to step on to the seat belt making it very uncomfortable for driver or front passenger as it tightens the seal belt when you step on to it. I wish For fixes this somehow and its very annoying.
Air-vents - The air vents located on the roof close by themselves when the blower is on Max speed. Sometimes when kids feel very hot, they switch on the blower at highest speed and that leads to automatic closure of these vents .. not sure if this is an additional feature :)
Back row seating - back row seats are OK as far as short drives are concerned but when it comes to long drives, they could have been a bit more thicker and comfortable. Right now they're too skinny I guess and not very well cushioned.
Head-Lights - Now this is where I really feel that the beast is less equipped. I really feel sometimes specially on highways that I need more light and more intensity in the light. It just feels inadequate and sometimes feels very uncomfortable using the dipper. Hence, I use the upper beam whenever I feel inadequate and its safe to use as in when the opposite side traffic is not there. But this is seriously a big issue and I'm seriously considering an upgrade but not done so far because of warranty issues. I understand that if we upgrade the bulbs to higher voltage, Ford will void the warranty :( I hope Ford does something about this ad provide a solution.
Visibility during off-roading - Well I don’t know if this is an area of improvement or my height issue, but I would prefer a little lower bonnet height so that during the off-roading trips, we have better visibility of the trail ahead specifically when you’re on an incline and then you have a decline or a drop immediately and you don’t see anything ahead... I know you always need a spotter for this but I feel that it would have helped if the large and long bonnet could have been a little shorter.
Wing Mirrors should have been auto-folding. It is very inconvenient to do them manually always and most of the times I forget it. I wish there was a way to upgrade this feature.
GPS Navigation - I'm one of the customer who got the SYNC 3 system without the Navigation in it as I bought it in March 2017 and they released the model with Navigation only in April 2017. I'm not sure if I can upgrade this to support Navigation now but for new customers, it is now available as DEFAULT.
So far the beast has been behaving properly and I've not had any major problems with it. Even after driving for 7k+ kms over rough roads, pot holes, craters of bangalore roads and over rocks the vehicle is rock solid with no squeaks or rattling sounds from anywhere.
Horn pad being hard and then conked off
Yes, the only part that has failed on the beast so far is the horn pad. The upper right contact point was a little hard after one month of the vehicle delivery and complained to the service station guys when i went for 2.5k service and they told me its fine. This continued for sometime and one fine day in about 3m time, the horn pad stopped working. I escalated the matter to the Ford company and immediately got an assurance that it will be replaced under warranty. after about few weeks time, the horn pad was replaced and now its been working fine since then.
Service and maintenance
Now this is one area where I really think Ford has a long way to go. I mean compared to other car brands like Hyundai that I own, Ford is far more inferior in terms of overall customer satisfaction. The total experience of servicing the vehicle needs to improve right from the car collection to delivery, its all broken and the don't care attitude prevails killing the brand. I've gone to service station couple of times now and never had a very pleasant experience.. maybe I'm a high expectation customer but then they never learn and have never been able to satisfy me. Some of my experiences I've shared in my earlier blog post .. you may check it here
Well, this is something what I'm happy about so far as it is really low. I was very much worried before the purchase as everybody I spoke to regarding purchasing a Ford assured me that the service costs will be high to very high but I just went ahead and still bought it thinking that it will be too bad not to buy this as there was no other option I had as I never liked Fortuner or Pajero or any other competitive SUV. So far I must say that I've not sent more than 5k on this tin 1 yr.
The number of visits for service/issues and the costs so far has been like below
1st Visit - 1st Service Cost - Rs. 0
2nd Visit - Some issue with Horn pad and Squeeking sounds from the speakers
3rd Visit - 2nd Second Service (10k) - Rs. 2700 (got it done at 9k kms)
4th Visit - Horn pad issue diagnosis - Rs 0 (only wasted time = money)
5th Visit - Got the horn pad changed - Rs. 0 (only wasted time = money)
6th Visit - to get the wheel alignment done and change the air filter - Rs. 4.5k (Software downgrade was done free of cost :( read below...)
7th Visit - will be for 20k service now due in few weeks
Some instances of misses and poor service levels
System update - I asked for my Sync system to be updated from version 2.3 to 3.0 and they downgraded to 2.2 :( Seriously, my fuse blew off but as I had spent almost full day for a 2hr job I went for, had to chase and remind them multiple time for upgrading the sync system and then I had no patience to fight with them and decided to get it upgraded next time. I mean this is just the careless attitude issue and clearly shows how they are operating without any attention to detail in the work they do.
After returning from the long Rajasthan trip, the right front wheel was off by couple of degrees I guess as I noticed it when I went for fixing the puncture. When I went to the Ford ASS, they fixed it but instead of promised 1.5 to 2hrs, took almost half a day. This is seriously not acceptable behaviour wasting customers' time.
Cleanliness of vehicles ready for delivery
This is my serious issue right from 1st service that every time they deliver the vehicle once it is serviced, it is always in a pathetic condition in terms of cleanliness. Look at the picture above and see the grease on the seats.. I have to always call the service manger, show him the seats and ask them to clean it :( Seems like they're too lazy or don't care about how the vehicle needs to be delivered to customer. Ford has a long way to go on this..
Experience I won't forget and really THANKFUL to the dealer
Just one night before I was starting for the long drive trip to Rajasthan, the battery died as I was busy preparing the beast for the drive and the music and cabin lights were on for almost 2hrs continuously. the music system had shut down couple of times in between but I switched it on again thinking that it will be fine. To my horrific surprise the battery died completely in couple of hours and the beast didn't wanted to start at all. I was really disturbed and worried as our trip was supposed to start next morning at 5am and it was around 6pm already. I tried jump starting it couple of times with other car battery but that did not help either. Then I called up my Service Advisor at Metro Ford and asked him to help and told him about the situation. He immediately sent a person from ERS and assured me that it will be fixed. The guy came on a bike with some battery and tried jump starting the beast BUT the best just ignored all his efforts and left me further worried..
The Mr. Kaushik (SA) sent a person from his workshop with another Ford Endeavour battery, used that to start the vehicle and while it was already started, fixed my battery and told me to keep it running for 2hrs at least else it might die again. This was the only solution to fix this so I sat in the car for almost 2 hours in basement without AC and with all the blood sucking mosquitos. Finally after running the car on idle for 2hrs
In my last 17k kms driving, I must say that I'm very very HAPPY with the beast and would anyday recommend the vehicle to any person looking to buy it. Endeavour is certainly a good choice if you like to drive and go on long drives. Its a beautiful long distance cruiser and a very very capable off-roader. If you want a no hassle SUV with a lot of technology and features embedded into it, just go for it.