With Ford Australia having now officially confirmed the discontinuation of the Endura large SUV (nee Edge) after just two years on sale, which model will it look to sell to families next? Well, there are several possible answers to that question.
In a statement, a Ford Australia spokesperson said: “With the expansion of the Ford SUV line-up in 2020 to include the all-new Puma and Escape, as well as our growing Everest offerings, we’ve decided to hone our SUV line-up to these three vehicles, meaning Endura will depart our Australian line-up by the end of 2020.”
That comment would suggest some Endura buyers might instead be asked to consider the smaller new-generation Escape mid-size SUV (nee Kuga), which is also a five-seater (but more on that later).
Other Endura buyers might still want a similarly sized vehicle, in which case the Everest large SUV fits the bill while offering the choice of five or seven seats as part of a range that was expanded again earlier this month.
However, unlike the monocoque Endura, the body-on-frame Everest is an off-roader by nature and not purpose-built for the urban commute like Ford Australia’s latest retiree is.
It therefore stands to reason a combination of the two might give Endura buyers the best of both worlds: a monocoque large SUV with seven seats.
Arguably, the Canadian-sourced Endura’s two shortfalls in Australia are its unavailability of a petrol engine or a seven-seat configuration, which have so far seen it concede sales to the rivalling Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9 as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.
So, does Ford have a model with all the right ingredients in its global line-up? Yes. In fact, the model in question is a version of the Edge built in China by Ford partner Changan. And guess what? It’s got a petrol engine and a seven-seat configuration.
While such a model makes a lot of sense for Australia, it’s been primarily sold in China since 2015 and is yet to make it Down Under, despite being briefly considered by Ford as the homegrown Territory large SUV’s replacement after local manufacturing ceased in 2016.
That might not be the case for the Chinese-built Edge’s eventual successor, though, as it’s expected to trade in the current model’s CD4 platform for the aforementioned Escape’s newer C2 architecture.
This likely development is significant as it opens up the possibility of a new large SUV that ticks every box, and with more key markets than just China possibly in mind this time around.
A long-wheelbase version of the Escape with seven seats is also heavily rumoured for a release within the next few years.
The idea gained even more traction late last month when Ford’s global Escape/Kuga vehicle line chief engineer, James Hughes, told Australian media, including CarsGuide, the modular C2 platform can be stretched for models longer than the box-fresh mid-size SUV.
“We did really stress the boundaries of the C2 going from what we call a low-rider, which is the Focus, into the Escape. However, the platform still has more bandwidth, and that particular platform supports more vehicles and more vehicle derivatives than just the Escape and Kuga,” he said.
For reference, other than the Escape five-seater, the C2 platform is currently used by the Focus small car, Bronco Sport small SUV and Mustang Mach-E mid-size SUV.
Mr Hughes added: “The really nice thing about the C2 platform is we’re making it modularised, so whether it’s a low-rider or high-rider, you can adjust the modules accordingly and support different top hats and different customer requirements.”
That said, a long-wheelbase version of the Escape with seven seats is also heavily rumoured for a release within the next few years, with the European-focused model expected be built at the same Valencia plant in Spain as the five-seater that entered Australian showrooms a month ago.
At the very least, the mooted seven-seat Escape and Chinese-built Edge successor should be related given the C2 architecture they’re expected to share, but the jury is still out on which one, if any, Australia will get to truly replace the Endura. As always, time will tell.