A wombat the size of a suitcase standing in the middle of the road at night. A miscalculation that had us staying on the wrong side of the Snowy Mountains. A five-year old who insisted on having his photo taken with the Big Merino’s bum.
Yup, family road trip holidays put everybody under a bit of pressure, including the car, and a week travelling down to the snow from Sydney with a Ford Endura was a good test to see how it handled the Berrys.
The Endura was brought to Australia just in time for Christmas 2018, but still late considering the last Ford Territory rolled off the line in 2016. It’s a big five-seater SUV, and ours was the entry-grade Trend with all-wheel drive (AWD). Ford doesn’t call the Endura a replacement for the Territory, but I do.
In the review below I’ll tell you what I learnt about the Endura – from how much fuel it used and its practicality, to what it feels like to drive up mountains, on motorways, in city traffic and around car parks.
The Endura has been in dealerships for less than a year, but its styling seems familiar and possibly a little dated. That could be because the Endura has been around in the United States since 2015 where it’s called the Edge.
That said, it’s a tough and good-looking SUV thanks to the big, shiny grille, the high bonnet and more elegant touches like tail-lights and headlights which look a lot like they’ve been lifted from a Mondeo.
It’s a tough and good-looking SUV.
If you’ve owned a new Ford in the past five years the Endura’s interior will also seem familiar, particularly if you’ve driven an Everest SUV or Rangerute which have a similar touchscreen and dash layout.
Preventing the cabin styling from aging too much are modern elements like the rotary gearshift, the minimalist design to the centre console and the 10-inch display in the instrument cluster.
More premium than prestige, the Endura Trend’s cabin has cloth seats, while the ST-Line and Titanium get leather.
Trend and Titaniums have the same metallic-look grille, while the ST-Line has a black mesh one. The Trend has silver roof rails, the ST-Line has black ones and the Titanium doesn’t have them at all. The Trend and Titanium have brushed steel dual exhaust tips, while the ST-Line has chrome pipes.
What are the Endura’s dimensions? The Endura Trend is 4834mm long, 1741mm tall (with roof racks) and 1928mm wide. That’s only a matchstick longer, taller and wider than the Territory.
The Ford Endura Trend AWD lists for $48,990, but if you don’t want AWD, the front-wheel drive (FWD) version is $4000 less. The Trend is the entry grade into the Endura range and therefore the most affordable. Stepping up to the ST-Line will see you pay another $9K for the AWD.
What about the screens in the backs of the seats, which you can see in the images? Ah, yes, our test car had some options fitted. The twin DVD screens are $1600, the sunroof is $2500, and the blue metallic paint is $650. As tested, the price was $53,740, and that’s before on-road costs.
The twin DVD screens are $1600, the sunroof is $2500, and the blue metallic paint is $650.
The Endura is only available with a diesel engine in Australia, but this 2.0-litre turbocharged unit felt strong with 140kW of power and a healthy 400Nm of torque.
We covered 1320km on our round trip from our home in Sydney to Mount Crackenback via Canberra and the Endura performed well.
We were buffeted by strong winds all the way from Canberra to Crackenback and not only did the Endura feel stable and unphased by how blowy it was out there, but we could hardly any of that wind noise inside.
Same goes for the diesel engine sound – which isn’t as noisy anyway, but it’s almost blocked out altogether with the windows up.
This 2.0-litre turbocharged unit felt strong with 140kW of power and a healthy 400Nm of torque.
This is not just because of good insulation, the Endura has noise cancelling technology in the cabin which identifies the noise and generates sound waves to cancel out the rabble. A bit creepy, but it works.
One noise that the tech couldn’t cancel out was the sound of diesel sloshing around in the fuel tank. I kid you not. Regardless of how much fuel was in the tank, my wife, son and I could all hear it whenever we pulled up to a stop.
On our return, I had one of my colleagues come down to the CarsGuide HQ car park and listen for himself, and sure enough he picked up on it immediately.
To isolate the sound to the tank he even laid next to the Endura looking at the tank while I rocked the SUV gently and, yep, that’s exactly where the sloshing noise came from.
In 10 years of testing I’ve encountered the same situation a few times, and my own car does it constantly – although that is a 1951 Ford.
The transmission is an eight-speed auto and there were a couple of times when it shifted with a ‘clunk’ coming off the accelerator at lower speeds, but apart from that it was smooth and decisive in its changes.
Tell you what made me happy - a comfortable ride from the Endura.
There were times when the roads turned shocking and even then the Endura stayed composed. The roads which head into the Snowy Mountains are quite good, but at the end of the day the traffic coming down moves fast.
The Endura was caught in that nightly stampede and handled the sweeping corners and tight turns impressively.
I was also impressed by the Endura’s fuel economy. We filled up in Canberra then travelled 898km through those winds to Crackenback only to realise we wanted to see the snow at Selwyn, 140km away, which we did, then returned to Crackenback and made it all the way to Marulan before filling up again.
We calculated that we had used 6.8L/100km. That’s diesel don’t forget, and diesels are typically more economical than petrol engines.
Ford says you should get 6.7L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. We were mainly on wide-open roads but that’s still a good result considering there were mountains, gale force winds and icy roads in there.
Speaking of icy roads, when the temperature dropped below 3.0C a snowflake appeared on the instrument cluster indicating the potential for things to get slippery.
This is where AWD is vital. In NSW two-wheel drive cars need to use tyre chains in icy conditions, while AWD cars aren’t required to have them fitted. We got some anyway as I’ve been caught out in the past and have seen plenty of AWDs slide on icy roads, but we didn’t end up using them.
We didn’t do any towing but if you decide to, be aware that the Endura has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg.
We took the Endura on holiday, but we encountered plenty of everyday situations, like car parks.
We visited 17 car parks; from the ridiculously small car park at the unit we stayed at in Canberra where our tiny space was the only one between two metal poles (see the pic) to the snow-covered one at Selwyn Snow Resort, with plenty of supermarket, hotel, museum and art gallery ones in there, too.
We visited 17 car parks; including the small car park at the unit we stayed at in Canberra, where this was out only space.
Good visibility out the front and back, plus a wide-angle reversing camera and great steering meant piloting through car parks was easy.
Not counted is the car park back in Sydney where I took these photos – eight levels with narrow ramps and the Endura ran up it without any dramas.
The Endura is considered a large SUV, but it’s not enormous like a Mazda CX-9 and that makes it easier to park and wriggle through tight city streets.
I have to admit that rotary gearshift takes a bit of getting used to and doesn’t have the same easy flick from Drive to Reverse and back again that traditional upright shifter has when doing a three-point turn.
Also, a little awkward are the seats up front. These weren’t the most comfortable and supportive I’ve experienced, but they are large and accommodating.
The seats up front weren't the most comfortable and supportive I’ve experienced.
The Endura is an SUV but it’s ride height is low enough for my five-year-old son to climb in and out, while those doors are large and open wide making access for anybody easy.
Parents know the value of air vents in the back and the Endura has them, there’s also a USB port in the second row along with a 230-volt power outlet, plus another USB port up front and two 12-volt outlets in the rest of the cabin, with another in the cargo area.
Those LED headlights were magnificent. There was a moment in the wilds between Selwyn Snow Resort and Cooma that we came around a bend and a wombat the size of a suitcase was standing in the middle of the road. Those headlights picked out the hairy guy while we were still a good way off and gave me enough time to get on the brakes and swerve around him.
The answer to this depends on how you’re planning to use the SUV. I have a small family – it’s just my wife, our son and me. So, for the three of us there was room to spare in the Endura on our holiday to the snow, even with all our bags, gear, toys and food. Another child or adult would have fitted easily, along with their stuff, without feeling cramped.
The Endura’s cabin feels spacious up front, and while the rotary shifter takes getting used to, its compact design frees up space.
Rear legroom is also great and even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 40mm between my knees and the seatback. Headroom, even with that optional sunroof, is also good back there and up front.
Unlike the Ford Territory, which was available with seven seats, the Endura is a five-seater and that was fine for us, but it would almost definitely be a deal breaker if your family has three or more kids.
The Endura’s boot isn’t overly large with a cargo capacity of 603 litres (to the cargo cover), although the aperture is enormous, but I found the load lip to be quite high, and that frustrated me after a week of packing and unpacking the car nearly every day.
The Endura’s boot isn’t overly large with a cargo capacity of 603 litres.
I did like the extra storage under the boot floor around the space-saver spare wheel. That sounds dodgy but it’s clever. Take a look at the images to see what I’m on about.
Cabin storage is good with a big centre console bin, a covered dash-top area, door pockets and cupholders in the front and back.
The thing is, Sync 3 is not as intuitive to use as it could be. For example, while we were using Apple CarPlay for music my wife went to use the in-built nav, but the system kept directing her to our phone’s navigation.
We tried, but it doesn’t seem possible to use the car's nav and listen to music through Spotify at the same time.
Ford has its own media system called Sync 3.
Another functionality hurdle we faced was changing the climate control modes. Yes, there are fan speed and temperature buttons below the screen but if we wanted to heat our feet, we had to leave Apple CarPlay and our navigation and hunt for the climate controls in the Ford section of the menu.
Annoying, too was how just changing the fan speed or temperature setting obscured the entire screen. When you’re halfway through a Canberra roundabout at a giant 25C obscures your map, swear words tend to result.
Let’s move on from the multimedia system. What about the head-up display? There isn’t one. Nope, you can get one on a $40K Mazda CX-5 but not a $48K Ford Endura. These systems are great for keeping your eyes on the road especially at speed camera intersections.
Anything else? The optional screens in the back of the headrests. The DVD player kept rejecting our discs and the system refused to stream Netflix from our phone through to the entertainment system, so the headrest screens stayed blank.
I’m going to give Ford and the Endura the benefit of the doubt here and blame us for our lack of persistence to work out how to use the system, but as any parent knows – when do you have the time to read a manual? Especially when you could be building a snowman.
Wireless charging is becoming more common in all types of cars now and the Endura doesn’t offer it on any grade.
The Ford Endura Trend carried my family 1300km safely, easily and enjoyably. Yes, the media system isn’t as intuitive as it could be and there’s no third row of seats, but the Endura is spacious and practical for a small family, while not feeling large and difficult to drive.