New Endura ST-Line sharpens Ford’s SUV edge
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Don’t call the new Ford mid-sized SUV by its global name, Edge, okay? Toyota owns the rights to that brand in Tasman Sea markets, and evidently wasn’t willing to loan them to the Blue Oval in the interests of model nomenclature continuity.
Instead, Ford had to dust off an old engine-family moniker, Endura, and get some new badges made for the Canadian-made Edge before launching it in our market this week.
Does the new name matter? It’s a bit of a backward step, as Edge sounds way cooler, and Endura hardly sums up the driver-pleasing dynamics of the new Hyundai Santa Fe/Kia Sorento/Volvo XC60/VW Tiguan competitor.
For as a drive, the new $73,990 Endura ST-Line is a standout new entry into New Zealand’s second-most popular new vehicle segment.
So, I can’t say I blame the Big T for raising its hackles when approached by Ford for a little co-operation with its marketing plan for the Endura.
For the 2.0 twin-turbo diesel-powered Ford offers some of the best chassis performance I’ve sampled in any SUV, including those with six-figure price tags. It’s also relatively well-equipped in ST-Line form, and looks sharp with its 20-inch alloy wheels.
The Endura is a five-seat wagon, Ford leaving the truck-based Everest to accommodate customers with seven-seat needs.
The more car-like SUV is sized more like the European SUVs that Ford hopes the Endura will be compared to rather than the slightly-larger seven-seat Asian-branded SUVs that are its natural price-point rivals.
Although the second-generation Edge has now been on sale in North America for two years, it arrives here looking tooled up, and equipment includes a power tailgate, leather/semi-suede upholstery, Ford’s SYNC III connectivity with Apple/Android cellphone projection to an 8-inch touch screen, and a acronym-laden safety locker with park assist, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking at urban speeds, blind spot monitors, lane keeping aid, hill launch assist, and a reversing camera backed up by parking sensors front and rear. Maximum towing capacity is 2000kg.
Driving the Endura from Queenstown into Mount Aspiring National Park at the western end of Lake Wakatipu, and back, gave an opportunity to sample the many talents of the new Ford.
The 154kW/450Nm 2.0litre twin-turbo diesel/six-speed automatic powertrain didn’t feel as perky as the Tiguan’s equivalent, the extra forward ratios of the Volkswagen doing a better job of processing an identical amount of driving force.
The Endura also feels a more solid vehicle on the road, a reflection of its greater mass, but it’s far from being a stolid drive.
For the rigidity and strength of the body gives a stable platform from which the steering and suspension systems can do their work, and the Endura is a frisky and agile steer on those 20-inch wheels.
Lateral weight shifts while cornering are kept in check by the sturdy stabiliser bars, and the on-road handling feels as sporty as expected of an ST-badged Ford.
Despite these road-holding enhancements, ride comfort is maintained over a wide range of vehicle speeds and driving conditions.
Even when traversing the unsealed access tracks of the national park, long lines of potholes and some eroded creek crossings did little to phase the adaptive all-wheel-drive Ford.
The ST-Line is the first arrival of an Endura model range that will progressively grow in number by the start of next year. Until then, just 300 ST-Lines are available.