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Ford goes for Endura

Name game: Ford trademarked the names Endura and Equator, but elected to go with the former as its badge for the Australian version of the Edge that is due here in late 2018.

Five seats, diesel engine and a long wait for Ford’s Endura large SUV due Q4, 2018

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Ford logo14 Nov 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

FORD Australia has confirmed that its long-awaited Territory replacement will be called Endura when the large SUV – known as the Edge in other markets – finally lands in Australia as a premium niche offering in late 2018.

The company has also revealed that the Canadian-built wagon will have only five seats in a market segment where seven seats are almost universal, and will come only with a diesel engine, thought to be a 2.0-litre four-cylinder hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

As GoAuto has previously reported, Ford Australia was not able to use the Edge name in this market because Toyota – which holds the trademark for the nameplate – declined Ford’s request to use it for its new entrant that sits on the same CD4 front/all-wheel-drive platform as the Mondeo sedan.

Said to be shorthand for Endurance, the Endura badge has been borrowed from Ford’s powertrain department where it once graced a family of small engines in cars such as the Fiesta and Ka. The name continues the recent ‘E’ theme of Ford SUV nomenclature, joining Everest, Edge, Escape and EcoSport.

No pricing, range specifications or sales projections have been released, but rumours suggest a four-variant line-up starting in the mid-to-high $40k zone, placing Endura between the mid-sized Escape and Ranger-based Everest in both size and price.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said the “highly equipped” Endura reflected the dynamic motoring landscape in Australia where buyers were now “looking for more specific features and attributes in their SUVs as opposed to a one-size-fits-all solution”.

“The appetite for SUVs in this country is impressive, so we’re excited to bring a premium new offering from our global portfolio to local audiences,” he said.

Ford Australia elected to wait for the facelifted 2018 version of the second-generation Edge that is expected to break cover at the Detroit motor show in January.

The refreshed model gets cosmetic changes and mechanical tweaks, including the eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the six-speeder on the current version.

Right-hand drive production of the refreshed model will not come on stream until the second half of next year, meaning a long wait for Ford dealers who have watched their share of the Australian SUV market slump to just 2.9 per cent since the demise of the locally built Territory that was once Australia’s best-selling SUV.

While the Territory had a choice of five- and seven-seat layouts and petrol and diesel powertrains, the Endura will be restricted to five seats and diesel.

A stretched seven-seat Edge with an extra 70mm of room is built by Ford in China, but the North American version earmarked for Australia comes only with five pews – a fact that will hamper the appeal of the wagon in a market dominated by the likes of the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, all of which have seven seats across the range.

As well, Holden is warming up its new seven-seat Acadia for launch in 2018.

Ford argues that its locally developed Everest fills the seven-seat void in its range. However, the cheapest seven-seat Everest is the rear-wheel-drive Trend at $53,990 – about $10,000 dearer than most of the top-selling direct rivals to the Endura.

Although a range of turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines are available in Edge in North America, Ford Australia has opted to exclusively employ the company’s newest Duratorq diesel – a 2.0-litre four cylinder. In the current Edges sold in the UK, it has two states of tune – 132kW of power and 400Nm of torque and 160kW/450Nm.

The 132kW version is also sold in the Mondeo sedan and Escape medium SUV in Australia where it achieves fuel economy of 5.1 litres per 100km in Mondeo and 5.5L/100km in Escape.

These diesel variants are offered with a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmission, but that is expected to be dropped from Edge/Endura and replaced with a conventional auto.

The Endura has big shoes to fill, as Territory has been one of Australia’s most popular large SUVs since it was launched in May 2004.

Made by Ford Australia at its Broadmeadows plant that closed in October last year, the Territory peaked in 2005 when it achieved 23,454 sales to assume the crown as Australia’s top-selling SUV.

In June of that year, Territory sales spiked to 2537 units – a record for the vehicle.

Although Territory went out of production along with the related Falcon sedan last year, sales of remnant stocks have continued to dribble out of Ford showrooms, with 20 finding new homes in October.

The demise of Territory has pummelled Ford SUV sales, which have fallen 21.2 per cent this year in a market segment that has risen 4.3 per cent.

With 11,139 sales year to date, Ford is now ranked 12th in the SUV sales race, behind the likes of BMW (11,175) and Volkswagen (11,140).

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