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Driven: Ford enters new territory with Endura SUV

Ford takes conservative route with sales forecast for diesel-only Endura five-seater

18 Dec 2018

FORD Australia says it has not projected “huge volumes” for its diesel-only Endura, although the large-size five-seater will play a critical role in filling the ‘premium’ hole in its expanding SUV line-up.
Speaking to GoAuto last week at the Endura national media launch in Healesville, Victoria, Ford Australia and New Zealand president and chief executive officer Kay Hart would not be drawn on a specific sales forecast for the large SUV but said expectations are conservative due to its premium positioning.
“We (now) have a more premium-focused SUV, in terms of the Endura,” she said. “For the customers that are looking at those sorts of vehicles, we have a great proposition.
“We’re not expecting huge volumes from it, (but) we are expecting it to do really well and fill a gap that we have currently between Escape and Everest.”
The Endura five-seater is available in three grades, with the entry-level Trend starting from $44,990 before on-road costs, rising to $53,990 for the mid-range ST-Line and $63,990 for the flagship Titanium.
While front-wheel drive is standard, an all-wheel-drive system can be optioned on any grade for $4000. All variants are exclusively paired to an eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.
Comparatively, the mid-size Escape ranges in price from $28,990 to $48,340, while the off-road-focused, large-size Everest seven-seater stretches from $49,190 to $73,990.
When asked if the Endura is expected to eventually surpass the Everest and become Ford Australia’s new best-selling SUV, Ms Hart said the established model is likely to maintain its current position.
“The segment, for us, is probably going to be key for Everest, in terms of where that sits,” she said. “It continues to go from strength to strength … but Australians will tell us where they see what they want.”
Sales of the Everest have significantly improved this year, with 4945 examples sold to the end of November – an 18.0 per cent increase over the 4190 deliveries made during the same period in 2017, partly thanks to the release of its facelifted model in August.
As a result, the Everest has become the eighth best-selling large SUV in the sub-$70,000 segment that the Endura will compete in, trailing Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado (17,091 units) and Kluger (13,577), Subaru’s Outback (9974), Isuzu’s MU-X (8030) and Mazda’s CX-9 (7475), among others.
While the Canadian-built Endura five-seater is in the minority in its class with its two-row layout, Ms Hart ruled out a seven-seat version of it being imported from China, where such a model is manufactured, due to a lack of right-hand-drive production.
“There is definitely a segment for both five and seven seats,” she said. “The market is clearly interested in a seven-seater, and we see that with the success of our Everest … but there is currently no seven-seater available to us.”
Despite diesel SUV sales taking a 4.6 per cent hit this year, Ms Hart said the decision to offer the Endura with a single engine option will prove to be the right one.
“There’s definitely still demand for diesel in that segment,” she said. “I’m not sure that’s going to hold us back at all. The engine we have coming in is a good match for the market.”
The Endura is exclusively motivated by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 140kW of power at 3500rpm and 400Nm of torque from 2000 to 3000rpm.
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test is 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres when the Endura is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, while its braked towing capacity is 2000kg.
A potential petrol variant could come in the form of the performance-focused ST, which uses a 250kW/515Nm 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6, but Ms Hart again cited a lack of right-hand-drive production.
“There’s a customer for everything … (but) it’s not available at this stage,” she said. “We’re not looking at it right now … (but) if it were to become available, I am sure we would look at it.”
As reported, standard equipment in the Trend includes 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/60 tyres, dusk-sensing LED headlights with auto-levelling, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, LED foglights with cornering functionality, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-folding side mirrors with heating and puddle lights, rear privacy glass and silver roof rails.
Inside, an 8.0-inch touchscreen Sync3 infotainment system, satellite navigation with live traffic, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ digital radio, a nine-speaker sound system, a 10.0-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, Ebony fabric upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and ambient lighting feature.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed assist, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, hill-start assist and tyre pressure monitoring, plus seven airbags.
The ST-Line adds sports suspension, a black trapezoidal grille, chrome foglight bezels, a bodykit, black exterior trim (including roof rails), 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/50 tyres, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror and a hands-free power-operated tailgate.
Aluminium pedals and scuff plates, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat with lumbar support, driver’s seat memory functionality, heated and ventilated front seats, Ebony Miko suede upholstery with leather accents, and a rear cargo net and blind are gained internally.
Compared to the Trend, the Titanium picks up 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/50 tyres, adaptive bi-LED headlights with chrome bezels, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, a hands-free power-operated tailgate and a dual-panel panoramic sunroof, which can be optioned on the Trend and ST-Line for $2500.
Illuminated aluminium scuff plates, a power-adjustable steering column, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat with lumbar support, driver’s seat memory functionality, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, Ebony Salerno leather-accented upholstery, a rear cargo net and blind, and deluxe floormats are standard inside the Titanium.
Active safety features expand to include blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert and park assist, of which the latter can be added to the ST-Line for $1000.
Prestige paintwork, a towbar and a rear DVD entertainment system cost $600, $1000 and $1600 respectively for all variants.
Nineteen-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/55 tyres can be optioned on the Trend for $1000, while a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system and a front camera can be added together to the ST-Line and Titanium for $1000.
The Endura comes with Ford Australia’s recently-introduced five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while up to seven years of roadside assistance is offered alongside capped-price servicing.


2018 Ford Endura pricing*

Trend FWD (a) $44,990
Trend AWD (a) $48,990
ST-Line FWD (a) $53,990
ST-Line AWD (a) $57,990
Titanium FWD (a) $63,990
Titanium AWD (a) $67,990

*Excludes on-road costs

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