Endeavour vs Fortuner vs Alturas G4 vs MU-X: Comparison Review

Endeavour vs Fortuner vs Alturas G4 vs MU-X: Comparison Review
Endeavour vs Fortuner vs Alturas G4 vs MU X Comparison Review

Words: Alan Richard D’Cruz Photo: Vikrant Date

We all go gaga over sports cars, luxury sedans and SUVs that cost many multiples more than an average home. But when it comes to actually buying the car of your dreams, a more realistic dream – one that 90 per cent of the car buying public can aspire to -, mostly everyone arrives at the D2 segment. For a majority of white collar folks in this SUV loving country, these SUVs inspire a majority of those ambitions. The Ford Endeavour, Toyota Fortuner, Mahindra Alturas G4 and the Isuzu MU-X are all SUVs in the truest sense. These ladder framed monsters can intimidate minions out of their way in the city and won’t bat an eyelid when called up to wallow in the mud either.

Enchanting dreams

The freshest face of these four belongs to the Alturas G4. It’s based on the second generation Ssangyong Rexton with a big bold Mahindra chrome grill to make it more familiar. It’s also the largest SUV in this test and its straight shoulder and roof lines, large open toothed grin and chunky alloy wheel pattern further emphasises that. It’s packed with features, quilted leather upholstery, and a new 7-speed transmission sourced from Mercedes-Benz. It’s sheer road presence alone is enough to inspire. The 4×4 variant we have on test retails for Rs 29.95 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) which is just a tad more expensive than the MU-X but the 4×2 variant only starts at Rs 26.95 lakh and has the lowest asking price of the four.

The Ford Endeavour is the most recently updated SUV of the lot and this 2019 model year update has given the big American some added oomph on the inside, but has changed very little on the outside. It joins the ranks of Ford’s spot-the-differences “facelifts” that we’ve been witnessing of late. That said, it’s still one of the nicest looking SUVs in our books and even though it does feature a lot of rounded edges, there is a certain butchness that gives it great road presence, but keeps it likeable at the same time. This 4×4 Titanium Plus will set you back Rs 32.97 lakh.

The Toyota Fortuner sports the most modern SUV design in this bunch. The bold chrome accents and sharp angular headlamps up front and the smooth shoulder line that steps up before meeting with the C-pillar give it a distinct youthfulness. But in the company of the Endeavour and the fresh looking Alturas G4, the new Fortuner loses some of its sheen. Another surprise when we looked at the numbers – the Fortuner is also the smallest of the lot. Its sales number though show that it’s still as desirable as it was on day one. It’s also the most expensive here at Rs 33.28 lakh.

And the outlier in this test is the MU-X. It also received a facelift to bring it up to date with the international model. Like the Endeavour, it’s also a blink and you miss it kind of a deal with a new pattern for the 17-inch alloy wheels and the repositioned DRLs which have moved from near the fog lamps to above the headlights. Strangely, Isuzu hasn’t given us the new 6-speed gearbox that international markets get. Yes, we’re sure the MU-X doesn’t feature in too many folks’ REM cycles, but that’s the whole point of including it. With its solid reputation for reliability, maybe this quiet Japanese wallflower should be enchanting more of us. The 4WD that we have here retails for Rs 29.32 lakh, making it the least expensive here.

Well endowed

With a price bracket ranging from Rs 29-33 lakh, each of these SUVs should be packed with features. And for the most part, they are – touchscreen infotainment systems, multi-speaker audio, electric seat adjust, multi-zone climate control, leather seats, 4×4 drive systems, electric folding rear view mirrors, multiple power outlets, are standard fare on all of them. Safety wise we’re looking at six airbags in the Fortuner and the MUX, seven in the Endeavour and nine in the Alturas G4. But the four split into two groups when it comes to the length of their features lists and the quality inside. The Endeavour and the Alturas G4 are the most recently updated vehicles and hence sport more comprehensive packages, while the MU-X and the Fortuner’s lists are a little shorter.

In the MU-X, the focus seems to be more on utility rather than comfort. The cabin does feature some leather on the top of the instrument cluster, the door panels and the gear knob, but it nevers comes across as a luxury offering in this company. That’s mostly down to a large amount of hard plastics and the dark colours don’t help either. Feature wise, the highlights are an 8-speaker audio system, 7-inch touchscreen, climate control, driver’s seat adjust and cruise control. The 2018 facelift also deleted the novel flip down, roof mounted, dvd video screen that made an appearance in the variant we drove back in 2017. So the overall impression is that it’s a very practical and hard wearing interior, but in this company and price point, it misses out on that desirability factor.

While the Fortuner still looks fresh on the outside, modern interiors have never been a forte of the Japanese manufacturer. The dark tan leather and wood accents have a certain old school upmarket feel, but the design and layout of everything gives you the distinct feeling that you are sitting in the oldest cabin of the lot. Still there are a few more features on offer to allow the Fortuner to feel better than the MU-X. Both front seats are powered and all-four windows feature auto up/down. It even gets an electric tailgate, compared to the manually operated one on the MU-X. Its six-speaker audio system is worthy of an immediate upgrade though and it’s also missing the almost standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Mahindra Alturas G4 is a pleasant surprise. Like the Fortuner, it’s also a classy space to step into, but it feels more modern and there seems to be a certain European sensibility to the layout. The quilted nappa leather looks and feels great and we simply loved the vented front seats. Other equipment highlights include the 360 degree camera, sunroof, a feature rich TFT LCD driver’s information display, automatic tailgate, memory function for front seats with an easy access mode, nine airbags and the six-speaker infotainment which also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It does have some strange omissions on an otherwise long features list like the manually adjustable passenger seat and a manually adjustable day/night IRVM (even the XUV300 gets an auto dimmer!). We also found that a lot of the buttons and switches feel a little delicate and one of the rear aircon vents actually popped out while we were adjusting it. So it doesn’t come across as being as built-to-last as the MU-X for instance.

The Ford Endeavour is the newest of the bunch and easily wins the longest feature list battle. Highlights are the panoramic sunroof, active noise cancellation, ambient lighting, electrically foldable third row, handsfree tailgate and a 10-speaker audio system. The Ford’s interiors are also top notch and though they may not be as classy as the Alturas G4’s, there’s leather wrapped everything. Also, on the move, the active noise cancellation gives it a distinct edge in terms of comfort. And that makes it top the feel-good-factor competition by a healthy margin. If there’s one complaint we have, it will be the care and effort required to keep those creamy interiors spick and span in the long run.

Big on space

They’re all 7-seaters right? On paper, they all have three rows of seating, but their execution of this is different in all three and comfort is not always paramount for seven adults.

Front

Ford Endeavour

Toyota Fortuner

Mahindra Alturas

Isuzu MU-X

Legroom (min-max)

900-1000mm

865-1045mm

950-1105mm

900-1080mm

Kneeroom (min-max)

550-790mm

550-790mm

550-780mm

550-810mm

Headroom

850-960mm

880-1010mm

880-975mm

885-990mm

Cabin Width

1440mm

1440mm

1510mm

1445mm

Shoulder Room

1360mm

1360mm

1410mm

1405mm

2nd Row

Ford Endeavour

Toyota Fortuner

Mahindra Alturas

Isuzu MU-X

Shoulder Room

1445mm

1415mm

1490mm

1450mm

Headroom

910mm

930mm

970mm

940mm

Kneeroom (min-max)

540-895mm

660-960mm

635-860mm

665-820mm

3rd Row

Ford Endeavour

Toyota Fortuner

Mahindra Alturas

Isuzu MU-X

Shoulder Room

1250mm

1325mm

1410mm

1345mm

Headroom

900mm

900mm

845mm

900mm

Kneeroom (min-max)

620-720mm

630mm

630mm

630mm

Seat Base Height from Floor

290mm

325mm

180mm

325mm

Ingress (WxH)

450mm x 1020mm

560mm x 980mm

550mm x 1120mm

645mm x 1030mm

The MU-X is the most comfortable of the lot if you want to load up all seven seats. The second row tumbles forward by tugging on just one lever and allows access to the third row. Third row passengers also have great visibility, decent support and sufficient leg room to be comfortable. In the second row as well, there is ample room to seat three abreast, but since the second row doesn’t slide forward, the only way to liberate more leg room for third row passengers is to have the second row seats set at their tightest recline angle.

The Fortuner and the Endeavour can also seat seven, but there are some caveats to that statement. In the Fortuner, the second row also tumbles forward with a single touch and allows easy access to the third row. It also slides forward and back allowing second row passengers to free up room for their friends at the back.

There are some compromises though. In the third row, even though the space and support is more than adequate (the seats can also be reclined for even more comfort), there is an issue with visibility. The rear-mounted blower for the second and third row actually dips down a lot into the cabin and this hampers rear visibility a lot. The Fortuner is the narrowest of the lot and so shoulder room is lacking in the second row and the middle passenger will sit at a different level on account of the central armrest cushion and raised central seat. This helps somewhat manage the shoulder room problem, but the middle passenger will be uncomfortable nonetheless.

The Endeavour’s middle row only slides and tilts forward. This gives you the most awkward access to the third row with occupants having to crawl/slide in. The third row also features the least shoulder room of the three, though it’s adequate for two passengers. The second row does slide forward and this helps liberate some knee room for rear passengers, and once that’s done they will be comfortable. The person who will now suffer, in this seven-seat configuration, is the second row middle passenger. He will now find that his knees will be close to, or touching, the middle aircon vents for the second row.

The Alturas 4G has the least practical third row. The middle row does tumble forward, but it requires two levers to be pulled together, while lifting the seat at the same time. The third row seats are also plainly bolted to the floor and this leaves passengers with their knees cramped up in a near squatting position with no under thigh support. The lack of a rear window also means that visibility out the sides is non-existent. We only recommend the third row be used for small children or for short city drives. The second row is widest of the lot though and easily accommodates three. The reclining backrest makes it even more comfortable. If you are going to be chauffeur driven, then this is the one to pick.

Drive experience and performance

Considering that most of these SUVs will spend most of their time in the city and our highways, and will very rarely see anything more than a country lane, we’ve focused our evaluation on these aspects. If you would like to see them battle it out in a mud pit, do let us know in the comments below. We’d be happy to oblige you with a re-do in more exciting conditions.

That said, we were quite surprised how closely they fared both in our tests and over 1000km of driving them in the city and out on the open road.

Specifications

Ford Endeavour

Mahindra Alturas G4

Toyota Fortuner

Isuzu MU-X

Displacement

3.2-litre

2.2-litre

2.8-litre

3.0-litre

Power

200PS

180PS

177PS

177PS

Torque

470Nm

420Nm

450Nm

380Nm

Transmission

6-speed AT

7-speed AT

6-speed AT

5-speed AT

Drivetrain

4×4

4×4

4×4

4×4

Road Test Data

Ford Endeavour

Mahindra Alturas G4

Toyota Fortuner

Isuzu MU-X

Mileage (City)

8.89kmpl

10.1kmpl

9.39kmpl

9.25kmpl

Mileage (Highway)

11.9kmpl

12.34kmpl

13.19kmpl

12.17kmpl

0-100kmph

11.70s

10.80s

12.48s

12.34s

20-80kmph

6.81s

6.92s

7.93s

7.54s

100-0kmph

41.53m

42.54m

45.23m

44.90m

Starting with the Fortuner which is the oldest of the bunch. The Fortuner’s forte is its predictable handling of practically any situation. In the city, it treads lightly with ample torque from the 2.8-litre motor and 6-speed automatic. It’s also happy to stick to triple-digit speeds all day without any bother at all. There are some complaints however. The engine is quite droney in the cabin and on the highway and even in the city, it was easily the loudest cabin of the four. The suspension also feels like the least sophisticated setup of the lot. And at slower speeds, it does tend to crash through sharper bumps. This stiffness does translate to more sure footed handling through corners so that’s a welcome tradeoff.

The MU-X is similarly loud like the Fortuner. The engine drone from the 3.0-litre engine is the primary culprit. Other than that, the engine and the 5-speed gearbox are rather unremarkable and go about doing their job in a matter of fact manner. The MU-X sports the quietest and softest suspension of the lot. And after driving it, we all had to say that this was the highlight of its driving experience. The independent coilover set up gobbled up everything we could throw at it and spat it out with aplomb. If you must take one of these four off-road, this is the SUV whose keys would be the most sought after.

One complaint we did have was about the steering setup. It was the slowest steering and the heaviest too. In the city, it required quite a bit of effort and conversely became a little too light at highway speeds. While the slow steering would be a boon off-road where you want the extra leverage and precision, in the city it just made things difficult. Also, there’s understeer, which means that when a set of corners arrived, it was the least inspiring to drive.

The Alturas G4 had the most enthusiastic drive train in this lineup. The 2.2-litre engine and 7-speed automatic, both sourced from Mercedes-Benz were also the quickest in our performances tests, despite being down on outright power and torque when compared to the big five-cylinder motor in the Ford’s engine bay. The engine is nice and responsive, and the gearbox is the slickest shifting in this company. This made it a pleasure to drive in all conditions, both when pottering around town or when hooning it around corners.

Around corners though is where the one complaint we have with the Alturas G4, is also exposed. Its suspension, while nice and composed at city speeds, tends to feel unsettled as speeds increase. There is a distinct increase to pitching and roll under sudden acceleration, cornering forces and braking that inhibits your ability to exploit all the performance from that delightful powertrain. This could be due to the fact that Mahindra have raised the suspension to bump up the ground clearance to 244mm for the Indian market.

The Ford Endeavour sports the biggest numbers in this company. The big 3.2-litre, five-cylinder motor may not be the quickest, but is certainly the easiest to drive. The slick-shifting gearbox, meaty torque band and light steering means that it’s surprisingly easy to handle around town and once you do get a move on, you appreciate that active noise cancelling. It’s the quietest cabin by far in this comparison and this goes a long way in reducing the stress of driving it over long distances. Our two testers Arun and Tushar even managed a 1300km journey in less than 20hrs, ensuring that the Endeavour made it to Pune in time for this test.

The suspension is also super insulating. And even though it keeps bumps and potholes away, it still stays predictable through corners. In comparison, we’d say the MU-X is soft almost to a fault, whereas the Endeavour does a better all-round job. If there was a complaint then it’s that the light steering, soft suspension and sound insulation may be a little too insulating when going off-road. That ability to ‘feel’ the road surface through the suspension and steering and hearing wheels roll over different surfaces may matter more. This, however, in no way changed the fact that the Endeavour’s keys were the most sought after in this test.

Dreamland

Each of these SUVs are capable in their own right and dreams are also very personal and individual experiences. So we won’t try to tell you which one you should dream off. What we can do though is paint a picture of what kind of person could dream of each of them.

The Isuzu MU-X will inspire someone who appreciates function over form. Someone who has the desire to tread the unbeaten path and is looking for a rugged, dependable off-roader is sure to go googly-eyed over the Isuzu’s capabilities. The 5year/1,50,000 km warranty sweetens the dream further.

From the sheer sales that the Toyota Fortuner posts every month, the fact that the Fortuner inspires many is evident. Reliability, a solid service network and brand value are its primary pullers. It’s also the swankiest looking SUV around.

The Mahindra Alturas G4 ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a flagship SUV. It’s the plushest of the lot with acres of space (for five) and the only one to offer cooled seats. It’s hard to ignore it when the 4×2 variant is also the least expensive in this group.

And finally we come to the mighty Ford Endeavour. The dreamiest of this bunch. It’s super comfy, quiet and easy to drive. It ticks a lot of luxury boxes and comes with massive road presence as well. It also inspires 99 per cent of the team that tested it. Enough said.

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