On one hand we totally understand why local car production is unsustainable. But the last Ford Territory is so good it’s inevitable for one to again question the logic.
By any measure this locally designed, developed and manufactured full-size SUV stands competitive on the world stage. In many areas it is far better than some rival vehicles which are continuing in production and are imported to Australia.
Ford Australia under the stewardship of recently-departed President Bob Graziano is to be applauded for its efforts to assist employees during these difficult times. To them we say “well done” on the final SZ II Territory lineup – it is terrific.
Maybe one day this will be a collectors’ car commanding big dollars at auctions. Without doubt it will be remembered as the best car ever produced by Ford Australia.
Ford Territory Overview
As we know Ford’s SZ II Territory debuted styling changes which in the overall context were minor, but which - on the outside at least - did transform the local seven-seat SUV as it ushered-in its last generation. To bid adieu to the Ford Territory www.carshowroom.com.au ‘bookended’ the range, getting behind the wheel of the range-topping Titanium model turbo-diesel in all-wheel-drive (AWD) priced at $56,740 and the entry-level rear-wheel-drive (RWD) petrol model priced at $36,990.
As well as the styling changes, for the SZ II update both Ford Territory models we tested received swag of extra features inside and out.
The range-topping Ford Territory Titanium makes a bold statement about the thoroughness of our local car manufacturing operations – not much has been left on the shelf. For example, over the mid-grade Ford Territory TS, the Titanium adds leather seats, six-way electronic adjustment for the drivers’ seat, satellite navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and stainless steel underbody scuff plates front and rear.
Ford Territory Engine
Both of our Ford Territory test cars were powered by familiar allies – the 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel and 4.0-litre straight six petrol engine. In these days of hybrid that or twin-charged the other there is something reassuring about Ford Territory’s uncomplicated and powerful engine lineup…an unlikely drama in say the Kimberleys or Cape York would see any mechanic able to instantly repair or quickly source parts you’d reckon.
AWD models like our range-topping Ford Territory Titanium are exclusively powered by the 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel good for 140kW of power at 4000rpm and peak torque of 440Nm from 1900rpm. As ever, drive was via a ZF six-speed automatic transmission.
Far from the newest turbo-diesel design, Ford’s V6 remains one of our favourites for its combination of performance and surprising – for its age – refinement. We can think of several shiny brand-new turbo-diesel engines from big-name brands which don’t match Ford Territory’s V6 for quiet operation.
For combined-cycle fuel consumption Ford Territory Titanium AWD scores 9.0l/100kms.
The 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine is a stalwart and in its latest guise has improved fuel consumption yet again – in the TX RWD we tested down to 10.2l/100kms. Maximum power is 195kW at 6000rom and peak torque of 391Nm arrives at 3250rpm.
Ford Territory The Interior
Much like pulling-on your favourite sweatshirt, a familiar look/feel greets you upon opening the door of the latest SZ II Ford Territory. There’s ample room, you know where everything is and what it does and you know it all comes together just as it always has.
And it’s this spaciousness which provides the local Territory with an edge over many rivals. That and the super-comfy seats.
But wait – what’s this new thing centre dashboard? That would be a debutant in the SZ II Territory in the form of Ford’s SYNC2 multimedia system with its large 8.0-inch colour touchscreen (seven-speaker, 150W audio system for Titanium).
Otherwise we know the usual Ford steering wheel and instrumentation, the good all-round visibility and, in the case of the range-topping Titanium model, the quality leather trims (a new tan colour included as part of the update package).
Second row accommodation is also spacious and of course those in Titanium score the rear seat DVD entertainment system with its roof-mounted 10.2-inch colour screen.
Ford Territory’s third row seating is handy for families with young children or adults on short trips.
Of course one of the big plus-points for the Ford Territory has always been its cargo space. We’d call 1153-litres (third row folded flat) more than handy and the split tailgate allows you to open only the glass window when you’re loading small items.
Ford Territory Exterior & Styling
While changes inside the SZ II Ford aren’t huge, a noticeable lift in the exterior style has been achieved via nice changes front and rear. Of course the overall look remained unchanged and one can only ponder what the all-new replacement Ford Territory may have looked like – we’d venture the thick, forward-sloping C-pillars – well they’re a hallmark of the design - would have been adapted and improved as part of what is a unique Australian design for Ford SUVs.
Meanwhile the current version sees a thin upper front grille highlighted by a single horizontal chrome bar and, integrated in the new front fascia, a lower hexagonal-shaped grille. There are also new slim-line headlights and front fog-lights
At the rear, new-design tail-lights emphasize the width of the SZ II Ford territory.
All models scored new-design alloy wheels - 17-inch on our TX RWD test car while our range-topping Ford Territory Titanium was easily identified by its unique 18-inch alloy wheels and front/rear stainless steel underbody scuff plates front and rear.
Ford Territory On The Road
Any road test of the SZ II Ford Territory (like its predecessor in fact) must be dominated by the full-size SUV’s ride and handling. Make no mistake, in this department the home-grown Territory leaves many flashy imports looking second rate.
Ford’s local engineers, backed by countless hours of testing and development, have honed the spring and damper settings, steering calibration and body control so the Territory now delivers flat cornering and responses more akin to a passenger car than a full-size SUV.
And, impressively, this is achieved without an overly stiff ride. Refinement levels too are right up there with excellent isolation from bumps and little intrusion of outside noises.
A big part of the picture with our Titanium grade test car was the V6 turbo-diesel. One of our favourite engines, the 2.7-litre was refined at all speeds and combined with smart ratios in the ZF six-speeder to provide effortless acceleration – just what you need when towing a large boat or caravan.
Ford’s venerable 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine also delivers abundant performance. When working hard it’s not quite as refined as the turbo-diesel.
So, over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, both of our SZ II Ford Territory test vehicles gave a very polished performance. If pushed to nominate a favourite, the extra refinement and torque would see us voting in favour of the turbo-diesel – although naturally in the twisty stuff the better chassis balance of the AWD version counted just as much as the engine.
Ford Territory Challenges
We know budgets were tight, but for the last hurrah it would have been nice to dispatch the Ford Territory to the pages of history with a knockout new interior rather than a largely unchanged version of the previous generation.
Ford Territory Verdict
We know the all-new Ranger-based made-in-Thailand Everest seven-seat SUV is coming and it will give Ford artillery to take-on the likes of Holden Colorado and Isuzu MU-X in the heavy duty/caravan towing end of the market. There’s also been talk of the more luxurious Ford Edge heading downunder in right-hand-drive.
Effectively that means Ford needs two vehicles to replace its lone locally-made superstar – the Territory.
Says a lot about how good the home-grown product is really.
Ford has the Territory spot-on – it’s spacious and practical inside, drives nicely and is very competitive in any value comparison. We’re sure the Everest and Edge will be good but they have big shoes to fill if they’re going to conquer the Aussie product.
Ford Territory The Competition
Our favourite rival for the Ford Territory is the Isuzu MU-X. Priced from $45,600 to $54,000 the MU-X is powered by the venerable 3.0-litre turbo-diesel and affords plenty of space inside. Sure, by a narrow margin it’s not as refined as the Territory but, especially for those recreationalists who tow large trailers, the Isuzu MU-X is the best bet (other than the Territory).
The other ‘must-include’ on your list is Nissan’s latest Pathfinder. Powered by Nissan’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine (or a 4.0-litre hybrid) and priced from $39,990 to $65,090, the Pathfinder has morphed from a tough off-roader to a more family-friendly seven-seater with oodles of interior space and plenty of refinement.
Likewise Kia’s just-launched all-new Sorento ($40,990 - $55,990) must be considered. All-new Sorento is bigger, looks the part, drives well and is terrific inside. Kia says the all-new Sorento is Australia’s safest SUV and it is backed by the industry’s best after-sales and warranty program.