Ford Territory SZ Mk II Review and First Drive

by under Review on 29 Nov 2014 09:34:33 PM29 Nov 2014
2014 Ford Territory MK II
FROM $36,990
Fuel Consumption
FROM 10.2L/100km

Terrific looks; available seven seats; super strong; great engines


‘Truck-like’ driving position

Just like the Falcon sedan, Ford Australia is justifiably proud of the last-ever lineup of its locally developed Territory SUV. Called the SZ MkII model, the outstanding final Ford Territory arrives with astonishing price advantages over the outgoing range.


And like the Falcon, updates to the final Ford Territory range reflect the passion of the local team for its products to greet their curtain-call in the best possible way. ‘Falling Short’ is not how the Ford Australia team goes and the final Territory is the best-ever.


Ford Territory Overview

As we said, mirroring the Ford Falcon FG X, the final Ford Territory range comes to market with prices cut by between $3,000 to $6,000. That’s impressive given the updated looks and extra equipment included in the new models.

No changes in the model lineup with Ford Territory SZ MkII arriving in entry-grade TX, mid-grade TS and range-topping Titanium and a combination of rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive petrol or turbo-diesel.

The Ford Territory SZ MkII lineup is: 

TX RWD petrol $36,990
TX RWD diesel $40,240
TX AWD diesel $45,240
TS RWD petrol $41,740
TS RWD diesel  $44,990
TS AWD diesel  $49,990
TS AWD diesel $48,490
Titanium RWD petrol $51,740
Titanium AWD diesel $56,740

Ford Territory Engine

Both the 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine and 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel carryover to Ford Territory SZ MkII.  That remarkable petrol engine is good for 195kW of power at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 391Nm at 3,250rpm while the turbo-diesel delivers 140Kw of power at 4,000rpm and peak torque of 440Nm from as low as 1,900rpm.

However Ford Territory SZ MkII has squeezed a modest improvement in fuel consumption from the six-cylinder petrol engine (combined-cycle down by 3.9 per-cent for the TX model at 10.2l/100kms and by one per-cent in TS and Titanium grades to 10.5l/100kms). The turbo-diesel Ford Territory SZ MkII retains combined-cycle fuel consumption in the range of 8.2l/100kms – 9.0l/100kms (depending on the model).

Chief contributor to the improved fuel economy for Ford Territory SZ MkII petrol models is the standard fitment of ZF’s new light-weight 6HP21 six-speed automatic transmission.   


Ford Territory The Interior

Not a heap of changes inside the Ford Territory SZ MkII.  But Titanium grade adds the excellent new tan leather colour for the seats which, when combined with black carpet, presents an upscale European/Range Rover-ish look.


Naturally Ford Territory SZ MkII picks-up the same SYNC2 connectivity system and high-res eight-inch colour TFT screen as the Falcon FG X. With improved voice recognition, SYNC2 provides, for example, ‘one-shot’ navigation instructions (you simply say the whole address or destination – not separate suburb, street and number information).


And TX models add the reversing camera (already standard on the others).


Ford Territory Exterior & Styling

Unlike the Ford Falcon FG X, styling changes for the final Ford Territory aren’t so comprehensive. But they’re still significant.

Ford’s Melbourne-based styling team concentrated on providing a look for the Territory SZ MkII which follows the ‘Blue Oval’s’ global SUV styling. Hence the new grille and slimline headlights.


There’s also a new-design front bumper, new-design alloy wheels (17-inch for TX and 18-inch for TS and Titanium), new exterior mirrors with integrated LED turn indicators, side sills for Titanium grade and TS variants pick-up rear privacy glass.

Ford says the new look is robust but still cohesive and sophisticated.


Ford Territory On the Road

We drove the Ford Territory on the same day we drove the Ford Falcon FG X and over the same roads out of Albury, up into the mountains and onto Milawa. Despite satellite navigation and Ford as usual providing route map books with detail which would put a World Rally Championship team to shame, some of our colleagues got lost which cost time and so drove only range-topping Ford Territory Titanium models in both diesel and petrol.

Truth is it had been a while since we last drove a Ford Territory and we’d forgotten how good they are. Pleasingly those twisty mountain roads perfectly highlighted just how nicely developed the Territory’s drivetrain and suspension have become.

Let’s talk suspension refinement – the ability of the suspension to not only turn the vehicle but to isolate NVH from the cabin as, for example, a two-tonne SUV rumbles into pot holes and caresses the side of the road when cornering. Perusing media coverage will show most reckon in this segment Toyota Kluger delivers the best driving dynamics…well we’re telling you the latest Ford Territory is just as good as the Kluger.


In Titanium grade, the Ford Territory is just a few kilograms heavier than the Toyota Kluger Grande but Ford has the suspension calibration and mountings absolutely nailed. The result is even crashing into the worst of pot holes (and we saw a few!) sees the Ford Territory smoothly over with little intrusion of noise into the cabin and barely noticeable vibration. Very impressive.

So, given that advanced suspension development, it goes without saying the Ford Territory corners nicely flat with little body roll. And with good grip levels and nice feedback from the steering, the Territory can be hustled along with confidence.

And when we say ‘hustle’ we mean ‘hustle’ - especially with that 130kW/440Nm six-cylinder turbo-diesel doing the work. Sure it’s not the newest turbo-diesel engine in the world but it’s quiet and responsive.


Same with Ford’s venerable 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. Powerful, refined and strong-as…no wonder taxi drivers are getting more than 500,000kms without needing to touch anything inside.    


Ford Territory Issues

We love the Ford Territory but there’s no denying later designed SUVs do provide a more car-like driving position.


Ford Territory Verdict

History will record the Ford Territory as perhaps the greatest single achievement of Australian automotive manufacturing. That a market as small as this could get the green light to design, develop and manufacture a unique Aussie SUV still astonishes (at the time, Ford had multiple SUVs already being made in other global markets which could have been adapted for local needs).

What’s not surprising is that once given approval Ford Australia’s team did such a brilliant job of creating the Territory and evolving it over several generations. We expect excellence from Ford’s local design, product development and manufacturing teams.

All of which means, by being the ‘best-ever’, the Ford Territory SZ Mk II is simply one of the world’s best mass volume SUVs. Buy one, enjoy it, put an Australian Flag sticker on the back window and be very proud.


Ford Territory The Competition

Toyota’s all-new Kluger ($40,990 to $67,990) is a gem but ‘d’oh!’ there’s no turbo-diesel in a segment very keen on turbo-diesels (and Ford Territory offers one of the best). Kluger looks good inside and out and the shift away from Japanese production seems to have no adverse effect on quality.

On the other hand, Mitsubishi’s ancient Pajero ($50,990 to $73,990) is predominantly four-cylinder turbo-diesel with just one petrol variant – the $71,490 3.8-litre V6 ‘Exceed’ model. Pajero’s only advantage over the Ford Territory is slightly superior off-road agility.

Mazda Cx-9 ($44,525 to $63,828), like the Toyota Kluger is exclusively V6 petrol-powered (in Mazda’s case a 3.7-litre. Like the Ford Territory, the Mazda CX-9 is offered in two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive and in five or seven-seat interior configurations. We think the CX-9 is a cracker for families – lovely on-road but obviously not a bush-basher.


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