FORD TERRITORY TS AWD DIESEL REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Family Wagon SUV
Price: $55,240 all-wheel-drive diesel (Rear-wheel drive diesel $50,240)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.8 l/100km (combined cycle)
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.1 l/100km
Has Ford Australia just launched the best new car of 2011?
It’s too early to call, but this we can attest: Ford Australia’s new Territory - now available in diesel form - is the best ‘all-rounder’ family wagon ever designed and built in this country.
Under the bonnet of our test car was the meaty and masterful 2.7 litre Duratorq V6. (The petrol engine is now available only with the rear-wheel drive format.)
The diesel puts to bed what had previously been an issue for the Territory - its fuel consumption - and delivers the towing capacity of a “tradie ute”.
The 2011 Territory is improved everywhere you care to look. This is one very impressive box from Ford Australia. Only the pricing, which places the Territory in the upper quartile of the segment, remains a question mark.
- Quality: The surfaces that matter - the ones you touch - look and feel terrific. While the design is safe and conventional, the overall layout is clean and uncluttered, with neat metal garnishes and an understated feel throughout.
The easily-navigated touch screen display is at the same eye-height as the instrument binnacle, and other controls feel and look good.
The only debit is the slight mismatch in surface textures where the dash meets the doors.
- Comfort: Seats are well-shaped and comfortable, and the steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable.
Second row seats are raised theatre-style, and the third row jump-seats are easy enough to access, though they’re not really meant for adults.
- Equipment: Standard with the range-topping Titanium and mid-spec TS is an eight-inch touchscreen, with clear and easily-navigated graphics (there is also a rotary control). The system is upgradeable with a thumping audio system at its heart; it also features sat-nav (for TS and Titanium) and reversing camera is standard across the range.
The screen controls the Territory's audio system, with iPod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity along with telephone and climate controls. There are also wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls.
The TS features 18-inch alloys, reversing camera, fog lights, dual-zone climate control, premium audio and seating for seven.
- Storage: What the Territory lacks in overall length, it makes up in height with 1153 litres of storage capacity with the jump-seats folded flat.
There is also a lockable drawer under the driver’s seat, handbag and umbrella recesses and the usual assortment of cupholders.
Access to the boot through the clever split-lift rear hatch is good; groceries and school bags can be dropped through the glass opening, or the whole hatch lifted for larger items. (Some women may find the whole hatch a little heavy though.)
The big story though is the Territory’s towing capacity: with the towing pack it can haul over 2700kg (braked). That’s enough for a very big boat, horse float or mini-excavator.
ON THE ROAD:
- Driveability: The TS AWD 2.7 litre diesel is a very accomplished drive. It’s swift; with 140kW and 440Nm of torque underfoot (peak torque available from 1900rpm through to 2500rpm), and mated to Ford's ZF-based 6R80 six-speed auto, it powers the Territory along effortlessly.
In ‘sport’ mode, if left to its own devices (it can also be paddled manually), gear changes arrive later when accelerating, and it changes down earlier into corners. It’s one of the better transmissions in the sector.
Steering, electrically assisted (‘borrowed’ from the US-market Mustang and tuned for Australian roads), provides good feel and precision.
- Refinement: For refinement and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), Ford Australia engineers benchmarked the new Territory against BMW’s X5 (among others) – and it shows.
At the wheel, the Territory’s V6 diesel betters the X5 for smoothness. It is all-but invisible as a diesel; there is the barest, barest hint of clatter at idle and, on the road, a smooth and satisfying groan.
Otherwise, tyre roar and wind-noise has been tuned out; only the lower frequencies intrude on coarse chip surfaces. For cabin ‘quietness’, it has its nearest competition absolutely whipped.
- Suspension: The Territory’s suspension, always its strong point, is superbly tuned front to back.
It is also correctly damped for the varying surfaces of Australian roads; it is compliant without wallow, and with a long-travel feel that has all wheels ‘tracking’ the contours of the road. The result is that, at the wheel and for occupants, it provides the classy isolated ride of a much more expensive car.
And on gravel and over corrugations, you would barely notice the change in the surface. Full marks to Ford Australia engineering here.
- Braking: With vented discs and twin-piston calliper up front, single piston at the rear, and with a nicely balanced and progressive pedal feel, the Territory’s braking performance is strong and fade-free.
- ANCAP rating: 5-Star
- Safety features: Standard across the new Territory range is dynamic stability control with roll-over mitigation, traction control, emergency brake assist, driver and front passenger airbags, side curtain airbags (for front and second row) and driver's knee airbag.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
- Toyota Kluger KX-R 7 seater ($47,190) - Very solid, and a good-looking wagon, but marred by an imprecise front-end, ordinary on-road dynamics and no diesel. (see Kluger reviews)
- Holden Captiva 7 CX Wagon ($39,490) - Like the Kluger, the much cheaper Captiva is no match on road for the Territory and it has no answer to the Territory’s brilliant Duratorq diesel. It also lacks the solid, robust feel and sense of security of the Territory. (see Captiva reviews)
- BMW X5 3.0DT ($92,100) - Really? A competitor? Well yes, for suspension compliance and feel, the new Territory is at least a match for the X5 over Australian country roads.
And the Territory is quieter; its diesel smoother and better isolated. Where the X5 blitzes is in interior trim and feel, it’s very classy. (see X5 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL:
For on-road dynamics and comfort at the wheel, there is daylight between the new Territory and its nearest rivals for your dollars, the Captiva and Kluger.
Add in a vastly superior diesel engine, and the new Territory is the standout performer in the segment.
Family wagons for middle Australia don’t get any better.