2011 FORD TERRITORY REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five-door seven-seat SUV
Price (Titanium TDCi): $63,240
Fuel-consumption (claimed): 9.0 l/100km
Fuel consumption (on test): 9.3 l/100km
Back in 2004, Ford Australia launched a landmark vehicle. That was the Territory; though it wasn’t without flaws, it was a very well-engineered car and it quickly found favour with Australian families.
Its only major shortcoming was that it lacked a diesel.
That was then. Now, with the launch this year of the updated 'SZ' model, there’s a sensational turbo-diesel under the bonnet.
Designed and built by Ford UK, the 2.7 litre common-rail V6 turbo-diesel has been proven by the likes of Jaguar, Land Rover and Peugeot. The Territory, remarkably, is the first Ford product anywhere in the world with this engine under the bonnet.
I’ve tested others in the range, but really warmed to the top-shelf Titanium AWD TDCi.
Quality: Much of the new Territory’s interior architecture is borrowed from the FG Falcon. The Titanium models (and TS) however have a large and very smart central touch-screen and infotainment system with Bluetooth phone connectivity.
While quality leather abounds, for a top-spec model costing beyond $63,000, the Titanium has more than its share of hard plastics and certainly more than the top-spec Falcon.
Comfort: The front bucket seats are very comfortable, generously shaped and have reasonable bolstering (which, on the Titanium, is necessary because the leather trim can be a tad slippery during enthusiastic cornering).
The second-row seats are raised slightly, theatre style, giving passengers there a better view of proceedings, and leg-room is fine for most.
Equipment: The Titanium comes standard with touch-screen sat-nav with TMC6 traffic-message channel.
It’s intuitive, easily navigated and also positioned high up on the dash and in the same line of sight as the tacho and speedo (meaning you don’t have to take your eyes too far off the road to read it).
The Titanium also comes with a seven-speaker premium audio system with 150-Watt amplifier and subwoofer (and supports both iPod and Bluetooth), a USB port and 3.5mm audio jack and an Alpine rear-DVD entertainment system.
There is also a reversing camera, foglights, air-con, 18-inch alloys, and a unique chrome-detailed upper-and-lower grille.
Storage: No shortage of options here. The SZ Titanium offers more than 30 storage cubby holes including a new more-spacious centre console.
The seven-seater’s third-row seats are simple to erect or stow and the split tailgate that allows the glass to be opened separately is ideal for stashing smaller items.
Braked towing capacity is 2700kg and a downward tow-ball weight of 270kg means that hitching a horse in tow, or caravan if you’re so inclined, presents no dramas.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 2.7litre common-rail V6 turbo-diesel transforms the Territory. With 140kW of power at 4000rpm and 440Nm of peak torque under the bonnet, few SUVs drive as effortlessly and with this level of refinement at the wheel.
Mated to the six-speed sequential-sports ZF automatic, it is a match made in heaven.
While it hesitates slightly on take-off, from 1800rpm it is smooth, quiet, strong and swift. It kicks down readily, or can be manually rowed using the sequential shift, and, up-hill and down-dale, is completely unfussed by a full load.
Refinement: You expect the top-shelf Titanium to be quiet. But the surprise with the new turbo-diesel engine is that if you tramp heavily on the accelerator and make it really work, it’s quieter than the petrol six.
The driving dynamics and levels of refinement of the Territory – right across the range – are very impressive.
Road, wind and powertrain noise has been markedly improved thanks to more than 800,000km of testing in Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Alaska and Sweden.
Suspension: The SZ scored stiffer front and rear suspension, enhanced roll-suppression and a clever drift/pull-compensation system on the electronic stability program that compensates for conditions such as road camber and side winds.
It works very well. The Titanium in fact rides more like a premium saloon than SUV.
Each in the range also benefits from an electric power-steering system that is sealed and lubricated for life (and, by reducing load, cuts fuel consumption by 2.5 percent).
As well as being a delight out on the open road or punting enthusiastically through tight corners, the new steering set-up makes city parking a breeze.
Brakes: With a good pedal feel and big discs all round, the Territory Titanium is rock-solid when braking; and, as we found, while the pedal hardened a little, fade free on a long swift downhill run.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
Safety-features: There are five airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. There is also standard dynamic stability control, traction control and ABS.
A roll-over-mitigation system has also been added to the standard-fit Bosch “gen-nine” dynamic-stability-control system. It constantly monitors the vehicle’s road behaviour; if a potential roll-over is detected, additional understeer comes into play to settle things down.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years or 100,000km (plus, roadside assist, see below)
Service costs: With MyFord Capped Price Servicing, service charges are $290 inc. GST including roadside assistance (there are some exclusions). This is available for up to six years or 105,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW X5 xDrive30d ($92,100) - Three-litre (straight) six and eight-speed auto, more dynamic at the wheel and exquisite interior - but it’s far, far pricier and the Ford is a match for on-road refinement. (see X5 reviews)
VW Touareg 150TDI ($62,990) - An excellent interior, superior on-road manners, and a strong 150kW V6 diesel in the nose, but options and servicing charges are costly. It’s otherwise a line-ball choice. (see Touareg reviews)
Mazda CX-9 Luxury ($59,233) - No diesel, but it’s a seven-seat 3.7 litre V6 that is a match for the premium Territory for on-road comfort. However, outpointed by the Titanium for features, and beaten hands-down for fuel efficiency. (see CX-9 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Ford has done it in spades with the Territory. It took a long time to get a diesel, but it has been worth the wait.
In terms of its refinement and super-impressive noise/vibration/harshness levels, the Titanium AWD TDCi is up there with the best diesel SUVs in the world – even those from Germany that are twice the price … and more.
Ford’s SZ Territory is one very good car and one we’d highly recommend. At $63,240, most will find it’s a little pricey in Titanium trim, but there’s a lot of car behind those dollars.