It's the final hurrah for the Ford Territory. Pricing and equipment changes make it better value than ever. But, is it still a worthy family SUV?
Sporting over 155,000 sales since it was launched in 2004, the Ford Territory has been a huge hit for the Australian manufacturer.
With production set to cease at the end of 2016, the Territory remains one of the most competent purchases in the congested SUV segment.
Launched last year as a final revision to the Ford Territory, the SZ II Territory benefits from minor style, tech and price revisions for its sprint to the finish.
Territory pricing starts from $36,990 (plus on-road costs) for the Territory TX RWD petrol, while the top-spec Territory Titanium AWD diesel tested here heads the field from $56,740 (plus on-roads).
It’s hard to spot design changes between the SZ and SZ II Territory. Key to the revisions is a new single-bar chrome upper grille, new hexagonal central grille and a changed fog-light cluster.
Wheels have also changed from the outgoing Territory, with the Titanium specification now picking up a classier split five-spoke rim.
Despite only making minor revisions to the family SUV’s design, the Territory still looks fit for purpose and premium enough in this top Titanium specification.
The interior of the Territory never felt as premium as its external design. Unfortunately, this hasn’t changed at all. The same cheap plastics are strewn throughout the cabin, while the wing mirror switch design dates back to the 2002 BA Falcon — yikes.
Other sloppy Territory traits that haven’t been resolved include the non-backlit steering wheel buttons; no automatic down/up electric windows (except driver automatic down) and the rear window washer that leaks under hard throttle applications.
These quirks aside, the Territory interior remains spacious and family-friendly. More than 30 cubby holes can be found among the three seating rows, while handy catch trays attached to the seats snag any coins or keys that may fall out of pockets while driving.
Ford’s SYNC2 multimedia system debuts in the SZ II Territory, offering a large 8.0-inch colour touchscreen; SYNC2 integrates climate, navigation and multimedia functions into one.
We found the navigation a little tricky to use, and we actually prefer the outgoing system. But the rest of the functions are great, the resolution has been improved, and there's now digital radio reception standard across the range.
SYNC2 also features an accurate and user-friendly voice recognition system that gives the driver an opportunity to perform functions ranging from adjusting climate control through to entering navigation addresses.
The Titanium also comes with seven speakers, sub-woofer and 150W amplifier. This is in addition to a roof-mounted 10.2-inch colour screen for rear seat passengers.
The seats are very comfortable with a generous amount of leg and headroom on offer up front and in the second row. The third row is quite restrictive in terms of legroom, so it’s more of an occasional use row or one used strictly by younger kids. Buyers that don’t need this third row can delete it as a no cost option.
Cargo capacity is up there with the best in class for this size of SUV, with a claimed 1153 litres of storage available with the third row folded into the floor. The split tailgate allows you to open either the upper glass section or the entire boot, which comes in handy if you only need to load smaller items such as shopping bags.
Powering the Territory Titanium AWD is a 2.7-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine that produces 140kW of power and 440Nm of torque. While the rear-wheel drive Titanium is available with a naturally aspirated petrol six-cylinder engine, the all-wheel drive only comes with the diesel.
The tried and capable engine is mated to a ZF Sachs six-speed automatic gearbox that has been used in the Falcon and Territory stable for several years. The smooth shifting gearbox works perfectly with this six-cylinder diesel engine to deliver an engaging drive.
A diesel engine can often overpower the cabin with noise, but the 2.7-litre V6 under the Territory’s bonnet stays quiet at most times, even when the driver demands power. Equally, the engine is fairly responsive, but can suffer from turbocharger lag from a standing start.
Consuming just 9.0L/100km on the combined cycle, our testing showed that this figure is easily achievable and drops considerably when highway miles are thrown into the mix. Not bad when you consider the Territory weighs more than 2100 kilograms.
Electric power assisted steering helps make the Territory feel like a small car when it comes to parking and manoeuvring in the city. There is ample steering feel at speed too.
Brake pedal feel has improved, but remains quite spongy and devoid of positive communication. It’s not a huge issue and becomes second nature over time.
Despite wearing off-road oriented treads, the Territory feels rewarding on the open road and through corners. The light steering teams with a composed and rigid chassis to deliver the ‘sport’ in SUV.
Likewise, the Territory rides incredibly well. Ford's Australian engineers have ensured that the ride comfort and handling over sub-par surfaces is confident and predictable. Bump absorption and damping is the perfect balance between sporty and comfort.
With 175mm of ground clearance the Territory also doesn’t mind occasionally getting its paws dirty. The permanent all-wheel drive system caters for uneven ground and takes advantage of the on-board stability control to reign in traction issues.
During our time with the car we threw the Territory at some fairly rough terrain and found that it was quite capable. It would certainly cater for families that venture off-road to their favourite family campground or those who enjoy spending time at the snow.
And to help watch your pennies for adventures, Ford's lifetime capped-price servicing program offers decent clarity as to what to expect down the road. The average annual cost for its 12 months or 15,000km interval servicing after five years is $321. It's backed by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.
Given revised pricing and the Territory’s tried and tested reputation as a handy SUV in Australia, this latest iteration is a fitting improvement and final offering. If you take your haggling hat to the Ford dealership, you may snap up a bargain.
If the asking price for a car that is essentially ten years old under the skin is a bit rich, the top-spec all-wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento models both offer similar torque outputs, better fuel economy and much better warranties (five and seven years respectively).
Perhaps the Territory will become a collector’s item one day — maybe that’s pushing it. In the interim, it’s a competent and big SUV that gets the job done.