7 / 10
60 car years old and Ford’s Territory is still kicking.
We were all left a bit stunned at this year’s Melbourne International Motor Show when Ford unveiled their updated iteration of the Territory.
We were expecting to see the FG Falcon’s interior transplanted into the Territory, bringing it into line with the latest offerings from Ford. Instead, we were left with a car that was virtually identical to the one it was replacing. The interior remained practically untouched, as did the exterior.
I had to question whether it was really worth road testing the Territory, considering it had been on the market since early 2004.
None the less I jumped in to see what it was all about and whether or not the update was worth the fuss.
From the outside, it’s hard to spot the changes. The main ones revolve around the front end and side. The front has received revised headlights, along with a revised bumper and grille treatment.
The side profile has also undertaken a slight revision with a plastic embellishment in place of the side indicator, which has now been moved to the wing mirrors, providing greater visibility and adding style points.
The Territory’s styling was never ugly to begin with. The changes to the design have simply further refined it, making the already decent looking Territory better.
The only issue is that the design is getting very long in the tooth; some people may have already thrown in the towel with the concept, especially considering how much the segment has grown since the Territory’s inception.
Ghia is Ford’s up-spec version of the Territory and the Ghia gets privacy glass, decent looking 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome highlights around the front.
While the interior of Ford’s Territory is a spitting image of the day it was launched, Ford has gone all out with features, packing the Ghia to the hilt.
Rear seat passengers (kids more often than not) are treated to a flip-down Alpine entertainment system. The system plays DVDs and CDs to keep those up back entertained on long drives. When the screen is deployed rear visibility is virtually gone. The screen sits directly in between the rear vision mirror and the rear window, and at 10.2-inches it demands quite a lot of real estate.
One of the things I grew to hate over my week with the car was the lack of back lighting to the steering wheel controls. It’s hard to tell which buttons you are pushing when there isn’t much light available.
Ford’s stereos have never been anything to write home about and the Territory is certainly no different. The poor speakers begin distorting early on in the piece, while the radio often struggles with reception, even in built-up areas.
Our test vehicle was fitted with seven-seats, which were nothing short of a nightmare to operate, and no matter what we tried, we couldn’t get the extra row of seats to fold flat into the floor.
They would either sit upright or half flat resulting in very little luggage space due to the seat being constantly tilted.
I assume the final lever in the piece was jammed, which was stopping the system from folding.
Average stereo and dodgy third row of seats aside, the Territory interior is a nice place to be. Passengers can see out the windows with ease and there’s enough head and leg room to keep most punters with kids happy.
Driving the Territory is like riding a bike. Once you’ve done it, you’ll never forget what it’s like. The reason the Territory was a runaway success in Australia was due to its sedan like handling and brilliant feel behind the wheel.
It feels and sounds like a Falcon but has the versatility of an SUV.
Powering the Ghia rear-wheel-drive is Ford’s 4.0-litre, in-line, six-cylinder engine. Producing 190kW and 383Nm, it’s more than capable of hauling the Territory’s mass in relative ease.
The suspension set-up is absolutely superb. It has the surety and confidence of a much larger car and soaks up bumps in the road with very little fuss. Corners are also a breeze; with the suspension taking care of all the hard work and resulting in little body roll.
The only let down in this very versatile package is the gearbox. Here’s one to confuse you; while the Ghia all-wheel-drive model gets the superb ZF Sachs six-speed gearbox, the RWD version only gets the ancient four-speed automatic.
Although it works well in the Territory, it still brings back memories of AU Falcon days, which is not something we either want nor should anyone have to endure again.
As a result of the four-speed gearbox, fuel economy goes out the window, which is another thing this 2.0-tonne SUV isn’t too good at, officially returning 12.0-litres per 100 kilometres, but ending up becoming more like 13.2L/100km during the test.
While Ford’s Territory is becoming a little bit boring to look at, it’s still remarkably good to drive and feels like a modern car despite its age. It’s testament to what Ford engineers have done with the vehicle and what they will be able to achieve in years to come with alternate engines such as diesel and LPG.
Priced from $39,490 for the TX RWD, the Ghia RWD being test driven retails for $52,490. It’s an affordable package that offers great value for money in terms of power, size and space.
Although it’s almost six years old (that’s 60 in human years) it still moves and fights like a two year old (that’d be 20 in human years).
While the diesel is still a couple of years off, the revised Territory is still a very sound purchase option, despite its age.
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