Ford Australia still won’t officially confirm what will replace the Australian-made Territory large SUV, but it has promised to do so before October this year — the time when its local car-making operation shuts for good.
That said, the coming announcement is not expected to hold too many great surprises. It seems to be all but a formality that the Ford Edge will be sold in Australia to compete with the Hyundai Santa Fe and company, albeit not with that nameplate (read on for why).
After all, the Ford Edge is sold as a right-hand-drive offering in the UK, where it is imported from Oakville, Canada. This opens the door to the car getting the ‘One Ford’ treatment for other markets such as ours.
When it would launch is less clear, but an arrival time in the first half of 2017 would seem most likely.
The one major source of debate centres around nomenclature. Toyota Australia presently owns the Edge trademark here, which it acquired in 1999 and has applied to model variants such as the Yaris Edge, Corolla Edge and RAV4 Edge.
This means Ford will have to find a new Australian-specific name, unless it can convince Toyota to sell the name — an option potentially hindered by Ford’s adversarial marketing tactics where it has recently named Toyota specifically as an inferior product to its own.
As such, speculation would suggest that the Ford Territory badge could linger on, provided Ford Australia’s US parent green-lights it.
The Ford Edge measures about 4750mm long, making it 140mm shorter than the current Territory, but 50mm longer still than the Santa Fe. There is a snag, though. European versions most aligned with what we can expect are five-seat offerings only, with the seven-seat derivative available in China.
Given most mainstream large SUVs on the market with the exception of the Jeep Grand Cherokee have seven seats (including the outgoing Territory), this might prove a sticking point, though the massive circa-800L cargo space would prove a positive.
Perhaps Ford Australia will reposition one or more variants within its more rugged seven-seat Everest line-up to address any shortfall. This will give it a strong medium-to-large SUV range of Kuga, Edge/Territory and Everest.
Expect the Ford Edge/Territory to come available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, potentially with a 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four and a 154kW/450Nm 2.0 TDCi turbo-diesel engine, both with six-speed automatic transmissions.
Large SUV sales are strong in Australia, up a further 5.0 per cent this year and owning about 12 per cent total market share.