The first model of a brand new car will always be problematic but in the case of the Ford SX Territory, the vehicle lived up to its 2004 Wheels COTY. The one I have been driving is the top of the range Ghia trim in RWD form.
Technically the Territory is my father’s with him borrowing my cheaper to run my 14 y/o Opel Astra for his daily commute while I’m only busy 2 days a week for a Tafe class. Since I got my P’s I’ve been driving the “Tezza” regularly and although I missed the chance to drive it when new, I’ve fallen in love – I’m a Holden nut too which makes my love for this car even more special.
9 years old and the Tezza still handles like a charm. Few problems here and there such as radiator issues, door mechanism and interior trim decaying but the handling of this SUV has always been a charm. The manoeuvrability is second to none and visibility is a world beater with large windows and a decent sized one between C and D pillar.
In this new technology age, the SX Territory feels like it was built at the end of an era. The lack of an auxiliary input was a mistake from Ford and older cars including my Astra even had one. The 6 Cd stacker is a good substitute and oddly doesn’t make the fact you can’t change to an aftermarket head unit too much of a worry… although Hyundai says they will go full mechless as early as 2018, clearly showing the Territory’s end of an era technology – No bluetooth either is an indication too.
The Climate control unit is quite superb and vents are decently sized with good air flow. Steering wheel controls are excellent and positioned well. The infotainment screen (which isn’t a touch screen – again an era thing) is better than some brand new ones. Information is clearly displayed. Pixels have colour and not the standard green and black of the 2000’s.
A favourite feature of mine is the screen background switching from grey to black when headlights are on which makes night time driving a breeze with the minimal light coming from the screen. The infotainment screen is positioned rather high compared to cars of the same era which makes it easy to glance at when driving. The air-con features large buttons while the infotainment screen is accompanied by smaller buttons that are too close to the screen. This means all Territory Ghia’s will have scratches at the bottom of the screen from fingers pressing those too close buttons. Overall the centre stack was designed well but I feel this would have been a good chance for Ford to make improvements over the BA Falcon interior which the SX Tezza adopted.
The 4L Barra L6 is brilliant although mated to an A4 trans means fuel consumption was sub-par years ago. Towing capabilities are excellent. The engine has had some problems in the SUV that may not be shared by the Falcon. Transmission and radiator problems are common although an NRMA Motor Serve mechanic mentioned that the 4 speed is less problematic than the SY’s 6 speed and that the SX’s radiator issues have a far more severe failure in the younger models. Sequential shifting is enjoyable and easy to operate but you have no idea what gear the automatic transmission is in until you shift gears meaning you can get a bit of a shock if you unknowingly shift to 1st.
An interesting point to note about the interior is the door handles, literally handles. They’re nice to hold on too when sitting in a passenger seat and I wish more cars would have them. The materials for them are cheap and nasty though. The stainless steel coloured plastic wrap can have air bubbles and edges of the plastic piece can become jiggered and sharp. The rubber backing has become a humorous topic amongst members of the facebook owners group with many noting the deterioration from constant use. The interior trim/colour is called Eucalyptus but the colours are grey, grey, grey, greeny-grey and grey. Not the most eye catching. The grey doesn’t fade with age all either.
Exterior wise, the SX is the most beautiful Tezza and probably the best looking SUV for its time. Still to this day the Territory still looks both beautiful, classy and tough. The only indication for the age of its design is the large fog lights and no DRL’s.
Overall the handling of the Territory is its biggest positive and has to be the talking point for the car. Many have noted a change of feel for the steering with the SZ Territory making the SX a gem to still own.
Sadly I can’t give an answer to “What I’d like to see in future models” as I am yet to see what an SY to SZ MkII has to offer and there will be no more Territory after 2016 but the missing infotainment features would have made the list if I did this review in 2005. After sitting in a brand new Grand Cherokee and marvelling at its moon-roof, I’ve wished the Territory had one too. Different interior colour options would have been nice and maybe piano black or mahogany wood trim would have helped it take on the higher priced luxury rivals.
The SX Territory is the choice of the SUV’s of the naughties decade. The ageing infotainment system is ideal for those not fussed on the bells and whistles of today’s cars and the handling means the driving will be just as enjoyable. The 6 stacker is good for changing songs on the go (can change song and disc with steering wheel buttons too) and large buttons make it ideal for older drivers. Visibility and reversing sensors make parking a breeze. I see the SX, SY and SYII Territory’s becoming a favourite amongst retirees on a used SUV budget for those cross-country caravanning journeys and grandchild minding adventures.
If you can find a well looked after SX, enjoy a good drive and fuel consumption isn’t the biggest worry then I say you will enjoy every minute of ownership. Make sure to check its service history as with all used cars just in case any of those first generation problems show up.