Owner Review

2006 Ford Territory TS (4x4) review

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I bought the Territory TS AWD seven-seater new in 2007 and it has now done nearly 200,000km in a little over 10 years.

I purchased it for business and used it as my daily driver for over five years. Because the Territory was still in good condition and is such an excellent and useful vehicle, we decided to hold onto it and she-who-must-be-obeyed (SWMBO) now happily uses it as her daily drive.

When purchased, our offspring were still young and we often used it for carting friends, family, cousins, grandparents, sporting teammates, et cetera around and regularly made use of the seven seats and luggage space.

On more than one occasion we easily fitted in the driver and six lanky teenage baseball players and there was plenty of room behind the third row for the kit bags.

Now that the offspring have their own cars, it is surprising how often they want to borrow it for activities with their friends, to save taking a second car. Then there are the trips to Bunnings and other places when the rear space is appreciated. Just recently we all went overseas and easily fitted all the luggage for the trip to and from the airport.

The thing that still impresses about the car is how easy it is to drive. The large deep windows and big rear vision mirrors, parking sensors and tight (11.4m) turning circle make it easy to pilot around the streets and to park. SWMBO is not a tall woman and appreciates this feature.

I’ve never really missed not having a rear-view camera. When I bought the car it was an expensive option and it just stretched the budget a little too much.

The ride is smooth and controlled regardless of the load, the steering is well weighted and accurate and for such a large and heavy vehicle it handles very well. Cruising on the highways is superb. Last year SWMBO and I drove from Melbourne to Sydney in one day and did the trip with ease and no aches or stiffness after many hours behind the wheel.

The seats are very comfortable, front and rear. Ford deserves all the accolades it receives for its chassis tuning with this car; recent reviews still rate the Territory as up there with the best.

It may seem a little strange that I consider fuel economy and running costs as a positive, but bear with me. In busy Sydney traffic we have averaged over the life of the car 15-15.5L/100km and cruising the highway, with a load of passengers and gear, around 10L/100km.

I’ve always thought that if fuel economy was your priority, then you wouldn’t buy a two-tonne vehicle with a four-litre engine and considering the mass and engine size, I think the fuel consumption is quite reasonable.

Being a locally made car, parts are readily available and reasonably priced. Last service we had the front brakes done for the third time and even after another machining it still has the original rotors. The rear brakes have only been done once at about 140,000km.

I have kept using the OE Goodyear Fortera tyres and I get at least 60,000km from a set. Again for a big car, I find that acceptable. The car steers well on them, they’re quiet and excellent in the rain and snow. Service costs every 12 months or 15,000km are reasonable, as long as you find a good independent mechanic and stay away from the usual incompetent and overpriced Ford dealer service.

This car suffered from the front lower ball joint suspension and diff housing bush issues that are common in the SX and SY series. I was never aware of any problems when driving with the LBJs, but the diff bushes split and produced a loud thumping noise when you hit a bump. Both of these problems were fixed under warranty or recall programs and the new designs for the parts seem to have fixed them. I make sure that they are inspected every service and there have not been any further issues.

Recently the ZF six-speed gearbox was getting a little sluggish and indecisive, so we bit the bullet and had a major service and fluid change on the transmission and it is now shifting smoothly once again, with a responsive kick down.

We also had the transmission cooling system replaced at the same time, as this is a well-known weak spot and if it fails, it can mix coolant with the transmission fluid. If that happens, say goodbye gearbox, hello milkshake. I think with the years and kilometres on the car, this was necessary and worthwhile preventative maintenance.

Among the accessories fitted are the auxiliary audio input, with 3.5mm audio jack and the Ford integrated Bluetooth. These are both very useful, but also highlight what is my biggest gripe.

The supposedly “Premium Sound System” would be more accurately described as the “Mediocre Sound System”. It has seven speakers including a seven-inch subwoofer in the rear, with an amplifier under the front passenger seat. The sound is muddy and lacks definition and clarity across the spectrum and is rather disappointing. I’ve driven many other cars with a basic four-speaker system that sound much better. It seems that the tuner and amp are quite good, but let down by cheap speakers. Maybe one day I’ll update it.

The car also has electrically adjustable pedals, thinking that SWMBO would find this useful, but with the range of adjustment in the seat and steering column, we found it was never used. Ford dropped the option soon afterwards.

Another design feature I would have liked to see would be the third row split 50/50, for more convenience and flexibility for passengers and luggage, but we have managed to work around that.

The car has been pretty reliable and the only time I was stranded was when the starter motor failed. Fortunately I was at home when it happened, not out in the middle of nowhere.

The other things replaced, apart from consumables, are the driver’s seat base frame, cracked from too many big bums landing on it, a broken handbrake cable and a bit of trim on the tailgate came loose that sometimes prevented it from latching but that was easily fixed.

The tailgate glass hinges were replaced under warranty as they were misaligned and a new hinge design allowed for more adjustment. A full account of the epic saga to get that properly resolved would take too long and open too many wounds. Let me just say that the dealer service department demonstrated new and unimaginable depths of incompetence.

Lastly, the auto function for the headlights stopped working and they had to switched on and off manually. This is a common fault and the auto electrician I use carries the parts in stock as he usually does one or two each week on Territories or Falcons. If Ford made the wire loom 2mm longer and used a more flexible plastic on the insulation, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The big torquey straight-six still starts easily and runs smoothly, the gearbox is fine now, the air conditioning is still very effective on the hottest days, the seats and trim are wearing well, there is no rust and all the switches and controls function as well as ever. We really have no reason yet to trade it in.

I’m at a bit of a loss as what will replace it when the time eventually comes, as there really is nothing like it that ticks all the boxes for me. Perhaps a well maintained petrol 2016 model Territory?