As Australia’s first and only properly designed and built SUV, the Territory brought a raft of new safety features not yet seen on any other Australian-built car at the time, and gave our nation yet another vehicle to be proud of.
Sure, there was the Holden Adventra, which itself was the right car for Holden, but was brought in at the wrong time and with the wrong engine offering (V8 only). Ford however, nailed it with the Territory. A proper full-size SUV with 7-seat capability and with good features, a more extensive model offering, competitive pricing and handsome looks. The Territory is blessed with Ford Australia’s early 2000’s styling, which still presents a modern looking car, even though they’re already 14 years old.
Compared to the early 2004 models, the 2008 and onwards seriously looks much cleaner and far nicer. That's not to say that the early models don’t look good, but they just seem a little more subtle in design, regardless of the grade you purchased. By 2008 the SYII was out and a new special edition was on showroom floors, the SR2. Gaining a unique look, the SR2 brought more features over the base model TX without having to pay the price tag of the Ghia, yet not being too generous to knock out the mid-level TS.
So in terms of looks, the Territory SR2 gained a unique, sporty look. The front was shared with the base TX, with the colour-coded bumper and no foglamps. The headlights are big and have the chrome backing smoked for a sportier appeal, with a little chrome garnish underneath. The front grille is small and has a nice, subtle chrome surround. A larger grille sits to the bottom of the top grille, with a big colour-coded piece where the number plate sits.
The side is where more of the uniqueness of the exterior came to be. The large 18-inch 7-spoke alloy rims gave a sporty appearance to the Territory, but the black plastic door handles were a bit of a letdown. There's not much more to the side of car, and to the rear it also isn't so different. Apart from the SR2 badging, the rear looked like any other Territory model. There are rear parking sensors, however.
The interior gains a nice unique feature; the partial leather seats. They look good and are comfortable to sit on, keeping you in place if you decide to take a corner faster than you should. The driver's seat gets partial electric adjustment, but the rest is all manual levers. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, and so is the gear shifter and handbrake. The centre dash is pretty basic Ford stuff, with a grey plastic surrounding the climate control and audio buttons. The dash is a hard touch plastic which is a let down, but is due to poor material quality of the soft touch plastic. However, the top of the door trims are soft-touch plastic and there is leather padding for where your arm would rest, so that's a benefit.
The steering wheel is multi-function, allowing you to change the song or volume as well as set the cruise control. Feature-wise there is a 6-stack CD player, single zone climate control, rear air-vents, a roof-mounted TV and the seven seats. Factory fitted is a Bluetooth phone system which is meant to allow you make calls, however it has been found a little faulty when trying to connect a Samsung to the system.
Safety is important, and the Territory isn’t short in that list. There are two airbags (front impact), rear parking sensors, ABS, Traction Control, Electronic Stability, Corner Braking and EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution).
Powering the old beast is the trusty 4.0-litre inline 6 which produces a healthy 190kW and 383Nm of torque, mated to a 4-speed auto and driven via the rear wheels. The 6-speed auto was an option, however this one did not have it. Fuel economy is poor, even by the standards of when this car was new. The 75-litre tank will get you around 450 kilometres a tank, chugging about 14.2 litres per 100 kilometres in the city. But like every Australian big 6 (or 8), once on the highway these things roar to life and their economy is greatly improved. The Territory will dip below the acclaimed average of 9.6L/100km, getting about 8.8L/100km which could get you around 800km per tank.
As mentioned earlier, the seats are comfortable. Whether driving to the shops or going on a long drive, there is enough support and adjustment. Both front seats get height adjustment and lumbar support, meaning that finding the right driving position isn’t hard, even if the seating position is higher than normal. The suspension tuning is superior to other SUV’s of the time, because of the fact this is an Aussie car for an Aussie country.
The ride is comfortable, with the Terri soaking up bumps with ease. With its smaller car characteristics, it's easy to have a bit of fun taking a corner hard or launching it from a complete stop. Road noise is low, which makes it more appealing and family friendly. Just look out for suspension issues, as that is what really plagued most Territory’s, but also avoid the first of the series, such as the SX and SY, where some quality and mechanical issues were known but were stamped out by the SYII and SZ series.
The good thing about the Territory is the fact that it is just a raised Falcon. That makes it appealing to all ages; its power, practicality, safety and features. For the young, it's a go-fast SUV that can carry all their mates to the coast and look “cool” when driving around town. For families it has all the room and the safety of a large car. For the elderly, it has the decent step in height and ease of driving plus ownership. All this makes the Territory a good purchase, but if anything, go for the SZ for its better tech and diesel engine.