October of 2016 was a sad month for us all, when Ford Australia announced it would discontinue the production of the Falcon, and sadly, the Territory. Two great cars where now simply erased from the factory. It was a huge blow to the Australian car industry as frankly, the SZ Territory is a fantastic car.
I'll begin with a quick history lesson. The Ford Territory first appeared on our streets in April, 2004. Its arrival caused a stir amongst the public, and rightly so. It was the first Australian designed SUV, and even won Wheels car of the year (being the first SUV to gain this coveted award).
The original SX/SY models (2004-2011) were based on the EA169 platform (belonging to the BA Falcon), which likened its handling to that of a mid-sized sedan and not a bulky SUV. This also gave it great practicality, and is particularly evident in the newer SZ models.
Now, I do not own an SZ Territory myself. However it has been our family car over the past few years, so I do know my way around a Territory! My parents love it for the huge boot, great handling and its all-round package.
The Territory's 2.7L Duratorq V6-T diesel is getting on in age, but that doesn't affect its performance. With 141kW and 440Nm of torque, it can easily overtake on the highway, and can tow whatever type of caravan you're taking on holiday. This particular engine is not actually Australian, but was designed in Europe specifically for uses in Jaguar, Citroen and Land Rover. You will find this engine in the Discovery 3, and the L320 Range Rover Sport, among others. As its of an old design, expect quite a lot of black smoke swirling around the street when it's cold!
The fuel economy is pretty good for a mid-sized SUV. Ford say it will achieve an average of 8.2L per 100km, which is fine for a car of this size. However, I rarely achieve this figure – with ours ending up using around 9L/100km. It's not horrendous, of course, but could be better.
It can run from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds and has a smooth six-speed automatic gearbox. It's surprisingly fun to drive up twisting mountain roads, all thanks to its car-like characteristics. You can knock it into Sport, and the transmission will hold the gears for just that little bit longer to help you get down the ranges.
From the outside, the SZ MkII Territory Titanium is a real head-turner. Being the Titanium model, it has 18-inch dark grey alloys and stylish side-rails which tie the whole car together. You also get rather dark tinted glass, which is great for keeping the car cool when left in the sun, and also provides a bit of privacy, if you need it!
Front fog lights are also included, which work extremely well at lighting up the road and seeing around the next bend. These replaced the daytime running lights you got on the MkI SZ, which in my opinion, Ford should have kept for the updated model.
Moving into the interior, you will find a simple, yet classy layout with black leather and white stitching, which beautifully accentuates the car. And if black leather isn't to your liking, for no extra cost, Ford would have happily provided a dark, tan colour instead. Being a seven-seater, the car has loads of room and compartments to put all types of items in, including a shoe tray under the driver's seat!
Now, when I say the boot is big, I mean it. The Territory has a whopping 1153L of space, with the second row up! This is class-leading, with the only other SUV that comes close being the Discovery 4 (1124L). To put this into perspective, the Toyota Kluger only has a mere 529L – that's less than half the space in the Territory!
The SZ MkII Titanium comes with Ford's Sync 2 system, which includes a large touchscreen, satellite navigation, voice control, DAB radio, two-zone climate control and Bluetooth. On top of this, the car also features a rear entertainment system for the kids for those long highway drives. You also get a rear-view camera and parking sensors for the front and back. As a sign of its age however, the Territory doesn't include Apple CarPlay and nor do you get some of the more modern safety features (e.g. lane departure warning)
The interior does have its drawbacks. You'll find a lot of harsh plastics which feel really unpleasant and detract from the overall appeal when inside. Also as stated above, there are no safety systems such as automatic braking, which is a real letdown for the car.
The Territory receives the maximum five-star safety rating easily, with seven airbags for the driver and passenger, driver's knee, drivers and passengers side airbags and curtain airbags which stretch to the second row. However, the third row doesn't receive any love, and has no airbags. This is a big thumbs-down if you're planning to use it extensively and detracts from the car's overall score.
The car has been reliable almost all of the time, with never any large and expensive problems arising. However, we have had a few issues with the central-locking system not working correctly. It doesn't completely fail, but sometimes we have to press the unlock button a few times for it to open, and vice-versa when locking the car. This isn't a catastrophic problem, but these types of niggles can become annoying after a while!
While the car may not be a road-burner, and nor does it have the most refined engine and interior, it's still an excellent family SUV that does the job properly. It looks grown-up, is extremely practical and is excellent value for money if you're looking on the second-hand market.
So, now it comes to the big question, 'should you buy an SZ Territory?'
Well, the answer is... definitely.