Car reviews - Ford - Territory - 5-dr wagon range
Superb six-speed auto on AWD models, great overall packaging, dynamics and driveability, chunky good looks
Room for improvement
No six-speed on RWD models, fuel economy still not great, where’s the diesel?
14 Oct 2005
Not quite, but the new six-speed automatic Ford Territory comes damn close to being virtually as good for most folk who’ll also appreciate it costing half the price.
And one Ford engineer is happy to claim it as the best SUV in the Ford world – and that includes luxury 4WDs like Volvo’s XC90 and the Range Rover.
Big claims, and ones no doubt made with the base TX AWD’s $43,990 asking price firmly in mind.
Yet the six-speed Territory deserves better than this slightly condescending qualifier. Forget about tall poppies we should be thankful to have such an accessible world-class SUV period.
As you’d have guessed, six-speeds broadens the Territory’s driving horizons considerably.
Now there are more gears to make the most of a 190kW 4.0-litre twin-cam six-cylinder engine that breathes better than the outgoing 182kW version for greater low-down torque and easier high-end tractability.
Slightly better fuel consumption is another bonus.
And the six-speed gearbox further rounds out a remarkably adept Australian family car.
Now it has the gearbox flexibility to handle sharp cornering duties with just that bit more finesse. You may recall that one of the Territory’s greatest assets is its responsive and perfectly weighted steering system.
That old cliché of this car shrinking around you rings very true when you’re hurtling this 1.8-tonne wagon with such ease and alacrity.
On the open road the taller top gear also means the engine makes a relaxing as well as rewarding grand tourer. Don’t forget that there is also a very sophisticated independent suspension set-up lurking underneath.
So it’s an even bigger shame then that the fuel consumption hasn’t fallen further.
It just makes you wish Ford could offer a suitable turbo-diesel version right now. Imagine how complete an SUV the SY would be.
Nevertheless, by comparison, BMW’s next-generation X5, due sometime in 2006, had better justify its heady price difference.
Diesels and performance V8 X5 models aside, today’s six-speed Territory runs it very close indeed.
Meanwhile the revised 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine – now dubbed Barra 190 on account of its 190kW of power – feels smoother and more responsive than before.
Even in the four-speed automatic two-wheel drive Territory – which is basically the same package that’s wowed the public and the press for nigh-on one-and-a-half years – the overall drive is still a refreshing and extremely competent one.
Ford says it isn’t yet ready to market the six-speed auto with rear-wheel drive in the Territory, as the engineering changes are quite extensive indeed.
With that combination the big Ford SUV will shine even brighter.
But even as it stands, you won’t find a better-value SUV than the SY Territory. And with the six-speed box, you’ll have to travel very far and wide to find a better-driving one.
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