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Car reviews - Ford - Territory - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

Ford logo12 May 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

FORD’S has given its SY Territory a Mark II facelift, bringing cosmetic and feature changes – plus marginally better fuel economy on RWD models – to the one-time class-leading medium SUV that has been relegated to also-ran status in recent times.

The Territory was a Ford Australia success story after its 2004 introduction, when the imagination of the SUV-obsessed market was fired by the home-grown product’s versatility, handling acumen (for an SUV, at least) and chunky but not overtly bush-bashing styling.

If ever Ford struck a chord with the market that left Holden floundering, this was it.

A car manufacturer usually expects a new model to do its best volume early in the production cycle, and Ford must now look wistfully at Territory’s robust sales in 2005, when 23,454 copies were sold.

The market’s romance with Territory faded in 2007, with sales falling to 17,290 units and 23.2 per cent of the medium SUV market, and then to 12,882 units (17.1 per cent) in 2008 when it was overtaken for the segment lead by Toyota’s medium SUV duo, the Prado (14,725 units) and Kluger (13,424 units).

This year, things are not looking any better for Territory. To the end of April, it sits fourth behind Prado, Kluger and Captiva.

In a world mindful of petrol prices and concerns about the environment, the fact that economical diesel engines are such a popular choice in Prado and Captiva might explain the sales decline, but it does not explain the healthy sales of the Kluger, powered exclusively by a V6 petrol engine.

The Kluger, seemingly the petrol V6 medium SUV of the moment, is the Territory’s most natural competitor. It is still a relatively fresh model, although it is now almost three years old. Still, the relatively new Kluger appears to garner sales that the Territory clearly cannot.

The SY Territory Mark II is essentially a lightly facelifted model with minor other improvements.

The key visual change is the new nose design, with a new bonnet, headlights, grille and bumper. Side mouldings and tail-lights are also new.

The interior gets new seat materials and other cosmetic detail changes.

In addition, the TS and Ghia interiors have a choice of standard Shadow charcoal or the new Cashmere cream interior, which first featured last year in the FG Falcon.

The 24-valve inline 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine continues unchanged in Territory TX, TS and Ghia, with the same outputs: 190kW at 5250rpm and 383Nm at 2500rpm. The Territory Ghia Turbo engine outputs also remain at 245kW at 5250rpm and 480Nm at 2000rpm.

As before, the RWD models are offered with a four-speed automatic, while the AWD gets a six-speed automatic. The fuel consumption of RWD models is improved, thanks to a new catalytic converter, revised software calibration, improved aerodynamics and reduced kerb weight.

Fuel consumption for the RWD versions of the TX and TS five-seaters is down five per cent or 0.6L/100km, to 11.6L/100km on the combined cycle. The thirst of the rest of the RWD range is down 0.2L/100km or 1.6 per cent.

The AWD versions also have these mechanical changes, but unlike the RWD models, these changes do not improve claimed fuel consumption figures remaining at a claimed 12.5L/100km.

The RWD’s weight reductions do not occur across all models. For example, Ford says that the TX models move from steel wheels to alloy wheels, which saves weight, but Ghia weight increases slightly because of additional items such as the rear DVD player and the larger diameter wheels, up from 17-inch to 18-inch.

The entry-level Territory TX now comes with new standard features such as cruise control, side curtain airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels and body-colour painted bumpers, door handles and mirrors.

The mid-spec Territory TS now features leather-wrapped steering wheel, handbrake and gearshift surround, third-row seating, front fog lights, reverse parking camera and the body-colour paint treatment as per the TX. The alloy wheel design is new.

The two Ghia models (Ghia and Ghia Turbo) get rear privacy glass, third-row seating, Alpine rear DVD system, side steps, mirror-mounted side repeaters, a front guard garnish and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The top-of-the-range Ghia Turbo also gets its own new 18-inch alloy wheel design.

Third-row seating, where standard, can be substituted with a five-seat configuration as a no-cost option, although Ford says it has broadened the fitment of the third row due to its popularity.

Like its predecessor, the SY Territory Mark II is equipped with dual front airbags, side and side curtain airbags (for front and middle rows only) and ABS brakes with brake-force distribution and dynamic stability control across the model line-up.

The Territory TX price has gone up $1500 to $39,490 for the RWD four-speed auto, while prices of the rest of the range have been increased between $500 and $1500, depending on model.

The Territory Turbo has been deleted from the range, leaving the premium $66,420 Ghia Turbo as the only turbocharged Territory in the seven-model line-up.

Eleven exterior colours are offered: Winter White, Ego grey, Velvet red, Lightening Strike silver, Mystic green, Seduce red, Kashmir gold (until July 2009), Steel blue, Silhouette black, Harmony blue and Sensation blue.

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