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Car reviews - Ford - Territory - TX RWD 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Well thought-out interior, dynamics, ride quality, performance
Room for improvement
Fuel economy, transmission shift quality

18 Jan 2010

THE fact of modern life is that safety requirements and the desire to carry stuff mean that we drive heavier, bigger vehicles. No wonder SUVs such as the Ford Territory are so popular.

We had the opportunity to test the base Territory, the TX RWD five-seat, over 1200km in the typical Aussie Christmas migration to the interstate relatives, with all its load area, trays and cubbies loaded to the brim with holiday stuff.

With booster seats, childseats and capsules for the brood, space is required. Many small and medium cars simply will not accommodate the seats and all the holiday gear. We had two booster seats and an adult fitting comfortably across the Territory’s rear bench, which is the crucial test failed by many smaller wagons.

The split tailgate is such a boon when the child’s toy you’ve thrown on top of the luggage in the cargo area is suddenly and urgently required before departure. Ford has made the opening hatch solid, with a frame around the glass.

So SUVs such as the Ford Territory have an instant appeal to family types or indeed anyone who is obliged to lug people or stuff around.

The Territory provides a good lesson in how to design a modern interior. Although it was conceived more than six years ago, and has plenty of BA Falcon DNA, the the Territory interior functionality makes us wonder why other manufacturers cannot or will not do it nearly as well.

Storage space is so simple, with large cubby spaces with soft-touch grippy rubberised surfaces and shaped so your phone, keys or whatever don’t tip off into the footwell or disappear into the deep recesses of the dash.

The lockable tray under the driver’s seat, the large clear space under the seats and the clever, simple rear seat folding mechanism are all pluses. Even the five-seater’s underfloor storage compartment in the cargo area - ideal for wet items - has sufficient depth for more than a wet towel.

The rear seat folds easily to create a flat loading floor, and the tall cabin allows a high load, secured by handy cargo tie-down points.

The cabin is not only practical for storage but also comfortable. Seats are supportive, the dash simple and easy to read and the mirrors usefully large.

The dash has a strong Falcon theme, with much of the switchgear and controls originating from the 2002 BA Falcon. This is where you begin to feel that your new car isn’t the newest around.

It would be good if Ford included parking sensors as standard, too.

Despite this lack of equipment and plain interior, the Territory is good value, and with the monotone paint scheme and alloy wheels standard from SYII, it’s harder to pick the Territory’s base model.

Although handling will not be the first priority for many Territory buyers, they will respect the Territory’s well-sorted dynamics.

Less tyre grip and more body roll are the obvious disadvantages, but Territory is still streets ahead of most competitors with their ponderous handling.

The inline six-cylinder engine is responsive and smooth but drinks like a disgraced football player.

Although it rarely feels wanting for urge, the Territory has a prodigious thirst, chugging down about 21L/100km when towing and 20L/100km in stop-start inner city traffic. These are the sort of consumption figures expected from a 6.0-litre V8.

Yet the Territory’s 4.0-litre six improves significantly in easier goingt. In outer urban driving, rolling along at 80km/h, 12.5L/100km is easily achieved.

On the freeway, sitting on 100km/h but fully laden, consumption dropped to 9.1L/100km on test.

The four-speed automatic used only in the RWD version of Territory (the AWD has a six-speed) is not the smoothest of transmissions, with the occasional whine and clunk that reminds you of a Falcon taxi.

The Territory TX RWD is a vehicle that Ford got so right in most aspects that count – nimble, quick, comfortable and practical to boot.

Yet the Territory could be improved in a crucial aspect: its powertrain. A turbo-diesel V6 engine and a better transmission – and perhaps a proper facelift inside and out – can’t come fast enough.

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