Web Spin: Ford Territory TX AWD

Charting New Territory

Test Vehicle: Ford Territory TX AWD

• Five-Seat, All-Wheel-Drive Wagon
• 4.0 Litre, DOHC VCT I6
• 4 Speed Automatic with Sequential Shift

Options/Accessories Available in Range

• Hill Descent Control (requires Cruise Control)
• RWD only (lower cost option)
• Cruise Control
• Sump Guard
• Various external luggage racks

The Ford Territory has certainly put the swagger back into Ford Australia’s marketing department. After some years in the doldrums, Ford are now back at the big end of town with Falcon (BA) back in the good books and a Medium 4WD that now ‘owns’ the market segment, displacing even Toyota’s robust Prado and the slightly softer Kluger.

Generally lavished with praise by the motoring press for achieving its objective as a true Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), the Ford Territory has been lovingly embraced by the Australian car buying public to the point where, for every two Falcons sold, Ford sells one Territory.

Eager to either confirm or dispel the hype, we took our own test vehicle for a long distance foray up the East Coast to Brisbane via scenic Byron Bay. Although mainly long stretches of bitumen, there were several opportunities to stray off the beaten track and extend the normal limits of an urban dwelling 4WD.

Around town, the Territory is every bit as easy to steer as a decent sized sedan. The trademark high driving position of any 4WDis there, without the awkwardness of the really big units like Landcruiser and Patrol. Despite its added weight (Territory tops the scale at 2 tonnes empty) it delivers respectable acceleration and once the big four litre six gets motoring, open road touring is quite effortless. Yes, Territory shares exactly the same engine as the Falcon, namely the stalwart 4.0 litre, 24 valve straight six that kicks out 182 kW and churns a whopping 380Nm of torque.

As readers of OUTthere will note, we’ve had our bottoms in several of the leading 4WDs recently, and Territory is a stand-out for plain, honest enjoyable driving. The long-legged powertrain and transmission doesn’t need, or really want to be driven hard. The sequential change override on the four-speed auto box allows you to exercise some control over the changing pattern for the ups-and-downs, which will come in handy if you are running heavy in hilly terrain or towing.

Seating and internal fittings are just fine thank you. My many middle-age ailments quickly alert me to any inadequacies in the seating department and, thankfully, even the entry-level upholstery was sufficient for me to enjoy a full day in the saddle without the need for remedial physio. Around the 5-seater cabin are more storage nooks than any normal person could possibly remember. Suggest you assign these to individual occupants, as you are sure to loose track of things eventually (especially in middle age!). A seven-seat layout is optional with a hideable/foldable pair available for the rear luggage area.

An unusual departure for this genre of vehicle is the lower cost option of a Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) only format. This choice dispenses with the extra front transmission box and its added weight. However, you do loose some of the finer features of the Acutrac system, in particular the option of the Hill Descent Control (HDC). The $4,000 saving is a useful consideration given that most Territories sold will be limited to modest suburban duties far removed from the rigours of outback trailblazers.

Always a bugbear with any 4WD is the burden of fuel consumption. There aren’t too many petrol 4WDs that can boast about their fuel economy and the Territory is no exception. Even though you can expect slightly better economy with the RWD option, you’ll still need to drive very carefully to get even 13litres/100kms on the open road. Thoughtless careening around the city will cost you; expect up to 20litres/100kms.

In spite of its minor drawbacks, the Territory is a homegrown success story. In particular, Ford have pinpointed the Aussie buyers’ likes and dislikes in the modern 4WD/AWD and scratch-built a car accordingly.

We liked:

• Great value for money
• Easy and enjoyable to drive.
• Roomy, comfortable and versatile interior
• Good range of standard features and optional extras that enhance safety, driver comfort and flexibility.

We weren’t so thrilled about:

• Fuel consumption
• Some suspension and body-fit noises.
• No manual transmission available

Standard Features

• 182kW 4.0L 6 cylinder engine
• Auto transmission with Sequential Sports Shift (SSS)
• Driver and front passenger airbags
• Acutrac Plus system incorporating ABS, traction control and Dynamic Stability Control
• Air conditioning
• 4-way power driver's seat
• Power windows and mirrors
• Power adjustable foot pedals
• CD player
• Over 30 storage compartments
• Optional seating for seven passengers
• Optional Hill Descent Control
• Up to 2300kg towing capacity

Report by Rod Eime.

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buy a used or new ford explorer from a factory dealer in great condition. It's a four wheel drive or 4wd for use off road or in the outback. try an SUV