AFTER much recent hype, the new seven-seat Ford Territory SUV has arrived as one of the most important vehicles in Ford's line-up.
Customer demand to test the new SZ Territory has been overwhelming but Pacific Ford in Maroochydore permitted me a brief drive to assess its chances in the crowded mid-size SUV market.
Good looks, good diesel
First impressions mean plenty and the big Ford is a looker. The outgoing Territory was an attractively-styled offering. Its successor continues the trend with a sharp and funky design and a Ford Ranger-esque front grille and muscled bodywork.
While the old Territory was petrol only, a new 2.7-litre common rail V6 turbo-diesel is offered, alongside a straight-six 4.0-litre petrol – with the oil-burner looking the sensible choice, with its impressive 440Nm of torque and fuel economy at 8.2-litres/100km.
On the Sunshine Coast, the drive-away for an entry-level Territory TX petrol is $44,397 – but my test vehicle weighed in at $63,946 drive away in diesel rear-wheel-drive Titanium guise. The range tops out at $69,121 for an all-wheel drive diesel Titanium.
Top spec luxury
They are not cheap but the flagship Titanium models are excellently appointed.
My Territory featured leather interior, roof-mounted DVD player, colour touch screen with sat nav, reverse camera and the all-important third row of seats.
It still feels very Ford-like inside – and not as premium as its pricier Euro rivals – but this takes little away from what is an attractive and quality cabin in the Territory.
Interior space is superb for both front and rear passengers, while a cosy third row of seats is a great option for those with small kids.
On the road
The Territory is a big car but handles and performs as well as many smaller offerings. Ford has worked hard to deliver an excellent chassis here for the SUV segment – and when combined with the torquey diesel power plant, the Territory makes for a rewarding steer.
At highway speed it was smooth and quiet and throwing it into a few easy turns, its poise proved surprisingly good. Of particular note was the electronic power steering. It is ludicrously lightweight, making it almost too easy to drive.
Being picky, the throttle response was not instant but improved when in sequential gear mode, when the driver can take better charge of the six-speed auto. As for the colour of my test vehicle? Ford seems to like this Havana hue but I'm not convinced.
Even the lower-priced TX and TS models in the new Territory range (below the tested Titanium) enjoy commendably high specs in terms of gadgets and safety – and at a competitive price.
I was spoilt in the Titanium with all its toys (that naturally come at a higher price) but the bones of the new Territory suggest that any in the range will impress. First impressions are the new Territory is a success story waiting to happen for Ford.
Model: 2011 Ford SZ Territory TDCi Titanium.
Details: Five door rear-wheel drive, seven-seat mid-size sports utility vehicle.
Engine: 2.7-litre common rail turbo-diesel V6 generating maximum power of 140kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 440Nm @ 1900rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Sequential Sports Shift.
Towing capacity: Up to 2700kg.
Bottom line: $63,946 drive away RRP from Pacific Ford, Sugar Rd, Maroochydore, 1300634390.
www.pacificmotorgroup.com.au. Territory SZ range starts from $44,397 drive-away.
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