Driving the Ford Territory Ghia is like driving a BA Falcon sedan – only the Territory is better due to its high seating position and enhanced visibility. The power is there, the handling is certainly there and so is the interior room, plus plenty of useful features.
Released in early 2004, the all-Australian designed and manufactured Territory has certainly won its fair share of awards. Ford has incorporated an all-wheel-drive wagon and a straightforward people mover into the one design, delivering two Territory models. People who don’t plan to leave the bitumen can save a few dollars and opt for the 2WD Territory, while those of us who like off-roading or a run up the beach will go for the AWD. There are also three variations to choose from – the base TX model, the TS and the top-of-the-line Ghia.
Standard features throughout the Territory range include air-conditioning, automatic transmission, power windows, split-fold flat stack rear seating, front air bags, ABS, central locking, keyless entry, and a storage system that provides a lot of smart nooks and crannies (30 in all) including a removable rear rubbish receptacle. The Territory’s dash layout is very simple but effective. The test vehicle – the top-of-range Ghia – had a prominent Interior Command Centre that showed the status of the dual-zone air-conditioning, fuel usage and outside air temperature in a centrally-mounted and easily monitored unit.
The red Territory Ghia All-Wheel-Drive wagon was certainly a head turner, and when I started driving it I soon understood why the Territory has achieved so much in so little time, so far as awards are concerned. I picked the car up in peak-hour traffic in the city, and it took only 30 seconds for me to familiarise myself with it before settling down to enjoy the drive. The very responsive 4-litre DOHC ‘Barra’ 6-cylinder engine mated to an extremely energetic ‘tiptronic’ style auto unit offers undetectable full auto and manual gear changes.
I was impressed with the simplicity of the overall design of the Territory, both interior and exterior. The clever design is simple and very practical – factors that aren’t always available in today’s SUVs.
The Territory is large but not too large. At the shopping centre it’s a cinch to park, which contrasts with the ordeal you have to go through with a much larger seven-seater 4WD to get it aligned properly.
The Territory’s high seating and command-style driving position evoke a feeling of security that will have strong appeal to buyers in this hotly-contested but rapidly-expanding segment of the motoring market. The reviewed Ghia will carry seven people on three rows of seats (the third row is optional) and has a towing capacity of 2300kg. That’s a lot of boat or camper trailer.
Ground clearance is reasonable, at around 178mm, and with a 23° approach and 19.8° departure angle you can make the most of the Territory’s Acu Trac Plus ride and handling system to venture off road. The full-time AWD system continuously delivers torque to all four wheels, with the traction control system in reserve for slippery or boggy conditions. Running up the beach or along a bush track to a favourite freshwater fishing area won’t be a problem, but naturally, without low range you can only go so far into the rough stuff. Just exercise a degree of caution when you’re driving off road.
This car really shines on the highway. The willing fuel-injected in-line six delivers 182kW of power and 380 Nm of torque, and thanks to 235 X60 R17 alloy wheels the power gets to the ground very smartly. The steering wheel feels just right, and the high driving position and very supportive seating makes long stints at the wheel a pleasure. The steering wheel also has buttons for the sound system and cruise control.
Another useful feature was the Ghia’s rear proximity reversing alarm. If you’re reversing towards a solid object an alarm chirps a warning.
I found the Territory even better to drive than the wife’s Falcon. Interior noise is negligible, with just a little tyre noise coming off certain sections of coarse bitumen. On gravel roads or better tracks the Territory was indeed quiet, with the steering feedback free and precise. Thanks to all-wheel-drive and the efficiency of the Acu Trac system, the Territory inspires confidence with a firm but gentle ride and precise handling. On loose gravel the rear of the car can be made to dance just a little, but it quickly corrects itself.
The Territory’s front seats are large, and rear passengers also enjoy plenty of room with ample leg space. On the Ghia model, the rear of the console between the front seats has air-conditioning controls plus a power outlet for phone chargers, games and the like. The row of third seats are probably best suited to a couple of youngsters, and you can opt fold these seats flat with no intrusion into rear space when not in use.
Storage was ample. With a tent up on the roofrack, a family of five could fit enough gear in the rear for a summer’s weekend away up the beach.
On the highway the new Ford returned fuel consumption figures of 10-11 litres per 100km, and with a 75-litre tank there is a pretty good range if you cruise sensibly. Like all 6-cylinder engines, this one will tend to guzzle when pushed hard.
The Territory was hard to fault, although a handle to open the two-part tail gate would have been good.
Overall, this car is best suited to people who want a larger four-wheel-drive mainly for its seven-seat capacity, rather than for heavy-duty off-road work.
1) In its element on a gravel track, the Territory Ghia was an impressive vehicle.
2) In standard arrangement the rear cargo area of the Territory can carry an impressive amount of luggage.
3) The Ghia features a prominent Interior Command Centre to monitor a range of functions.
4) The Territory has a roomy interior, with a simplistic and practical design.Reads: 2240