Outside the square
The Territory was a gamble that paid off, writes GRAHAMSMITH
FORD took the brave decision to venture into unknown terrain when it decided to build the Territory SUV. Ford Australia president Geoff Polites made the decision, which could have had dire consequences had it not succeeded.
Polites read the market correctly and the Territory has been a sales success since arriving in 2004.
Ford was a one-car company and really needed another volume seller to keep afloat when sales of big cars like the Falcon were in decline.
THE formula Ford followed for the Territory wasn’t new. SUVs had been around for years and Ford had built them in other parts of the world.
A significant difference with the Territory was that it was built in twowheel drive and all-wheel drive.
It was correctly recognised that many SUV buyers wanted a roomy wagon for family transport, and liked the high driving position that gave them a better view of the road. The least of their priorities was an ability to go off the road.
In fact, having the extra weight and complexity of the additional driveline cost them money at the pump.
Apart from the engines, gearboxes and some driveline components there wasn’t much in common with the Falcon. It was fundamentally a new car from the ground up.
It had a longer wheelbase than the Falcon, but was shorter overall. Its shape was neat and clean, its lines uncluttered and purposeful.
Inside it was roomy enough to accommodate up to seven adults with the optional third row, with plenty of space for everything a family needs to take with them.
It had the same 182kW 4.0-litre, double-overhead camshaft, sixcylinder engine as the BA Falcon and the same four-speed automatic transmission with sequential sports shift.
Though it rode higher than the Falcon, the suspension was familiar stuff, albeit refined. At the front was Ford’s virtual pivot suspension that has since been adapted to the Falcon, and the control blade independent rear suspension.
Brakes were disc front and rear, with anti-skid electronics, traction control and grade control for offroad safety on the all-wheel model.
The TX was the entry model, with standard equipment including airconditioning, trip computer, adjustable pedals, power windows and remote central locking.
Step up to the TS and you got dual climate control airconditioning, cruise control, six-stacker CD sound and alloy wheels.
The Ghia had even more, including power adjustment for the driver’s seat and auto dimming on the rear view mirror.
An update in 2005 brought a sixspeed automatic transmission, and another in 2006 added a 245kW turbo engine.
ON THE LOT
THE Territory is popular, so expect to pay plenty for them.
An entry model 2004-2006 TX rear- wheel drive will cost $ 18,000-$ 25,000. The betterequipped TS goes for $20,000-$29,000. For both models, add $2000 for all-wheel drive.
But the best equipped Ghia runs from $25,000-$32,000. The later turbo all-wheel drive model is $30,000-$35,000, with the Ghia version $40,000-$45,000.
IN THE SHOP
THE Territory will handle rough roads, but it was never designed to venture too far from the beaten track. Check the underbody for damage caused by off-road driving.
It hasn’t been without its dramas and there are plenty of unhappy owners out there.
There was a problem with excessive wear of the front lower ball joints, which would become sloppy and eventually make a knocking noise. Ford discovered the problem quite early on and dealers replaced the joints under warranty.
It would happen as low
as 50,000km, so be mindful of any knocking noise you might notice. Check for a service record as any Territory that hasn’t seen the inside of a Ford dealer might have missed out on the ball joint swap.
Reports of rust are quite common on Territorys. It’s rust staining rather than actual panel perforation at this stage, but it looks ugly and should be cause for concern.
The reports suggest the rust is visible in the engine bay, around the fuel filler and the rear window.
IN A CRUNCH
Safety systems, including anti-skid brakes, electronic brake force distribution and traction control, make a compelling case for the Territory’s safety. Electronic stability control was standard on all-wheel drives and Ghia two-wheel drives, adding even more safety.
Dual front airbags and side curtain airbags were standard on TS and Ghia models, but optional on the base model TX.
ANCAP crash testing rated the Territory at four stars.
THE BOTTOM LINE
SUV suitable for family use, but beware of reliability niggles.
Ride on: the Ford Territory was perfect for buyers who want roomy family transport with a high driving position.