Oil on troubled quarters
The diesel variant for Ford’s SUV was the last piece in the jigsaw
AFTER watching families shift from sedans to SUVs, Ford reacted by designing one of its own based on the components in the Falcon parts bin.
The Territory was the result and Ford hoped to stem the flow of red ink by enticing buyers to buy its big new wagon instead of abandoning the brand.
It was a bold move and for the most part successful. Buyers jumped on the bandwagon as Ford anticipated but it wasn’t as happy a story as hoped for.
Quality problems plagued the new car, there were serious suspension issues, and ultimately buyers wanted better fuel economy than the big sixcylinder engine could deliver.
Ford worked away at all of the issues and the quality improved. The front suspension was redesigned but it wasn’t until the SZ model of 2011 that the ultimate piece of the jigsaw was put in place.
That was a turbo diesel engine, bringing the sort of economy Territory buyers had long sought. The 2.7-litre V6 joined the 4.0-litre six-cylinder Falcon engine.
Ford believed it would be so popular that it was released on all variants: TX, TS and Titanium. It was available in allwheel drive and rear-wheel drive versions, while the old petrol six was only available in rear-drive.
All models were equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.
On the road the turbo diesel pulled well, which was just what caravan owners wanted, and delivered decent fuel economy.
In keeping with previous Territory series, the SZ was comfortable, its cabin was flexible whether in five or seven-seat configurations, and was quiet and smooth.
Reporting on previous Territorys usually involved long lists of grumbles from owners complaining about bits that failed and fell off, wore out prematurely, rusted or were just plain frustrating.
By the time the SZ arrived the lists had shrunk to the point owners were mostly positive in praise of their cars. Owners have become quite a happy bunch, most of whom say their cars have been reliable.
The majority of our respondents owned diesels, which says much about the shift in Territory sales, and were happy with the engine. A couple complained about turbo lag, the hesitation when accelerating away from a standstill.
The economy is the good news, as the averages — of 8.0L/100km or so on the highway and 10.0L around town — are handy for a big, heavy wagon like the Territory.
One concerning report was of a diesel engine with a spun bearing at a mere 60,000km. It’s likely to be a build issue, and hopefully a one-off.
One owner told us of a water leak in the front passenger’s footwell. That’s not an isolated report and it’s worth checking for dampness or water entry.
Check electrics and run windows up and down, as switches can be a problem.
The auto transmission can also be troublesome. When test driving listen for a solid thump or bang at low speed. Expect diff bushes to wear, as well as the front stabiliser bar bushes.
Ken Hammond Our 2012 diesel RWD is quiet, smooth, comfortable and trouble-free. It handles our 2.2-tonne caravan effortlessly. The only negative is turbo lag but you get used to it. Tim Mathews My Titanium diesel AWD, bought two years ago, has done 75,000km. I do a lot of country driving and find it drives very well, is comfortable and the AWD gives a sense of security in bad weather. The tyres were changed at 65,000km, and so far I haven’t had to replace the brakes. Nothing has needed fixing. Terry Owen I drove a TX diesel RWD as a rep’s car and found it spacious, there was plenty of storage, it was economical, and had the best trip computer ever. But I didn’t like the turbo lag, the transmission was harsh, there was no reversing camera in the base model and the Bluetooth connection was dodgy. Hank Piper My 2011 TX diesel AWD is the best vehicle I have owned in 46 years of driving. The cabin is comfortable, quiet, functional and has loads of storage. The 12-month/ 15,000km service interval is a godsend and the costs are very reasonable. I tow a 2.7-tonne caravan, and I average 8.5L9.0L/100km. Mark Moes My 2012 TS RWD with 110,000km is a great allrounder. I like the size and also tow a camper trailer. I like the torquey petrol motor, the clever interior, and the double tailgate. The only problems I’ve had are water leaks in front passenger footwell, and a rear brake light keeps blowing. Lindsay Whitta My Territory is an ex-police 2012 diesel AWD. It has plenty of room for the family, is great for long distance trips, has good economy with enough power for overtaking at high speed, and the handling is good for a vehicle of its size. I had to replace the transmission. It overheated at 124,000km. Robin East I bought a demo 2011 SZ Territory Titanium diesel AWD. I was happy with it although there were a few issues fixed under warranty: replacements for a window switch, centre seat belt, rear window seal, brake booster, stop light switch and front and rear diff seals. At this time I found the Territory great to drive, economical and very versatile. At the beginning of 2015 I passed the car on to my daughter, who had to replace a CV joint boot and the diff bushes. Later that year a loud knocking noise was caused by a spun big-end bearing that blocked off the oil supply. The engine had to be replaced at a cost of $9000, 50 per cent of which was covered by Ford. It has only done 62,000km. Max Schultz In 2015 I replaced my 2010 Territory with a 2013 SZ TX diesel that had done 63,000km. It is comfortable, firm on the road, the updated dash and instruments are much better than the previous model’s, the economy is good, and towing 1800kg is a breeze.
Roomy, comfortable tourer with plenty of towing power, particularly in the diesel.