WE TESTED the Ford Territory in 2005, we wanted to hate it
but wound up liking it. Here was an SUV
at a time when we were predicting $2 per litre petrol prices (Lucire
tends to be early in saying these things) and, on paper, why would
Then there was the reality. The Territory might be
on a Falcon floorpan, which gave it a full-size car’s footprint,
but it combined the best of what we wanted from a sedan (you might
sit up high, but it wasn’t a trucker’s seating position), an SUV
(occasional off-road use) and a minivan (seven seats). It did, as
the Americans termed, cross over the three segments.
We liked the simplicity of the CVT
automatic, the fact women had a place to put their handbags next
to the seats, and how the seats were at an average adult’s bottom’s
height, meaning that you neither had to go down or climb up in to
After testing a bunch of other SUVs,
including the very bulky and chunky BMW
X6, how would we feel about the latest Territory Ghia for 2010?
Ford wanted us to try its latest, which, on the face of it, had
been revised. Yet, on closer inspection, very little of the outside
had actually changed. There was a new bumper up front, and thanks
to the use of chrome, it gave the false impression that the lights
had been re-contoured. Not really. As far as facelifts go, this
was not particularly substantial, and no sheetmetal had changed.
This was caking on make-up, not plastic surgery or Botox. Which
in car terms isn’t the best formula for looking new.
It doesn’t get that much better on the side. The vents
in the wings look very Range Rover Sport, and probably found their
way on to the Territory when Land Rover was still under Ford ownership.
But any excitement at the Territory adopting something upmarket
from Range Rover is short-lived when you realize this is a piece
of plastic glued on to solid metal. The wings are no different to
the 2005 Territory’s.
Thanks to the step that Ford has glued on beneath the
doors, the Territory loses another utility: the fact you could slide
in and out of its seats readily. The step serves no practical purpose:
it is too small to actually step on, and only gets in the way of
entry and exit. It is, like the extra chrome and the fake vent,
a way to give snob value to an SUV
by imitating things found on more expensive models.
But, you see, this is a Ghia. The idea of the
Ghia, since Ford acquired the old Ghia studios of Torino many decades
ago, is to give you stuff you don’t need. Remember the first Ford
Capri Ghias? Why did anyone really need a vinyl roof on a sports
car? This was the age of Lee Iacocca as president of the Ford company,
who knew buyers wanted snobbery and glamour, even in mainstream
brands. He was partly right: people took to these little items and
paraded around in Escort Ghias as though they were the mayor of
the Kilbirnie Woolworth’s. And the Italian name appealed to the
other guy in charge of Ford back then, Henry Ford II, who had an
Italian mistress at one point in the 1970s.
Mercifully, inside, Ford has spared us the silliness,
and the only real sign of luxury are comfortable leather seats.
The lesser items on the 2005 model we tried were fine, but these
were an improvement. The DVD player
is still there behind the driver, which is ideal for the kids. There’s
now a reversing camera, which is a must for a big vehicle.
You still sit high and look down on others, giving
you a feeling of importance at the supermarket parking lot. This
still remains one of the best features of the Territory: its overall
comfort and ride. It is still a considerate car that is easy to
drive and manœuvre.
In the back, the Territory still has cinema seating,
where the last row is higher than the middle, which in turn is higher
than the front—a feature that is also well thought-out. Vehicles
such as the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg II continue to lack a third
row, so the Territory can still hold its own against far more expensive
The down side is a very simple trip computer and low-resolution
monochrome screen that you could play Pong on; when you consider
that even a basic Fiesta
has a more advanced item, then the Territory has some catching up
to do as a far more expensive Ford at the other end of the range.
As a crossover SUV to
drive, the Territory presents few problems, which begs the question
of why one needs to pony up a few more dollars for a Ghia. We were
seeing mpg ratings in the high tens to 20 (between 11·7 and 13 l/100
km), which is another black mark against the car—unless you were
towing or touring.
However, given the next-to-zero funds Ford has had
to play with to keep the Territory current, it has done a good job.
Any car that has been around for more than half a decade without
sheetmetal changes has to change in some way externally, and with
their hands tied behind their backs, Ford Australia has shown resourcefulness.
In fact, the Aussies, like the Brazilians, do well with freshenings
on zero money. The bits and pieces might be silly, but they give
the car some showroom cred, even against German imports (for which
the step, we might add, also serves little purpose).
The Territory remains the only true full-size crossover
on the market if one cannot stretch to what Audi, BMW
and Mercedes-Benz offer. The only real rival in terms of mainstream
brands is the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is not really a crossover,
but a far more butch off-roader. Toyota has the Prado, which has
trouble tackling even a 30-degree incline, as a Chinese owner discovered
in 2009, while we have not tested Mitsubishi’s Challenger.
In the whole Ford v. Holden debate, which seems irrelevant
to anyone but readers of Australian motoring magazines, it is unrivalled:
Holden fields an attractive but smaller, rebadged Daewoo Winstorm
called the Captiva, and we still hold reservations about what we
once considered typical Daewoo build quality. (Let’s just say there’s
a reason that brand died out in New Zealand and, for that matter,
in most of this world.)
We still like the Territory for some of the original
reasons, and just wished it was not marred by the add-ons. She’s
the first wife who wears too much sparkle, and through that she
shows her age. She might still have some qualities that made us
fall in love with her in the first place. It depends whether they
are strong enough to continue drawing us in.
Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.
Top left A new front end for the Ford Territory ties it in
with other Ford products, but there are no sheetmetal changes. Above
l eft The step serves no useful purpose other than to make the
Territory Ghia look a little flasher. Top and above The vent
in the wings is a plastic glued-on bit, despite its Range Rover
Sport pretensions. Its solid metal behind there. Think of
it as an oversized novelty badge.
But, you see, this is a Ghia. The idea of
the Ghia, since Ford acquired the old Ghia studios of Torino many
decades ago, is to give you stuff you don’t need. Remember the ﬁrst
Ford Capri Ghias? Why did anyone really need a vinyl roof on a sports