SZ Ford Territory: the best tow car yet?

By: Phil Lord

Phil Lord examines the much-hyped turbodiesel Territory .

SZ Ford Territory: the best tow car yet?
SZ Ford Territory: the best tow car yet?
FORD'S NEW SZ series Territory range arrives this month. The upgrade not only introduces a fresh sheetmetal, finally pulling the Territory in line with Ford's global Kinetic design theme, it also adds the anticipated turbodiesel V6 engine, and a 2700kg towing capacity.

The Ford 60-degree intercooled single turbo V6 is not new to Australia. It is the same unit introduced in the Land Rover Discovery 3 and also used in various Peugeot and Citroen models.

The Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel V6 engine (available for rear- and all-wheel drive) develops a maximum of 140kW, and torque peaks at 440Nm from 1900rpm. The combined-cycle fuel consumption rate is 8.2L/100km for rear-wheel drive, or 8.8L/100km for AWD TX and TS and 9.0L/100km for Titanium.

Both the turbodiesel and carry-over inline petrol six are equipped with a six-speed automatic across all model grades. The petrol rear-drive model uses a ZF 6HP26 six-speed automatic transmission with turbodiesel rear- and all-wheel drives use the ZF-based 6R80 transmission.

While the diesel is available in both 2WD and AWD configurations, the petrol continues as a 2WD only.

The front differential is now incorporated into the sump and the transfer case is a new design that disengages the front driveshaft while idling in Drive to improve efficiency and smoothness.

Maximum braked towing capacity is up 500kg — 2700kg trailer weight maximum, of which 270kg is permitted on the towball — on AWD TDCi models. The remaining models continue with towing capacities of 2300kg/230kg.

Suspension has been recalibrated with new dampers and springs and new front-end geometry while power steering is now electric-assist instead of hydraulic.

Familiar to current Territory owners are the first two model grades – the entry-level TX and mid-spec TS, but among the raft of changes the premium Territory will lose the Ghia nameplate and instead be called Titanium, the name given to the premium Mondeo.

Ford's long-standing Ghia model designation, a model name inspired by automotive Italian design house Ghia, was adopted by Ford Europe and used here first with the 1976 Ford Escort and adopted by the luxury Falcon sedan with the XD in 1979.

The Territory’s basic monocoque structure and independent suspension in essence remain true to the 2004 original. The turret, doors and tailgate are carry-over items.

The biggest departure is up front, where new sheetmetal has allowed Ford to update styling, improve aerodynamic efficiency and ensure off-road angles and ground clearance remained unchanged. Chris Svensson, Design Director for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, said that the design team's instructions were to not allow alterations that would reduce the effectiveness of the existing Territory’s off-road angles.

Projector headlights are now used across the board, with high-end Titanium adding LED daytime running lights.

The new grille is trapezoid-shaped in accordance with current Ford design thinking, and the lower grille includes a segment for the air-to-air intercooler for turbocharged diesel models in the driver's side lower grille. The left grille is blanked on turbodiesel models, where petrol models are blanked on both sides.

While the basic outline of the rear quarter panels looks very similar to the current pressings, the new Territory’s taillights are a clear distinguishing feature, complemented by a new tailgate lower trim section and a new bumper.

Despite the unchanged doors, C-pillars are new, as are the lower door cladding and lower rocker moulding. The 2011 Territory will also be shod with new wheels, in 17in and 18in diameter.

A new dashboard closely resembling the FG Falcon's will offer an 8in touch screen for TS and Titanium (the entry–spec Territory TX will be specified with a 5.8in monochrome screen). There are also new functional storage bins up front.

The steering wheel is new and the four-spoke design features audio and cruise-control functions.

While the Territory's centre-stack ventilation controls are the same as those used in the existing model, there is a new storage tray below, shuttered behind a rolling door — a well-executed design feature that some may remember from the W124 Mercedes-Benz centre console lid. A pair of cup holders, the centre console bin and audio ports for iPod and 3.5mm audio jack are located in this centre bin area.

The cabin has a far more luxurious ambience with the increased use of chrome and piano black accents. It feels like a far more contemporary design, too, even though some carry-over items are used, such as the door cards.

The diesel is very quiet and smooth, much like in the Land Rover Discovery 3 and 4. The slight hesitation off idle as the turbo spools up is quickly replaced by a seamless surge of mid-range torque. This is a good engine, and Ford has made it even better in this application.

Fuel consumption averaged 10.0L/100km over 300km of give and take backroads, which is not too bad for a heavy vehicle.

We haven't tested the Territory TDci with a caravan hitched up yet, but based on the promising performance of this first solo run, we can't wait...