The Ford Territory has been around since 2004 and has received a recent facelift for its 2009 model year. The Territory was once a popular benchmark vehicle in its segment and this latest measure is set to extend its lifespan. So is it simply a weathered old gunslinger that’s been given a new hat and holster and sent back out to fight? Or does the updated Territory have some new tricks and shining spurs? Car and SUV headed west in the range-topping Territory Turbo to test its mettle.
With extensive changes and the introduction of a turbo-diesel engine scheduled for next year, this is a modest facelift. In terms of exterior aesthetics, changes include a new front bumper, upper and lower grilles, colour coded exterior mirrors and new head and taillights. The Territory Turbo retains the aggressive bonnet scoop and in Ghia trim receives special 18-inch rims. When compared to the latest 2009 batch of SUVs the Territory is showing its age. However, it remains a smart and purposefully styled vehicle with a distinctive shape.
It’s in the cabin where the Territory turbo boasts some serious new gear. Now included as standard specification is a handy third row of seating, reverse parking camera, rear privacy glass, side steps and an Alpine DVD system for back seat passengers. The seats have also been updated with quality leather and are wide and very comfortable. Gauges and switchgear are sensibly laid out but the multifunction display screen can look cluttered and difficult to read. The silver and black trim works in well together and while some materials feel a touch cheap it’s all screwed together strongly. Cabin space is superb with decent legroom all round. Overall, the Territory interior is a pleasant place to be, but car styling has shifted forward and although the standard equipment list is impressive the dated dash and instruments aren’t.
When it comes to what’s packed in under the bludging bonnet, the updated Territory has no major mechanical changes. Some small tweaks to the powertrain have resulted in a slight fuel economy improvement but engine specs and performance figures remain unchanged. That said, Ford knows you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight and the Territory turbo is still packing some serious firepower. Making use of its turbocharged 4-litre 6-cylinder engine the top-spec Territory puts out a whacking 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque. This brutish unit will take the Territory from standing to 100kmh in around 7 seconds and easily embarrass most other SUV drivers. It’s a motor that has strength through the range but it’s low down torque that gives it real character.
Mated to a smart six-speed auto transmission the Territory works itself competently through the gears and if you want to get hands-on there’s a tiptronic shifting option. Fuel economy is quoted at 14.2L/100km combined, which is fairly high, and if you want to have some fun and wind up the turbo, fuel bills will increase simultaneously.
Like the powertrain there has been no changes to the chassis or suspension set-up for the facelifted Territory but car-like drivability remains a strength for the vehicle. Despite it’s burly 2-tonne weight and high centre of gravity it’s surprisingly agile on twisty roads and easily manoeuvrable around town. But take it off the tarmac and it may struggle, with 235/55 R18 tyres and a clearance of just 179mm the Territory is undoubtedly better suited for sealed roads. In wet conditions the Territory feels sure-footed with ample grip thanks to its full-time 4WD system and wide track.
Ride quality is very good with little in the way of engine or wind noise entering the cabin. The suspension is set on the firm side for an SUV but only the most broken of Kiwi roads will prove uncomfortable for occupants.
Safety credentials check out with a posse of airbags including curtains waiting to shoot. ABS brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and a dynamic stability control system are also all standard fare on the Territory Turbo.
Overall, the Territory Turbo is still a very good performance orientated SUV with a strong motor, solid safety and keen driving dynamics. The facelift for 2009 is more an exercise in adding value by increasing standard equipment than making any major changes. Some buyers will be tempted by the added gear from the facelift but most will understandably wait for 2010 when the Territory range is fully updated in earnest and styling is properly refreshed. For now, when the cards get shown the Territory Turbo is still holding a full house, it’s just all the other players have moved on to the next saloon.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.
What we like:
- Strong Torquey engine
- Car-like driving dynamics
- Lengthy equipment list
What we don’t like:
- Minimal updates
- Fuel consumption
- Dated styling inside and out
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Ford Territory Ghia Turbo (2009) – Specifcations
DOHC VCT I6 Turbo—S
Displacement (cc) 3984
Power – maximum (DIN) 245kW @ 5,250rpm
Torque – maximum (DIN ) 480Nm @ 2,000rpm
Adaptive Shift/ Tiptronic 6FA
Braked – Standard 1,600
Braked – Heavy duty 2,300
Front – Virtual Pivot Control Link
Rear - Control blade independent
Turning circle (kerb to kerb) 11.4
Turns to lock 3.0
Wheels & Tyres
Wheel size 18″
Wheel type 5 spoke alloy
Tyre size 235/55 R18
Spare wheel 17″ alloy
Volume – Luggage behind second row seats (L) 1,153
Vehicle Masses kg
Axle load rating – front maximum 1,290
Axle load rating – rear maximum 1,530
Gross combination mass (GCM) 4,850
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 2,690
Kerb mass 2,173
Payload – maximum 517