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Thread: Long term ownership review: SZ Ford Territory Titanium AWD

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    Validated User Road_Warrior's Avatar
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    Post Long term ownership review: SZ Ford Territory Titanium AWD

    It’s now been over 12 months since we slid into the driver’s seat of the SZ Territory, and in that time we’ve put about 30,000klm on it. So people are probably wondering: how is it holding up and are you still happy with it?

    So I decided I had better put pen to paper (more like fingers to keyboard) and write a tell-all. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Introduction

    In the beginning, we secretly knew that we wanted the Territory and were going to get it, but we also considered competitor vehicles as any objective person would do when you’re spending $50,000 or more on a car. We don’t have a bottomless pit of money to spend on cars, and had to choose the best vehicle for our needs.

    The Territory in its original form was a masterstroke by Ford Australia as it created a niche in what was still a market dominated by sedans and small cars, and answered people’s calls for something that had the space and family-friendly utility of a four wheel drive, but with the road manners and ease of driving of a passenger car. It hit the mark, sold well, and despite some issues the Territory has found more homes in Australian garages than any other SUV on the market in Australia.

    Despite being left to wither on the vine for a few years, Ford updated it in 2011 and released the SZ, complete with a diesel engine that was new to Ford Australia.

    Ownership experience

    As another motoring reviewer put it, the Territory seems to have less focus on gadgets and keeping up with the Joneses, and more on simply getting the job done. Probably for that reason Territory isn’t everything to everyone, but no car is.

    Suffice to say we were happy with it when we bought it, and we are still happy with it now. One thing we wanted was a car that was capable of swallowing up a huge amount of stuff and getting us places that are usually several hundred kilometres away from home. When you have friends and family that live all over the state (and it’s a big state), driver comfort and benign road manners are important.

    The Territory has always been lauded for its handling prowess. It is probably as close to a driver’s car in an SUV as you can get, without spending a bomb on a euro SUV. The SZ is no different and builds on the reputation of the original Territory with the addition of Electrically Power Assisted Steering – EPAS – which makes light work of maneuvering around in car parks and still gives you enough feedback on the road so you still feel you’re connected with the car and the road. Ford should pat themselves on the back for this system. It is such a shame the FG-X Falcon won’t be getting it.

    That said, the 18 inch alloys with 55 series rubber on the Titanium transmit more bumps and imperfections from the road into the chassis of the car and the cabin than say, the TX or TS with the taller tyres. It doesn’t upset the balance of the car at all, but it is noticeable. Fortunately the acoustic glass used in the SZ and the sealing of the cabin block out a lot of the road noise (and I mean, A LOT).

    Similarly, the 18/55 wheel and tyre combo doesn’t perform very well if you take the Territory off road, especially in softish sand. Whilst I am obviously mindful of the fact that the Tez is not an “off roader” like a 4x4, I get the distinct impression the Tez would be capable of much more with some tyres that were suited (even partially) to off road use. The AWD system works quite well despite the permanent drive split, and on a recent holiday to Broome I only got bogged twice and on both occasions I was able to extract us out of the soft sand simply by reversing out.

    When off roading with the Territory, the trick is to pick your battles, and you might lose one here or there

    Capped price servicing from Ford is in play with the SZ Territory, and it is $285 for every 15,000klm service. But being an engine with a turbo fed oil from the engine’s oil pump, the old adage was that you should do oil and filter changes every 7,500. Ford say it’s not necessary anymore, because engine design and manufacture is much better now than it used to be, but even still, it is something to be mindful of.

    Wifey was adamant that she didn’t want to go backwards in terms of cargo space. We were coming from a Falcon wagon, whose cargo space was more like the hangar deck on the USS Enterprise and was great for containing all of the crap you need to take with you when you have small children, or go on holidays. The Territory’s cargo area isn’t as deep as the trusty old wagon, but just as wide, and taller. The Hyundai Santa Fe for example is 20-30cm shallower in the cargo space than the Territory. The Toyota Prado is probably about as deep, but narrower, and the Prado’s third row intrudes into the cargo space (Territory’s stows under the floor).

    Obviously if you use the third row seating, you don’t have a lot of cargo space left. Enough for shopping and a pram, say. Those seats are really for children to use only, I wouldn’t want an adult to sit there for any extended period. You have no leg room, no air vents, and the curtain airbags don’t extend all the way to cover the third row. Plus the third row doesn’t have a split-fold function which is a bit ordinary. Buy a people mover if you need 7 seats on a regular basis.

    In terms of seating and space, the second row is split-fold and slide, and will comfortably fit an adult in the middle pew between two toddler seats or booster seats.

    Powertrain and features

    One highly annoying “feature” of the diesel powertrain is the oft-talked about lag. Yes it is there, and yes, it is an issue. I’m not the only one who considers it to be a problem – I know of one example where a diesel Territory owner traded his car on a petrol SZ because he was not prepared to put up with the lag.

    The “lag” is not turbo lag; rather it is to do with the fuel mapping and how the engine management parameters have been set. It can now be tuned out by a Sydney based tuner. It’s something I am considering doing.

    Ford have had three years to fix this and so far have not. If the SZII is released with this flaw, then sorry Ford, you deserve all the negative press you get. It shouldn’t be there at all, full stop.

    The engine itself is a good engine; it’s built like a brick shithouse with a CGI engine block, six bolt mains and a forged steel crank. Those 440 newtons are real, they exist, and if you catch the engine in the right spot in the RPM band and plant your foot, it will make that 2-tonne tank get up and boogie fairly rapidly. You’re not going to be embarrassed by the P-plater in his clapped VN V6. Internet nitpickers who would never have bought one anyway bag it for being “old” but it is old on paper only. It is only out-specced by more modern diesels that are usually found in more expensive cars. If Ford fixed that lag, it would be an absolute ripper.

    One word of warning however: this engine, like most other modern common-rail diesels, doesn’t like getting a gutful of bad or watery fuel. Try to use petrol stations with a high turnover and if you see the ‘water in fuel’ warning light come on stop what you’re doing and get it dealt with ASAP.

    The 6R80 trans does a satisfactory job but can be caught out by driver indecision with a bang or a clunk. It’s by no means class leading, but by the same token it’s not bad. It could just be a bit better that’s all. It’s not a deal breaker put it that way. Adaptive shift works well and I find it be useful if I am towing a heavy load in a hilly area and want to keep the engine on the boil.

    The other issue, which isn’t really an issue with the car, is that Ford have not kept pace with what the Territory’s competitors are doing. It is a shame that keyless entry for example won’t be appearing in the last model of the Territory. No 8-way electric seat for the driver, even though the top-spec Falcon has it. The reality is that on release, the SZ Territory should have had it, much like all of its competitors do, but even the top-spec Territory is bettered by the mid-spec Santa Fe, Grand Cherokee and Pathfinder. Taking off the blue tinted glasses and looking at it from a non-car enthusiast’s perspective, people question the value for money.

    I find the ICC buttons to be a bit small and fiddly for quick-look air vent changes when you’re on the move. Taking your eyes off the road any longer than a second or two is dangerous. I much prefer the larger buttons of the B-series and older Territorys. The ICC is mounted high up, crystal clear and is intuitive and easy to use. We get a decent reversing camera with the Territory too, not some of these pox reversing cameras that play the camera feed in a tiny window in the rear view mirror (Santa Fe, Ranger for example). The SZII will apparently have an overlay graphic in the screen for reversing with the camera, but I can’t say as it would be that useful.

    Similarly I find the sheer number of options in the trip computer to be more than what is useful. Some would probably appreciate the information however.

    Annoying satnav lady is annoying. I find myself telling her to STFU when I’m going around a corner and she is telling me to make the turn about 50 times. Plus the satnav gets lost easily. It frequently tells us we’re in the middle of the bush (or a river) when we’re driving on a road or highway. Maybe it needs updating.

    The steering wheel buttons are great. They are tactile and once you get used to where they are you will wonder why people complain about them not being backlit.

    The tambour/roller door in the centre console is a nice touch. So too are the bottle holders in each door, and the lockable compartment under the driver’s seat. Wifey particularly likes this idea. The Territory has storage sorted. That judge on The Block who is always carrying on about storage should buy a Territory.

    Three 12 volt powerpoints (behind the tambour door, rear of the centre console, and in the load space) mean there are plenty of places to plug phones into for charging, running a car fridge, DVD player, and that is in addition to the AUX-in and USB jack in the centre console. They’re rated to a maximum of 10 amps so don’t go plugging any 3-way fridges into them otherwise you’ll melt things…

    That said the SZ Territory, particularly the Titanium, gets things that some competitors do not, like a DVD player (Santa Fe nor Grand Cherokee in any guise don’t have this), split tailgate, and of course the 2.7 tonne towing capacity (AWD diesel only) which is pretty important if you’re towing something heavy, like a boat or caravan. Hyundai’s marketing spiel claim the Santa Fe has up to 2.5 tonne towing capacity, however the devil is in the detail – it has a maximum towball loading of 150kg, which is useless – the Territory’s 270kg limit trumps it any most other SUV’s (AWD diesel only).

    Speaking of towing, it tows like a champ. Probably not as well as say, a Landcruiser or another body-on-frame vehicle of similar size and capacity, but I’d have to say it would probably be class leading. The torque of the diesel engine comes in low in the RPM range, and it will give you a decent shove along when you set off with a load hooked up. Towing our camper (about 1500kg loaded and 180kg on the towball) doesn’t faze it one bit. Towing a broken-down Falcon ute on a car trailer recently, I was surprised how easily it moved off without any fuss.

    Seeing quite a few SZ Territorys on the road during our trip to the Kimberley, many of which were towing big tandem axle caravans, further validated my opinion.

    One advisory note though: fit airbags if you’re going to be doing regular towing with heavy loads, as the Territory’s IRS can make it squat in the bum quite a bit if the load isn’t distributed correctly or the trailer is weighted forward of its axle.

    Endgame

    I guess one of the real downers of Ford Australia failing as a car making entity in this country is that a great car like the Territory has been left to wither and die, and we won’t ever get to see the best of what Ford could have made the Territory, had they had the time and money. It never got the same amount of spotlight as its cousin the Falcon, yet arguably held a more important space in the market. Which is a shame.

    As I said earlier, the Territory isn’t all things to everyone, especially considering the competitors available today. There are things about it that may annoy some, but not others. That said, the Territory can still mix it up with the best of them, get the job done, and keep doing it year after year with few vices and still do pretty much everything your family wants to do as it grows. The Tez will grow with your family and if I had to do it again, I’d do it with another Territory. With 30,000klm now under its belt and the uses and abuses of family life amongst that, it’s held up very well and I have no reason to doubt it can’t continue to do so.

    Nevertheless, Ford Australia and the people that worked on it can be proud of what they achieved in the Territory’s life. One day hopefully people will look back and realise what we’ve lost; we haven’t just lost a factory, but some cars that incidentally were bloody good, and the SZ Territory is up there with them.


    Accessories fitted to this vehicle:
    Ford Territory genuine roof racks
    QLD Bullbars ‘bumper type’ bull bar
    Hayman-Reese heavy duty towbar
    Redarc ‘Smart Solenoid’ battery isolator
    Hayman-Reese electric brake controller

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    Validated User galaxy xr8's Avatar
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    Great write up mate.. Now where’s the pics from your recent trip to Broome.

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    Enjoying FOA's Final Masterpiece Perko's Avatar
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    When you look at it the Territory has been a bloody good car considering what hasn't been spent on it over the years. Much of the interior is carry over and the exterior changes have been small cosmetic ones here and there. My wife loved our first one and was so close to grabbing a second one. Pity Ford didn't do more with it over the years otherwise I think I could have gotten her over the line.
    Ford Heritage : KF Laser, XF Ute, XH Tradesman Ute, EL Futura, AU2 Ute, XD Ute, XH XR6 Ute, BA XR8 Ute, SX Territory, BF XR8 Sedan, EB2 S XR6, EB1 S XR8, WQ Fiesta, FGX XR8

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    Validated User Road_Warrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galaxy xr8 View Post
    Great write up mate.. Now where’s the pics from your recent trip to Broome.
    LOL I was going to upload pics but ran out of time at work. BRB I have a few

    Quote Originally Posted by Perko View Post
    When you look at it the Territory has been a bloody good car considering what hasn't been spent on it over the years. Much of the interior is carry over and the exterior changes have been small cosmetic ones here and there. My wife loved our first one and was so close to grabbing a second one. Pity Ford didn't do more with it over the years otherwise I think I could have gotten her over the line.
    It has. It could have been so much better with just a few more things but be thankful we got this far with it.

    IMO Ford could have forestalled its closure if they invested in the Territory platform. I'll even go so far as to say the FG shouldnt have happened, they should have put the money into a Territory II and spun off a small and upper-large SUV from it. They might still be in the game post 2016 if they invested more in these platforms that people are buying in volume.

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    Miami Sprint. 4Vman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road_Warrior View Post
    LOL I was going to upload pics but ran out of time at work. BRB I have a few



    It has. It could have been so much better with just a few more things but be thankful we got this far with it.

    IMO Ford could have forestalled its closure if they invested in the Territory platform. I'll even go so far as to say the FG shouldnt have happened, they should have put the money into a Territory II and spun off a small and upper-large SUV from it. They might still be in the game post 2016 if they invested more in these platforms that people are buying in volume.
    Great write up.

    Yes in hindsight we should have put all our resources into producing just 1 world class global product and exporting it rather than 2 compromised products that have gone nowhere.
    My Falcon family heritage: XY V8 Falcon 500, XYGT, XBGT, XC 351 GS, XD 4.1 Spack, EF wagon, AU Wagon, AU2 Wagon, AU2 XR8, BA XR8, BF XR8, FG XR6, Lucky last: Sprint 8. Oh wait, AU3 XLS Marlin Ute!

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    Validated User Road_Warrior's Avatar
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    ph33r the Territory


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    Validated User Road_Warrior's Avatar
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    Don't even ask. The pitfalls of visiting rellies in the boonies is that you have to bring stupid shit with you that is apparently worthless.



    The long, and not so lonesome road.



    An observation point alongside the highway where you can see the big mining trucks doing their business (I'm talking the Halupaks here). They sounds like a jumbo jet coming in to land when they gas it to get up a slight incline and they have built a freeway-quality overpass for the highway to go over the haulage track. This particular site was Rio Tinto's "Mesa A" complex.



    One of those aforementioned points where the Tez doesnt like soft sand. This is Cable Beach.



    I thought some might be interested in seeing how the QLD Bullbars "Bumper Type" bullbar fits the lines of the Territory. Really there are only 3 bars available for the SZ that I could find. This one, the ECB Bullbars which looks pox IMO and doesnt have enough airflow for my liking for the diesel fuel cooler under the driver's side headlight, and Irvin Bullbars which appears to be a bigger wierder looking version of the QLD one.

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    Validated User Road_Warrior's Avatar
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    Needless to say the car was filthy inside and out after nearly 6000 klm of road trippin' which included say 250klm of beach, bush tracks, station tracks and unsealed roads. We got it professionally cleaned and detailed when we got back. Despite all that it drives like the day we bought it.

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    7753 - 5030 HSE2's Avatar
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    Glenn, Tim when you get a chance please.

    Brilliant work Dave, as usual.
    History is a statement, the future is a question.

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    James. defective's Avatar
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    I quite like that bullbar, looks like whoever designed it, designed with just the territory in mind, where as some you see seem to be just copy pasted from another design/vehicle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Falc'man View Post
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