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Ford Territory

 

It would be wrong to call the Territory's 2.7-litre turbo diesel engine new: in fact, it dates back to 2006. But the TDCi powerplant has given the Australian Ford a new lease of life, adding a surfeit of torque, impressive refinement and enhanced towing ability.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. So we can all now agree that Ford Australia zigged when it should have zagged with its last major update for the Territory crossover wagon, cooking up super-fast but very thirsty petrol-turbo versions back in 2006 – just as fuel prices started to skyrocket.

After that own-goal, it seemed as if Ford had abandoned further development of what was once a top-seller. But it was quietly working away on this latest and much more relevant iteration, a facelift model that now includes a 2.7-litre turbo diesel engine option. That's good news for anybody who's in the market for a large seven-seat crossover. The TDCi engine is a Ford-Peugeot product formerly used in some Jaguar and Land Rover models – not the latest 3.0-litre version but still a fantastic powerplant, smooth and refined.

It's particularly good news for those considering a Territory for recreational and/or towing purposes. Not only does the new engine give the vehicle vastly improved long-haul ability and a theoretical 1000km range, but if equipped with all-wheel drive and the factory approved heavy duty towing pack, the Territory TDCi can haul 2700kg. The rear-drive versions still manage 2300kg. All models are limited to 1600kg on a standard towbar.

As before, Territory is available in base TX and mid-grade TS specifications. The flagship Ghia has been renamed Titanium; that's the model we tested and it comes absolutely loaded with equipment, although it also comes at a high price. At $69,990 it's as costly as the previous Territory Ghia petrol-turbo.

You can get a TDCi cheaper: both the TX AWD and TS RWD are $59,990, while the step up to a TS AWD will cost $64,990. The least expensive Territory is still the TX petrol RWD, at $49,990 (you can no longer have a petrol model with AWD).

You don't have to stare very hard at the Territory to see that despite the crisp new frontal styling, it's a facelift rather than an all-new model. However, there have been some serious changes underneath to accommodate the TDCi engine, including a new front subframe. The AWD system now features a predictive torque transfer function and all models now have fuel-saving electric power steering.

The new steering set-up has not affected the Territory's driver appeal: it's still a hugely enjoyable vehicle to pilot, especially considering its 2167kg kerb weight. It's responsive and rides extremely well: the perfect long-distance machine for the family, especially if you've opted for the Titanium with its roof-mounted DVD player. As ever, the cabin is crammed with useful storage areas and the seats are superb.

Cheap cabin materials blighted the previous Territory; the new model is much improved. The architecture is new and all but the base TX versions get a next-generation Interior Command Centre (ICC) that includes a colour touch-screen. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are standard across the range. The Titanium also gets a slick new satellite navigation system that has the ability to suggest the most environmentally friendly route. It's a great system, although curiously you need to spend the big money on the Titanium to get it: the sat-nav is not even available as an option on other Territory models.

Yes, Territory is back. Not that it ever truly went away, but it's now a tempting option for those who do want class-leading driving characteristics and don't have shares in an oil company.

See the Ford Territory for sale.


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