My own drive of a Territory
Now that the press has published some info I can do the same....
Thanks to my anonymous “contact” at Ford Oz I had the privilege of driving the new Ford Territory recently and I have to say I was very impressed. As the owner of a BA Futura wagon since Feb this year it was a great opportunity to compare the two and I now know what I’ll be doing when I come to trade-in the Futura.
The Territory AWD was a high series model, almost Fairmont Ghia specced, with full leather, premium sound, rear sub woofer and tweeters fitted in the front doors behind the side-rear vision mirrors, full electric seating with memory function and enough storage compartments/holders that you’ll need a written list to remember where things are kept. One great idea is the drink holders in the rear of the front door pockets beside your hip.
As I mentioned this was an AWD model I6/A4and the first obvious thing off the mark is the slower acceleration than our Futura wagon due to its greater weight. This is however the only “down-side” as dynamically the Territory will run rings around the current wagon and more importantly in its class should be up top within the group. Through the first roundabout or “speed-control-chicane” and you instantly feel the car shrink in size. It’s not as long as a BA wagon (shorter rear cargo area though not by much) and its turning circle is amazing. The Territory seemed a little louder than our Futura under general driving but one massive improvement is the sunvisor/windscreen position relative to your head. No more feeling as though the visor will impale your forehead as you swing it back and forwards and the higher driving position is great. I drove through some local suburban side streets and the further I went the more I felt like I could easily “throw” it around. It just had great steering, absolutely fantastic brakes that bit hard but could be easily controlled. The constant question I kept asking myself is “when will the car’s bulk show itself?” and honestly it never did. You might laugh, however it reminded me of my wife’s old Mondeo which had great handling never fully appreciated by the press or enough owners. I never once felt that I was pushing around a bulky 4WD, so good was the handling and steering reaction as I zig-zagged through my local streets. The front seating and dash are very BA similar and in my opinion simple elegance (I wish climate control were a Futura option), while the rear seating is NOT like your typical big 4WD seating position, ie. an awkward knees up and shallow foot well. I know a little about this because at this year’s Melbourne Motor Show I sat in the rear seat of every open 4WD on display including Landcrusier, Prado, Patrol, Discovery etc…and they all lacked proper rear seating caused by a higher floor pan to aid clearance I guess. In the Territory’s rear seats you sit as though in a sedan with plenty of legroom and the back of your legs are supported by the seat cushion making it far more comfortable. The rear doors open wider, you can get in and out far easier than our Futura wagon and because of the higher body you won’t hit your head as easily if you have to place a child in a baby seat as I now do regularly.
The rear cargo area is not as deep as a current BA wagon, however it is taller and seems just as wide. This version didn’t have the third row of seating. The rear glass opens separately to the tailgate and I can see our dog hanging out the back, still safe from jumping over the lower section but not needing side windows to be left open if ever left alone for a few minutes.
I guess the single biggest impression I’m left with is how bloody well the Territory drove. It felt like a car of a size down from the Falcon, tight and nimble. Do you know the feeling you get when you jump into a new car you’ve never driven before and yet everything falls into place instantly. You can start driving more quickly, make sharper turns into corners, brake later and have some fun. It doesn’t wallow or float at all and is very BA sedan-like in this regard. A turbo in this would be the icing on the cake because its ride and handling are so car-like, even now I’m still amazed that a high-body AWD can be so agile. Would I buy one, in a second but then again I think I’m exactly the type of buyer it’s aimed at. I need wagon practicality, like some luxuries of say Fairmont specifications, have a child, own a large dog and like to drive as much as possible (even to the post box round the corner!) and so Territory fills these requirements perfectly. The great surprise is that I get great sedan-like driving qualities included.
Last edited by Curls; 12-15-03 at 02:08 AM.