Ford show-off new Territory

Ford's new Territory.
Ford's new Territory. Drive

A TEASER of the first major update to Ford’s popular Territory softroader has been released almost six months before the car will arrive in dealerships.

Clearly keen to drum up more interest in the vehicle that was once Australia’s best-selling SUV (or 4WD-style wagon) Ford has given a hint of how the new Territory will look with a telling sketch that shows the vehicle will adopt a styling theme based around the blue oval's European-influenced 'kinetic' design language.

The sketch comes months after Drive snapped the largely new Territory testing at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground south of Melbourne.

The new Territory is believed to share its basic platform with the current Territory, which is based on the Falcon large car and in 2004 was the first Australian-made soft-roader to go on sale and only received a minor styling update in 2009.

However, as the sketch reveals, the new Territory will get fresh front and rear styling as well as new details to give it a more modern look than the current shape that has started to age.

Inside, too, the Territory is said to be gearing up for a major freshen-up to enliven the ageing plastics and add increased functionality to what is already a genuinely thoughtful wagon.

But the big news for the updated new Territory is the arrival of a much anticipated new turbo diesel engine. The Land Rover-sourced 2.7-litre V6 is expected to significantly improve efficiency, addressing one of the Territory’s main criticisms – relatively high fuel use from the Falcon-sourced 4.0-litre six-cylinder, which will continue in updated form.

The 2.7-litre diesel is expected to produce close to the 140kW and 445Nm available in the Land Rover Discovery that used the same engine. While its power will be less than the 4.0-litre six-cylinder (currently 190kW), its torque promises to make it the more logical choice for buyers looking to tow or reduce their fuel bills.

While the Territory was a game changer when it went on sale in 2004, it’s since been attacked by all-corners, with imported rivals – and even Holden’s locally made Commodore Sportwagon – chipping away at its market share.

The basics of the successful Territory formula are expected to remain unchanged with the new model.

It will still be offered in both two- and four-wheel-drive variants. Two-wheel-drive Territorys will be aimed at families and those who don’t need any off-road capability, while four-wheel-drive Territory models will allow light-duty off-roading and extra traction in slippery situations, such as snow, mud and wet roads.

The Territory will also continue to be offered in either five- or seven-seat layouts, with the latter a popular option.

When it was launched the Territory was pitched as an Australian-designed wagon ideal for Australian families. It had a removable rubbish bin, a wine bottle holder and a reversible floor on five-seat models.

It also boasted car-like roadholding that only the likes of the BMW X5 have got close to in a high-riding seven-seat wagon.

Still, age has not treated the Territory well. Since its first full year on sale in 2005, sales have almost halved, from a full-year high of 23,454 to an estimation of less than 12,000 for 2010. Whereas it once accounted for almost one in three medium SUV sales (32.6 per cent) this year it’s so far achieved only 13.1 per cent.

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