Ford Territory: a flawed genius
Ford's Territory SUV was a sales superstar from its 2004 introduction.
Locally designed and manufactured, with seven seats and strong towing capacity, it was built on the tried and tested Falcon platform.
It looked good, had oodles of cabin space, a comfortable ride and excellent cornering ability for an SUV.
More than 178,000 Territories were sold in Australia up to its 2016 demise, so the classifieds are awash with pre-loved examples.
Are they worth a punt as a used car? Certainly their size, practicality, 5-star safety rating and towing capacity of up to 2700kg tick a lot of boxes for Australian families.
Many owners have happy Territory stories, but numerous reliability problems - some pricey - means buying with care is imperative.
It's best to consider 2011 and later Territory "SZ" models, as these were offered with more economical turbo-diesel engines well suited to large SUVs. Prior to 2011 only a thirsty 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol model was offered.
On sale from May 2011, the SZ Territory could be had with a gutsy 140kW/440Nm 2.7-litre V6 diesel or the carryover (but enhanced) petrol, each mated to a six-speed auto gearbox.
Petrols could only be twinned with rear-wheel-drive, while diesel shoppers could option drive to two wheels or all four. Despite being pricier, the diesel option was by far the more popular, aided by its relative economy - 8.2L/100 versus 10.6L.
Petrol and rear-wheel drive models could tow 2300kg, while diesel AWDs managed 2700kg.
The third and second-row seats folded completely flat for huge cargo space. With second row still up, Ford promised 1153 litres of boot room up to the ceiling.
Three grades were offered: TX, TS and flagship Titanium. All featured five airbags (although not one for the third row of seats), climate control, power driver's seat, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and USB port.
The TX had 17-inch alloys and 5.8-inch centre screen, but moving into the TS brought 18-inch wheels, 8-inch colour touchscreen, better audio, reverse camera, front fog lamps and silver front grille.
The Titanium cost more than $60,000 new and had 18-inch alloys, leather seat trim, Alpine rear DVD entertainment screens and integrated satnav.
All came standard with seven seats except entry-level TX, although many TX buyers fitted the two extra chairs as a $2500 option.
In late 2014 the SZ Territory MkII with facelifted styling went on sale at greatly reduced prices. A new infotainment set-up with 8-inch screen and voice control debuted and standard on all grades was emergency assistance, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, digital radio, two USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot and new alloys. Satnav was standard on all from April 2015.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Lots of Territorys have had a hard life, be it towing, high kilometres, off-roading or simply (and most likely) having kids on board creating their mess of food, drink, mud and worse.
It makes models without a tow bar, low kilometres and well kept interiors the desirable ones.
Prioritise those with impeccable service records, especially from a Ford dealer.
In general the engines have proved reliable, but there are reports of transmission failure. Listen for any nasty bumps, grinds or trouble shifting gears.
Seems the sealing wasn't first class as there are plenty of owners who've suffered leaks when it rains. Knock-on effect here is electrical problems, so check windows, lights, aircon and dash screen all function correctly.
Check footwell carpets for damp smells, stains or mould that suggest leaks - especially the front passenger's - and ensure all the dashboard warning lights stay off.
Front ball-joint failure plagued early Territorys, but they were redesigned for these later models. Any clunks or rattles up front while tackling rougher roads suggest trouble.
The rear suspension and diff should also be knock and bump free - nasty sounds can mean expensive repairs. Have a professional inspect on a ramp if you're in any doubt.
Some owners criticise brakes not being sufficient for such a heavy car, so if you feel vibrations, especially braking down hill, new rotors will be needed.
Airconditioning failure is expensive to remedy so check it's blowing cold.
Before inspecting a car ask the owner to confirm if it's a five- or seven-seater. Some TXs had seven seats fitted, and higher grades may have had the third-row seats deleted as a factory option.
Early SZ Territorys were recalled in August 2011 for a fuel return pipe; in May 2012 for a side impact sensor; 11/2013 - 10/2014 models were recalled for an ignition switch sensor in February 2015, and 2011-13 diesels needed a speed sensor replacement in December 2016.
Three and a half stars
Great family SUV with huge space, up to seven seats, attractive looks and strong ride and handling.
It's a car to have professionally inspected due to potential reliability dramas though, and aim for a diesel version for far better economy.
Target the Titanium for decent luxury, but only pay a premium for AWD if you plan on towing or regular off-roading.
We own two Territories, a 2005 model rear-wheel drive which has been reliable. Our 2015 petrol rear-drive model is a lot more economical thanks to the 6-speed transmission. It tows a 17-foot van. We chose petrol over diesel, mainly because of the limited kilometres we would do in a year. Both vehicles were brought new and we are very happy with them.
Denise & Rex Wythe
Bought a used 2013 Territory in April 2017 with about 84,000 kms on the dial from a local car dealer. It's a 2.7L V 6 turbo diesel with 6 speed auto. Generally a good car that suits our lifestyle with good economy on a trip (around 7.8 L/100km).
The gearbox used to annoyingly hunt in lower gears when feathering the throttle. I've had the local Ford dealer look at it twice now and it's no better. The other smaller gripe I have is with poor dust seals around all doors and the tailgate. Won't be buying another Ford.