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Ford Territory 2006 review

We all like to think of ourselves as individualists, able to make up our own mind about a product - whether it's a new vehicle or something else we're interested in buying - rather than succumbing to social pressures around us.

Remember how Mark "Wacko Jacko" Jackson - the former Aussie Rules footballer-cum-singer-actor-author-boxer - struck a chord with the nation in the late 1980s with his smash-hit I'm An Individual (you can't fool me, an in-da-bloody-vidual ...)?

We sent him to number one on the Australian singles charts, but not for his voice or his looks. We related to, and laughed out loud at, the lyric - and were kidding ourselves at the same time.

In truth, the extent to which we act as individuals isn't nearly as great as we think. We listen to others, and conform. We bow to social pressure. And this is a huge problem for Ford with its brilliant new Territory Turbo.

No matter that the high-performance Turbo is easily the best 4WD wagon ever built in Australia and, even with Holden's fabulous VE Commodore now on sale, stands from our vantage point as one of the most appealing vehicles this country has ever produced.

Social pressure rather than sound reason virtually guarantees that the $65,490 Territory Turbo Ghia tested here will never be a serious alternative for people considering the likes of the Porsche Cayenne S or BMW X5 V8, despite having engine performance, vehicle dynamics and cabin amenities that are in the same league.

The Ford badge, the made-in-Australia status and a sticker price half that of European "rivals" all count against it.

At the other end of the scale, voices of reason are shouting down the monolithic, 2.0-tonne-plus Territory Turbo on the basis of its higher-than-average fuel consumption - which, let's face it, becomes exorbitant when driven hard - in these times of heightened fuel price awareness and uncertain future oil supplies.

The vehicle must be run on expensive 95 octane premium unleaded fuel to deliver its best. And although this performance in overall terms is outstanding for an SUV, it's not as proficient as a passenger car built with the same sporting intent. Falcon XR6 Turbo anyone?

But, boy, the huffed Territory is good.

With its force-fed 4.0-litre straight-six producing 245kW at 5250rpm and 480Nm at 2000rpm (as it does in the XR6T), Ford Australia's very own "TT" impresses no end with its responsiveness under foot, its clean and authoritative acceleration from standstill - which can take it to 100km/h in around 7.0 seconds - and the exquisite combination the engine forms with the deliciously smooth, smart-shifting and German-sourced (as if it mattered) ZF six-speed automatic gearbox.

We've got to (again) take issue with Ford's counter-intuitive sequential-manual modus operandi, which requires a push forward for a downshift and vice versa. And, of course, the fuel consumption gauge on the central LCD screen serves, through no fault of the interior designers, as a constant source of distraction for the driver.

Driven with enthusiasm, the Territory Turbo's average fuel consumption lingered around 20 litres per 100km - well above Ford's official 14.2l/100km figure. But on the open road we returned 11.2l/100km and across long and varied road conditions we averaged 14.9l/100km, which was a far better result than the normally aspirated Territory Ghia AWD (with a four-speed automatic) we tested in 2004.

Back then we remarked upon the wagon's excellent refinement, absorbent ride and the ease with which it handles fast bitumen and dirt stretches alike. All of this holds true with the SY-series AWD Turbo, although the low-blow turbocharger itself takes "effortless touring" - whether on straight or snaking roads - to a whole new level.

Chassis revisions, which include minor suspension mods, beefier front brakes, recalibrated electronic handling aids and bigger 18-inch wheels with 235/55-section tyres, also make the Territory Turbo a more composed and confidence-inspiring vehicle on tighter roads than the standard model.

Inside, the rather hard-to-stomach extra $11,500 involved in securing the Ghia over the $53,990 base-model Turbo is demonstrated by a useful reversing camera (which became useless after a dirt-road stint), metallic-look instruments (which can be difficult to read at a glance), dual-zone climate-control airconditioning, leather trim, a high-grade six-CD stereo (with subwoofer), elegant detailing across the dashboard and doors, and a label denoting the fitment of curtain airbags.

Even with this on board, there are issues with which customers used to much more expensive European brands could take umbrage. With the sports driver's seat, for instance, there's a requirement for manual backrest angle and seat lumbar adjustment, despite an electric switch for seat height and travel. There's no electric adjustment for the front passenger's seat. No nice, soft damping to all the lidded areas. And no glovebox lock.

Nor is there the same level of fit and finish we've come to expect from prestige marques. These can be seen as minor details considering the value that comes with the pricing, specification and the first-class packaging and accommodation common to all 4WD wagons built at Ford Australia's Broadmeadows plant.

As a blistering Ghia Turbo, the Territory becomes something else again - something true individuals are sure to find seductive.

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Range and Specs

Ghia (4x4) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $3,700 – 5,940 2006 Ford Territory 2006 Ghia (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Ghia (RWD) 4.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,700 – 4,620 2006 Ford Territory 2006 Ghia (RWD) Pricing and Specs
Ghia Turbo (4x4) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $4,200 – 6,820 2006 Ford Territory 2006 Ghia Turbo (4x4) Pricing and Specs
SR (4X4) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $2,700 – 4,620 2006 Ford Territory 2006 SR (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Terry Martin
Contributing Journalist


Pricing Guide


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