Toolbox
The Ford Territory SY six-speed is smooth to drive and primed to suit many caravan styles.

By Tom Olthoff

 

It only took a short drive to appreciate why the Ford Territory is such a popular car – it just seems to have and do everything the way you’d like it to.

 

That is not to say that CW wasn’t aware of its attributes, as we had driven a Territory shortly after its release, but because we might like something doesn’t mean the public will accept it.

In this case, I think it’s fair to say that the sales of Ford’s two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD) Territory models have surprised many in the trade.

 

Designed, engineered and built in Australia, the Ford Territory is available as a TX, TS and the top of the range Ghia. All models are available as a rear-wheel drive (RWD) or full-time AWD and feature the unique Acutrac or Acutrac Plus system that delivers sedan-like driving dynamics, handling and stability.

 

The RWD Acutrac offers Grade Control Logic to assist with braking and speed control when descending steep hills as well as ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Traction Control to minimise wheel slip.

 

Dynamic Stability Control – standard on the RWD Ghia and optional on the TS and TX RWD models – provides more accurate cornering. Acutrac Plus on the AWD models includes all the Acutrac features plus the added benefit of Dynamic Stability Control as standard and optional Hill Descent Control.

 

Improvements

The latest version of the award-winning Territory incorporates many changes, the main ones being the engine and the transmission.

 

The six-cylinder 4L double overhead cam engine, featuring Dual Independent Variable Cam Timing, produces 190kW of power and an impressive 380Nm of torque. The result is excellent pulling power together with good economy.

 

Further enhancing the performance is the German-engineered ZF six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift that is standard on all the AWD models.

It is super smooth with gear changes that are almost undetectable. A four-speed transmission is standard on RWD models.

 

Some clever modifications to the engine have resulted in worthwhile improvements in the ADR 81.1 fuel consumption figures. As the consumption on the first tow test was affected by some strong headwinds we were keen to see how it would go second time around.

 

Contrary to popular belief, getting good consumption figures is actually quite easy – simply keep the speed and the load down. Of course, in the real world that isn’t always possible, particularly when you are towing a heavy caravan.

 

So to obtain some meaningful data (something that time limitations don’t always permit) CW decided to do a quick return trip between Melbourne and Adelaide – one way solo, the other with a van in tow.

 

The solo section was most impressive. Between Tailem Bend in SA and Melbourne the AWD Territory consumed 10.6 L/100km while averaging 96km/h for the journey.

 

Not unexpectedly, travelling through the Adelaide Hills increased this to 13.7 L/100km, and about 200km through Melbourne city and suburbs used up 12.8 L/100km.

 

Towing was another story. We hitched on a 19ft 8in (6m) full-height Regent centre-door caravan that weighed just short of 2000kg.

 

At a steady 80km/h in fifth gear (sixth gear made the engine turn too slowly) the trip computer showed 16.5L/100km. As road conditions were favourable we decided to cruise at a faster speed.

 

At 95km/h consumption increased to 20.5L/100km. After doing all the sums the average for 650km from Melbourne to Tailem Bend, SA, came to 18.9km/h at an average speed of 82km/h.

 

Based on our experiences it would be fair to say that the Territory is capable of returning respectable consumption figures if towing speed were kept around the 85km/h mark. And, of course, a lighter caravan would help too.

 

Before discussing the benefits of the transmission, let’s look at a couple of analogies. In the dim and dark past, I owned a HR Holden with a two-speed Powerglide transmission. It did an acceptable job but often one gear was too high, the other too low.

 

When towing, the torque converter worked hard most of the time and a good oil cooler was mandatory. Fuel consumption was something you usually didn’t boast about.

 

Along came three and four-speed autos and many thought this was what the doctor ordered. Then a couple of manufacturers came along with five-speed autos and that seemed to be the pinnacle when it came to towing and fuel consumption.

 

Now we can have a six-speed transmission without needing to buy an expensive sports car.

 

So what are the benefits of having more and more gear ratios from which to choose?

 

The answer is simple – it provides the right gear for the job irrespective of the load, speed or gradient.

 

This makes it easier for the engine to do its work and results in less fuel usage.

In the case of the six-speed automatic in the Ford Territory, the advantages are probably greater when doing a lot of towing as there tends to be a wider variation in the loads imposed on the engine.

 

As far as the actual operation is concerned, there are three choices. You can simply select ‘D’ and let the transmission work out the best gear for the prevailing conditions, select the performance mode or use it as a manual.

 

While selecting ‘D’ makes for effortless driving under most conditions, it can result in too much use of the brake pedal when descending long hills with a trailer in tow, eg, coming down through Adelaide’s Mount Lofty Ranges from Crafers to Glen Osmond.

 

Under these conditions it is beneficial to push the gear lever over to the manual side and select a lower gear to keep the speed in check.

 

When first moving the gear lever in to the manual slot, the transmission goes into the ‘performance’ mode. This cuts out sixth gear and alters the gear changes for more responsive driving, which can be an advantage when towing.

 

Once the gear selector has been moved forwards or backwards, the transmission goes into manual mode and it is up to the driver to select the best gear. Like most sequential type transmissions, down changes will occur as speed reduces.

 

However, when moving off or increasing speed with the manual mode selected, it is up to the driver to change up. In these situations I opted for pulling the lever back to ‘D’ and left it up to the transmission to take care of the up changes.

 

The ZF transmission can also ‘learn’ the driver’s driving habits. It stores information related to acceleration and deceleration, brake and throttle application and cornering speed and makes changes to ensure the car is in the right gear at the right time.

 

Towing Equipment

The Ford Territory is rated to tow a maximum of 2300kg and support up to 230kg on the towball, with the appropriate equipment of course.

 

There is a choice of a Standard Towpack with 1600kg capacity as well as the Heavy Duty 2300kg kit. If the trailer has no brakes, 750kg is the limit, and it may be necessary to reduce the weight of the trailer if the vehicle load consists of more than five occupants or the rear axle load is likely to exceed 1530kg.

 

In addition to having designed its own towbars, Ford can also supply weight distribution or load-levelling equipment. While it is possible to use the ballmount in two different positions, it is unfortunately not adjustable.

 

For the Regent to be level when hitched up we needed the coupling to be 450mm from the ground. Ford’s hitch provided 360mm or 540mm. Hence it was back to the trusty Hayman Reese adjustable ballmount.

 

On rear-wheel drive models an auxiliary transmission oil cooler must be fitted.

 

Matching a van to a test vehicle is not always easy, and CW tries to get something realistic so that it will provide an accurate indication of the vehicle’s capabilities.

 

Although the Regent is larger than would normally be recommended, we considered it a good match as it wasn’t going to be loaded to its ATM of 2400kg. With a Tare of 1980kg it was a representative load as far as the Territory was concerned.

 

The Regent towed like a dream, in a large part due to its rearward axle location. Being overtaken by other vehicles had no effect, and stability was excellent even when purposely running off the edge of a narrow piece of road to allow a B-double to pass safely.

 

People opting for a centre-door caravan need to determine if the loaded van’s ball weight will be within the capabilities and specifications of their tow vehicle.

 

The Bottom Line

Australian motorists are fortunate to have such a large range of vehicles to choose from. Irrespective of your needs, there are at least half a dozen vehicles that will do the job.

 

When it comes to towing, there is always more than one function that has to be satisfied. A vehicle like the Ford Territory, be it 2WD or AWD, can fulfil a multitude of needs.

 

Depending on model, the Territory can seat seven, has lots of storage space, rides and drives like a sedan and can tackle some pretty rough tracks thanks to the extra ground clearance.

While the AWD may lack the low ratio offered on the likes of the Ford Explorer, it is more than adequate for the motorist who occasionally wants to do some offroad exploring.

 

The realistic towing specification of 2300kg means that probably 90 per cent of all trailer type RVs bought in Australia can be safely towed behind a Ford Territory. With prices starting at $40,000, it represents value for money.

 

Anyone looking for more power can choose the turbocharged version. With 480Nm of torque on tap there isn’t much that will slow it down, and a bit further down the track there is also likely to be a diesel version.

 

For more information visit the Ford Australia website, www.ford.com.au

 

Ford Territory AWD
Engine: 4L DOHC DIVCT Inline 6-cylinder
Max. power: 190kW @ 5250rpm
Max. torque: 383Nm @ 2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sequential Sports Mode
Length: 4856mm
Width: 1898mm
Height: 1714mm
Wheelbase: 2842mm
Ground clearance: 179mm
Kerb mass: 1995kg-2125kg (depending on model)
Rear axle load: 1530kg maximum
Turning circle: 11.4m
Suspension: Front – Virtual Pivot Control Link. Rear – Control Blade IRS
Brakes: Front - Ventilated discs with single and twin piston callipers.
Fuel tank capacity: 75L
Fuel economy as per ADR 81/01:RWD – 12.2L/100km. AWD – 12.8L/100km
Towing capacity: Standard towbar – 1600kg. Heavy duty towbar – 2300kg

 

 

Published : Tuesday, 12 September 2006
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