All-new Ford Territory First Impressions: Good specs, great pricing

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I was wrong. With careful research and comparison with its competitor from its source country, I gave a speculative pricing of the all-new Ford Territory. But my numbers were off – like way off.

As it turns out, Ford’s new compact crossover disappoints me, but in a good way. With an introductory price of P1.179 million for the Trend variant and P1.299 million for the top-spec Titanium+ trim, I missed it by P300,000. Good thing speculative pricing isn’t as dangerous as the questionable number COVID-19 cases we see on the news daily, but I digress.

So, what gives? Does this pricing mean lesser value for the newest Ford crossover? Ford Philippines hosted a quick drive with several media personnel even before the Territory’s official launch. Since I was eager enough to guess its price, I took the chance when my editor offered the task.

Here’s what you need to know about the all-new Territory, based on close inspection in the metal and the quick drive.

Design: Ford DNA

Though Ford and China’s JMC co-developed the Territory, the Blue Oval said that it is deeply involved with its overall design through the company’s design center in Australia. I believe them, as the Territory bears a resemblance to the new Explorer. Just look at the front grille, the blacked-out signature D-pillar, and the deep cuts on profile – it’s like a baby Explorer, at least in my eyes.

The shower of LEDs from the front to the rear is a plus, but I couldn’t help but notice the faux twin exhaust pipes at the back – not a fan of those. Plus, the Titanium+ has a lot of chromed parts; those work for the new Moonstone Blue color, but not so much on darker hues like the Ruby Red.

Cabin: Almost perfect

I am particularly meticulous with materials used inside a cabin, especially when prices go over a million pesos. In that regard, the Territory didn’t disappoint. The seats are wrapped in soft perforated leather, as is the entire dashboard that’s accentuated with matte faux wood accents. Those wood veneers are present all the way to the back, adding a touch of class into the crossover.

As for space, I have nothing to complain about. I stand at 5’6” and I fit in snugly whether in the front or at the back. Take note, though, that if you’re as tall as James Deakin, you might want to check if that sloping roofline allows for a comfortable headroom.

The overall cabin design is almost perfect, with emphasis on ‘almost’ since there’s one caveat that I couldn’t ignore – shiny black plastics. In my experience in testing vehicles, they’re almost always scratch easily. And since most of the Territory’s piano black plastics are located in touchpoints, you have to be extra careful when moving around the cabin. Lose your rings when driving, perhaps?

Nevertheless, both Trend and Titanium+ variants get a panoramic moonroof. Yes, it’s called a moonroof because you won’t dare open that thing under brisk sunlight.

Features: A great overkill

Ford pulled all the stops to fill the Territory’s spec sheet. I can imagine the company’s product planning team having fun ticking all the boxes – like when your boss sponsors a lunch out at a Chinese restaurant.

In fact, the tech toys are so many, I don’t want to list them all here, but I’ll give you the notables and those you’ll most likely use daily. It has a 360-degree-view camera with front, rear, and corner proximity sensors (perfect for tight spaces), automated parking assist (if you didn’t listen to your driving instructor), brake hold (for stop-and-go traffic), ventilated seats (when you park outdoors during the day), adaptive cruise control (when you’re lazy driving on the highway), and my personal favorite, a wireless charger that works.

Quick Drive: Not outstanding

Unfortunately, the Territory’s greatness stops with its engine and drivetrain. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not bad, but it’s not great either – at least after that quick drive. I appreciate Ford for equipping the Territory with a derivative of its award-winning EcoBoost engine. I also appreciate the deviation from dry dual-clutch gearboxes.

But a CVT and a turbocharged four-banger isn’t exactly a perfect match, especially if you’re expecting a sporty drive in mid-range speeds. You’ll find yourself revving high to get that satisfying pull only to find yourself needing to halt as the turbo boost kicks in. And that in itself required adjustment since the Territory’s brakes feel a bit mushy. But for daily city errands, the powertrain setup should suffice.

As a silver lining, the Territory has above-average handling. There was a long corner on the test route – I attacked it at (safe) speeds and was pleased with minimal body roll, plus the light steering feel (and the HD around-view monitor) provide easy maneuverability even in tight spaces. Suspension, at least with the few potholes of BGC, was pliant and sound insulation was okay for the most part.

Verdict

Admittedly, a quick drive wouldn’t justify what the Territory could offer, especially with its bevy of tech toys. There are a lot of things that I would like to test in a full review, like how it behaves on the highway (most notably, its adaptive cruise control) or if the slew of tech features will remain effective and consistent throughout the testing period.

But from what I gathered and on face value, the Territory is promising, considering that its price tag upends every other compact crossover in the market today. As it stands and while the introductory pricing is still on offer, the Territory is almost the most affordable compact crossover your money can buy, with the MG RX5 taking the superlative rank by a hair over a hundred pesos.

And oh, Ford offers free preventive maintenance service for three years when you buy a Territory until September 30, so if your situation permits, you might want to test one out for yourself.

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