I had high hopes when I first saw the 2023 Ford Territory. Aside from its bigger body, it seemed to fix all the quirks the first generation had. This one has a 7-speed automatic which is good news because the CVT before was very sluggish. More so, they revised the buttons under the screen to include the much needed fan controls, and the touchscreen seems to have better navigation.
Specs are one thing, actual experience is another so I’m glad when Ford Philippines invited me to drive the 2023 Ford Territory. What’s interesting is the route they’ve made for us. It looked like a bigger version of what cyclists call “Laguna Loop” because we started in Capitol Commons in Pasig and went to Marilaque instead of Taytay, before having lunch at Pagsanjan. With a lot of driving time on the winding road, I got to know the 2023 Ford Territory a lot better.
Great Drive But…
The Ford Territory was worthy of praise when we drove through the winding roads of Marilaque. The steering isn’t numb anymore and has more weight to it, giving it more precision on the turns. Ride comfort is also great despite the still noticeable body roll. Still, it’s more managed than before.
It still has the 1.5L turbo engine but the 7-speed automatic brought a great improvement on the overall drive. It’s more responsive, quick, and makes more right decisions during stop and go traffic and crawls. For the casual or newbie driver, all of this would’ve been an A+ for the Territory.
However, I can’t help but look for paddle shifters in this crossover. The engine and transmission were very lively and on point most of the time. It’s just that if you want to be quicker, like overtaking or in the corners of Marilaque, there’s no way to downshift immediately. Bury your foot on the throttle and it will take a second before the transmission downshifts for a higher rpm. It can be frustrating especially on rural roads where there are a lot of slow moving vehicles.
Now, as I said in the intro, Ford made revisions to make the Territory more familiar. There are now touch-sensitive buttons for the fan control, and the touchscreen is easier to navigate. Great! But some will still sulk that the buttons for the air controls are touch sensitive, and not tactile ones. Or that the screen has a slow response.
I am a believer of “can’t have it all” so having the touch buttons for the air control are already enough for me. Same with the touchscreen since it’s more intuitive to use, I can tolerate the slower response.
If you can look past those, the tech inside the Ford Territory is very solid. There are USB ports even for the rear passenger, wireless charger, wireless connectivity for both Apple and Android, and Advanced Driver Assist features are also available.
We tested its camera system and active park assist once we arrived at Anya Resort in Tagaytay. I find the cameras clearer and more accurate with their surroundings this time around. The Active Park Assist is also more human-like in the 2023 Territory in that it doesn’t have abrupt motions anymore. The steering, throttle, and braking are done so well that you’ll think you have a driver.
It’s great that Ford admitted their faults (albeit in a subtle manner) and overhauled the Territory instead of refreshes or small updates. With the improvements done with the Territory, I can say it’s a great successor to the first generation. I will even put it alongside the EcoSport which popularized the subcompact crossover segment in the country some years back.
It’s not perfect for sure but the cons are too few this time. How else can you complain if things like Active Park Assist and 360-camera system are things you can have even without going for the top of the line. The Ford Territory was able to continue its own path in the market that none could follow. Its size, price, and features ratio is so great that it will take a while before it finds a worthy rival.