Jumping to conclusions, that’s an easy trap to fall into as a car reviewer. Everyone keeps saying, don’t judge a book by its cover, or don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. In summary, that’s our experience with the Ford Territory. For starters, it’s a very different kind of Ford. We’re used to the Blue Oval’s vehicles having a certain western-approach to its design – muscular lines and whatnot.
However, this is such a departure from the Thai-made or US-made Fords we’ve grown accustomed to in the Philippines. Let’s take a look at the 2021 Ford Territory in its Titanium+ variant, and see just how good it is – spoiler – it’s quite impressive. So impressive that finding something to dislike about this car was a bit difficult. Let’s dive in.
In terms of looking like a Ford, it kind of resembles the refreshed Ford Explorer in the front. Though, the moment you go to the back, you can see some of that eastern influence. It reminds us of another popular crossover, however, it only has a passing resemblance. The front headlights are LEDs, which get pretty bright and are complemented by the warmer colored fog lamps. The turn signals are also LEDs, which add a lot of functionality to the front clip.
On the side, you get a floating roofline, gorgeous all-LED tail lights, and also that ever-important ground clearance which comes in at 180 mm. You also get 18-inch wheels in a two-tone finish which look good, though a nitpick would be that the offset or the width of the wheels make the crossover look like it’s on stilts. Though, that’s not too big of a deal if we’re being honest.
We’re actually impressed by the exterior of the Territory. There are only a few things that we can nitpick, like these faux exhaust tips. However, it is one of the better cars out there especially for the price, which we will get to in a bit.
After having a gawk at the exterior, the interior is also another new experience for us. Instead of being a parts-bin Ford – cobbled together, at least for the Philippine lineup, the Territory actually looks unique or bespoke. If you’re used to Ford’s interior design language, you’ll find that the Territory is a breath of fresh air. Since it is produced by JMC in partnership with Ford, the crossover features a very different experience for the driver and passenger. The EcoSport is the entry-level offering in the Blue Oval’s lineup, and the Territory slots above it, so you can expect a lot more from this model. Even with our expectation we were still impressed, however, the design is a little contradictory.
First off, you get a very futuristic design with a lot of sharp angles and cuts all around. It’s not flowing lines like that of its rivals, but the design exudes a more youthful approach to design. You do get glossy black plastics on the center console and on the infotainment system, which is not ideal, but it gives a nice contrast to the predominantly matte interior. Though, those youthful lines are broken up by some old-school-looking wood panels, that add a touch of class to the Territory. It’s a good thing that these panels are dark-colored and matte so they tend to blend in better. There are no creaky panels anywhere and all the buttons that you interact with are great to the touch.
Other than that, you are also looking at a lot of space for the passengers. With rear seats that are comparable to midsize SUVs and Crossovers, rear passengers get quite a lot of headroom and good amounts of leg room. The feeling of space is also bolstered by the panoramic sunroof that extends all the way to the back, which allows everyone to get their daily dose of vitamin D. The praise continues to the cargo area because it may seem like your run of the mill compact crossover with about 420-liters of space, but there are a few smart inclusions that were engineered in like the locking rear seats which fold rather flat and lock into place revealing more than 1,000 liters of space. Even with its quirks, we still find that the Territory has one of the better interiors out in the market, losing out to only a few other crossovers, especially for the price that this model comes at.
Again, the Territory impressed us with its ride comfort. NVH at speeds slower than 100 km/h were very tolerable. Even the road noise wasn’t too much of an issue to us. Once you do get up to speed, however, the wind noise does creep in a bit, as well as the drone of the engine if you’re accelerating. In the city, expect good levels of background noise to be muffled. It’s still not active noise cancellation, but it is surprising given the price point.
Over bumps, the Territory is well-behaved. Intrusions brought about by poor road conditions are smoothed out and easily managed by the unibody chassis and the fully independent suspension at both the front and rear. You get a MacPherson strut and shock combo in the front and a multi-link system in the rear, making for a very planted and sure-footed ride.
Without even looking at the spec sheet, you can already tell that the Territory is loaded to the brim with features and tech. The badge alone is an indication that the model is not a bare-bones deal out of the box. It’s fully-featured with a very capable and large 10-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, a 360-degree camera system that is one of the clearest we’ve seen in the market, and a fully digital display that serves as your gauge cluster. Yes, even at a glance, the Territory is still one of the better-equipped models in the market.
For the average consumer, the Territory’s headline and easily-discoverable features may seal the deal, however, we should critique the model’s abundance of features that are hidden from plain view. For instance, we didn’t know that it had heated and cooled seats until we messed around with the infotainment. Also, the climate control is a little hard to access since you have to exit out of whatever program you are running, and head on over to the menu for your air conditioning. It’s a bit of a hassle to get to. The menu does need work, and we would have wanted some physical climate controls to go with this car, but it’s just something to get used to.
Then again, the Territory comes loaded with features. Active park assist is present and quite surreal to use. Adaptive cruise control seems to be one of Ford’s favorite features to kit its top of the line cars with. Accompanying that feature, naturally, is autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning which are also safety features. We’ll still give the nod and our recommendation for the Ford Territory even with its quirks however. It’s rare that you get a car as loaded at this price point with the exterior and interiors striking a chord with us.
Just like its tech, the Territory in its Titanium trim is loaded with ample amounts of safety kit. It’s got the basics covered with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Traction Control, Hill Launch Assist, and finally ISOFIX tethers. It takes things a step further with Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise control with forwarding collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
With all that, it’s one of the better equipped models in the class and at the price point. It has a few party tricks up its sleeve along with those safety features and driver aids as well, which make it a very safe choice.
Driving and Handling
Unlike the rest of the car, which is more than you actually need, the turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder motor is just adequate. Normally, when you hear the words turbocharged engine, your initial thought would lean towards powerful and peppy. With only 141 hp and 225 Nm of torque, however, it should be at least punchy, but the CVT that the car comes with ensures more smoothness than excitement. There is a sport mode and simulated gears though, but the feel of a traditional automatic is absent, which some of you may prefer. Although, if you’re most people, the car will return very sedate levels of performance and throttle responsiveness.
Handling in the city, just like any other Ford actually, is light and easy. The steering is light but sharp. You don’t get too much feel but going at the speed of naught in the traffic of Metro Manila should make steering-feel moot. Once you do get it out on the open road and turning, the chassis is actually pretty stout and rigid, again steering feel is a little on the muffled side, but it does have good sharpness. Helped along by the fully-independent front and rear suspension setup, cornering is very planted even with the high center of gravity and body roll. Speaking of which, there is still body roll present since it is a crossover, but for normal driving, the compact dimensions and good visibility make the Territory an easy car to get used to driving every day.
In the city, we averaged about 8 kilometers per liter while stuck in moderate traffic. When things cleared up on the weekend, we were able to achieve 10 km/L in Metro Manila. Headed out of the city and onto the highway, however, expect about 15 km/L which is a fair figure for a car of this class.
Let’s make things clear, the Ford Territory is the only Ford that is not a Ford in the lineup. It’s different from the rest, and that’s what makes it stand out so much. In terms of features and value, it is pretty hard to beat. In terms of ride comfort and quality, it’s up to snuff and feels more expensive than its price point suggests. The features are also higher-end and are more than you would expect at a sub P1,500,000 budget.
At P1,299,000, we really feel that Ford could have charged more for this model. To our surprise when it launched, however, there is an even more affordable model in the form of the Trend. You don’t get the same features as the Titanium+ though. If you were to get the Territory, and given the gap in terms of price, going for the top of the line model is a highly recommended consideration.
Though it isn’t without its shortcomings, it’s few and far between. We never thought the least-Ford-like car would be that impressive. If you’re not too particular about straight-line speed, then consider this.