With more than 10,000 examples on Philippine roads, the Ford Territory can be considered a runaway hit. Ford took a risk to launch the compact crossover in the middle of a pandemic two years ago. People have learned to adapt to the new normal, and they’ve held their finances in anticipation of Covid-19 exposure. But the Ford Territory has proven itself a value proposition too good to ignore.
We recently got behind the wheel of a Territory Titanium+, the sole remaining variant now sold in Ford showrooms for the nameplate, to see why people have been raving about this crossover. It is an impressive package for its PHP 1.31 million price tag, especially when you pit the Territory against other Japanese offerings such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Subaru Forester.
What's going for the Ford Territory
Stating the obvious, the Ford Territory goes toe-to-toe against the established competition in terms of dimensions. It has replaced the Ford Escape as the American brand’s compact crossover offering while simultaneously replacing the Ford Ecosport as its sole crossover.
The protruding fender arches likewise reinforce its imposing presence on the road. Add the 180 mm ground clearance, and you get a proper crossover with sporting credentials good enough to drive through mild flooding confidently.
Despite its heft, the Ford Territory did not feel laboring to drive, and its light steering made sure to take over the muscle effort needed in maneuvering the 4.58-meter crossover.
Because of its size and tall seating, you feel like you’re driving a proper SUV. The commanding view and expansive interior space throw thoughts of claustrophobia out the window. You might entertain thoughts of driving an American SUV when behind the wheel of the Territory because shoulder room, headroom, and rear legroom are all enough to satisfy a six-footer.
To say the Ford Territory is loaded is an understatement. This crossover is packed to the brim with features and tech that customers want. And here are just some of the highlights:
- Headlights and DRL are all LED pieces
- 18-inch wheels
- Panoramic moonroof
- Leather upholstery
- Ventilated and heated seats
- 10-inch digital instrument panel
- 10-way power seats for the driver
- 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay
- Built-in Ionizer with CN95 filter
And it goes the same with safety tech as the Ford Territory is loaded with driver aids sensors typically found in higher-priced SUVs. These include:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning
- Lane Departure Warning
- Enhanced Active Parking Assist
- Blind Spot Information System
- High-definition 360-degree camera
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- Six airbags
At PHP 1,310,000, the Ford Territory runs circles around the legacy brands’ offerings, and it undercuts them by hundreds of thousands of pesos in terms of SRP and perceived value. Ford only offers the Territory as a front-wheel drive, further reducing the complexity of its lineup.
The long list of features is enough to sway an average car buyer into springing for a Ford Territory. But it’s in the little bits where the most finicky of car buyers and enthusiasts will find shortcomings in this crossover.
Where the Ford Territory Needs Improvement
The Ford Territory’s ride is steady and composed, and it responds to ruts with some solidity similar to what you’d expect from a more expensive crossover in the same category. But the way it responds to throttle and brake input shows there are still some aspects of the car that needs more development.
Braking feel can be less than confidence inspiring. You step on the pedal with an unresponsive initial bite, so you step on the pedal harder, and suddenly the brake pads and rotors decide to hold on to each other for dear life. The inconsistent feel can make brake modulation a challenging exercise, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
Delayed throttle response is also another issue. But it seems more of the CVT transmission’s trademark rubbery operation than the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine’s lack of grunt. While CVTs help fuel economy, the known trade-off will be the “Gimme a second to think about it” phenomenon regarding delayed transmission reaction.
Vague steering feel
While having light steering is beneficial, it can be unnerving when driven on the open highway. Older cars tend to self-center the steering wheel. For the Ford Territory, you must have the presence of mind to unwind the wheel yourself.
Small instrument cluster
For a vehicle so huge and an interior so voluminous, you’d expect the instrument cluster of the Ford Territory to occupy more significant real estate and present essential driving information. The 10-inch LCD panel crams information into a small space using small fonts.
Switching from long-distance vision as you look ahead while driving to short-range reading as you look down at the instrument display makes you spend a few seconds trying to refocus and find the numbers you need. The different display types, from Classic to Fashion and Sport, only confuse you more as the dials and numbers can shift around the display. Best to stick to one of the three types and get used to seeing where the numbers are so you can get the needed information faster.
Hampered A-pillar visibility
The A-pillars in the Ford Territory are thick, and you can hide a motorcyclist or pedestrian behind them. Having a second look or propping yourself forward before making a turn should be an SOP. Extra care helps even when you have Autonomous Emergency Braking on hand.
Weak air conditioning
Even with the temperature set to 18 degrees Celsius, the Ford Territory's air conditioning didn't seem to have that biting cold feel. And that's with the blower speed set to medium already. Aside from this demo unit not having window tint, the large moonroof is also a heat source. Even with the retractable shade covering the panoramic glass, you'll feel the warmth more pronounced in this area than in the roof's perimeter, where the metal frame shields the headliner. I highly recommend tinting the car's windows if you want to feel more of the cool air inside the cabin.
There's a downside to having all the car's major functions embedded in the touchscreen infotainment system, and that is when the software running it glitches. And that remains true with whatever brand and model.
Generally, the Ford Territory's touchscreen did feel responsive enough for everyday operation. But having an error when booting up can cause some functions to become unavailable. The A/C controls on the touchscreen became unresponsive at one point in this review. And I had to turn off the ignition and leave the car for a few minutes before the system fixed itself. Not connecting your phone to the USB ports while starting the vehicle and booting up the system may also help avoid this scenario.
No car is perfect. And the Ford Territory sure isn’t. But this compact crossover has continued to tick some significant boxes for many car buyers over the past two years. Ford expects to sell a total of 15,000 of these before yearend. And to these car buyers, it doesn’t even matter that the Territory is built and sourced from China. They'd be willing to gamble on the Territory if it presents value and is backed up by an established dealership network. Which it undoubtedly is.
With a spec sheet like that and a price that seriously undercuts most of the competition, the Ford Territory is one success story that Ford Philippines can be proud of.