The all-new 2021 Ford Territory compact SUV is now on sale in the Philippines. Aiming to rival the likes of the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Geely Azkarra, MG RX5, among other compact SUVs, Ford’s latest offering brings to the table cutting-edge technology and features at an aggressively affordable price that should make competitors worried.
As a recap, the Ford Territory is the result of a joint venture between American automaker Ford and Chinese automaker JMC. The joint venture is due to how the Chinese auto industry works. In order for foreign carmakers (except foreign electric carmakers) to be able to operate in the world’s second-largest car market, they must partner with a local Chinese car company. This Ford and JMC partnership is just one of those. Another noteworthy example is the SAIC Volkswagen joint venture, which resulted in the development of the Santana, Lavida and Lamando. Now, does it matter where the Ford Territory came from? Absolutely not.
Upon finally seeing the all-new Territory in person, I’m surprised at how handsome this SUV looks. The front end features a mesh grille flanked by LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. At the sides, there’s a strong character line running from the front wheel arches all the way to the taillights. The way that the side windows have been designed gives this SUV the impression of having a coupe-like roofline. Moving towards the back, the D-pillars have been blacked out in order to give this SUV a floating roof effect. Combined with those sharp LED taillights, the Ford Territory’s rear end looks quite sleek.
The interior of the 2021 Ford Territory has a lot of neat design touches. Premium soft-touch injection molded plastics are used on the dashboard and upper parts of the doors. Plus there are also unique toggle switches below the 10-inch touch screen. Front occupants will love the cooled seats–which are definitely a must in our country. Drivers will also appreciate the highly-configurable fully digital instrument cluster. At night, the Ford Territory’s interior looks very distinctive with the abundance of LED ambient lighting. While the interior is generally a nice place to be in, I am not exactly a fan of the acres of piano black plastic and the weird ergonomic choices. To further explain my point, we have to head towards the infotainment system.
Obviously, this 10-inch touch screen you’re seeing here isn’t Ford’s own SYNC infotainment system. While touch response is generally okay, the quadrant-style user interface is too distracting to use while on the move. What’s worse is the fact that literally all the controls for the air conditioning have been embedded into the infotainment system. Because of this, you need to leave whatever app or menu you’re in just to change the temperature or fan speed. That’s two or three swipes too much for something that’s supposed to be as simple as twisting a knob or pressing a button. At least there’s Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay–a first in the Philippine automotive industry.
Moving towards the back seats, and passengers will appreciate the sheer amount of available space. Headroom and legroom are very generous. Plus a panoramic sunroof is standard on all variants. The interior is also pretty wide for three adults to sit in without fighting for shoulder room. As for trunk space, Ford has not given any figures. Though on our first impressions, it seems to be on the smaller side when compared to the Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester.
Powering the Ford Territory is a 1.5-liter inline-4 EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 143 hp from 4,500 to 5,200 RPM and 225 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 RPM. These are pretty punchy numbers for a small turbocharged engine. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT–the first Ford in probably more than 10 years to utilize this type of transmission.
Ford says that the Territory has been rigorously tested at Ford’s testing centers in Nanjing, China and at the Geelong Proving Grounds in Melbourne, Australia. The company also says that this ensures that their latest SUV meets Ford’s stringent engineering and quality standards. How does the globally-designed Ford Territory feel like to drive? Surprisingly good actually.
Based on our first impressions, the 2021 Ford Territory’s turbocharged gasoline engine delivers strong torque from the low to mid RPMs. This is a good thing since you do not need to rev the engine as much in order to accelerate. Driven under normal circumstances, the CVT is also able to adjust to the correct ratio most of the time.
However, unlike most CVTs nowadays that try to mimic a traditional torque converter automatic, the one used in the Ford Territory holds the revs. That “rubber band effect” under hard acceleration means that as the car speeds up, the CVT constantly holds on to a single RPM range. In addition, there’s also a little bit of delay in the CVT’s response when accelerating from a stop or when overtaking. Not exactly a linear or a sporty experience.
With its very light electric steering, relaxed powertrain tuning and soft suspension, the Ford Territory is more of a comfortable cruiser rather than a sporty canyon carver. Ford is proud to highlight the Territory’s “finely-tuned Ford suspension,” and this is reflected in my one-day experience. A lot of families will appreciate that the Ford Territory remains hushed even on rough patches of road. And while there’s that engine droning due to the CVT’s tuning, noise levels are relatively well contained. It also helps that chassis rigidity is pretty solid with no shakes or rattles disturbing the occupants.
Further making the driving experience more comfortable is the addition of Ford Co-Pilot360, which is the American automaker’s suite of advanced driver-assist features. Equipped as standard on this Titanium variant, Co-Pilot360 includes automatic emergency braking, radar-guided adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, and Ford’s Active Park Assist system for both parallel and perpendicular parking. There’s also a nifty 360-degree camera system with numerous viewing angles similar to what you would find in a Geely Coolray.
As for fuel economy, it’s hard to give a final conclusion since we’ve only had one day with the 2021 Ford Territory. Though if 11.9 km/l during my one day use is any indication of its fuel economy, then the Ford Territory should be frugal at the pumps.
The 2021 Ford Territory is a great addition to the American automaker’s growing SUV and truck lineup. The comfort-oriented and refined nature of this SUV should please a lot of families. It also certainly helps that this compact SUV is aggressively priced. Ford is offering the all-new Territory at an introductory price of P1,179,000 for the Trend and P1,299,000 for this Titanium variant we have here. These are very affordable prices for a high-tech compact SUV, especially since not much separates this and the smaller subcompact EcoSport in terms of pricing. Also, for a limited time, Ford Philippines is throwing in free maintenance for 3 years for easier ownership.
As a whole, it doesn’t matter that the Ford Territory is the result of a joint venture between Ford and Chinese automaker JMC. Taken into isolation and removing all prejudices, this SUV is not just good as a Chinese-American effort. It’s simply a good world-class SUV in general–one that’s ready to surprise the segment with its tech-loaded features and aggressive pricing.