REVIEW: New Ford Territory makes a good case for itself, but the competition is fierce

Published May 24, 2024


It’s heartening to see that Ford has added the Territory family midsize SUV into their offerings giving blue oval aficionados an alternative to their traditional bakkie and Everest offerings.

It’s a tough segment that they’re playing in, with up to 34 other contenders vying for attention including the Toyota RAV4, VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and of course Chinese offerings like the Jaecoo J7, Haval H6, Chery Tiggo 7 and 8 Pro and 8 Pro Max.

The Territory has a strong Chinese connection with it being manufactured in Nanchang by Jiangling Motors Co more commonly known as JMC, as part of a joint venture with Ford.

We recently had the top-spec Titanium on test for a few days that included a drive to the massively impressive NAMPO agricultural show just outside Bothaville.

For a midsize SUV it’s deceptively big and while its design and lines doesn’t take your breath away it’s not an ugly duckling by any means.

Thankfully the front isn’t dominated by an in-your-face grille but it’s rather slightly understated with signature LED daytime running lights neatly displayed on either side.

The Titanium stands on 19-inch alloys, giving it a significantly sporting stance.

The interior is a mix of hard and soft touch materials. Build quality feels solid and fairly refined as does the switchgear and thankfully the volume control sits on the centre console and is easy to reach.

The 12.3-ich instrument cluster is digital, of course, and as we’ve become accustomed to with Ford, there’s a 12.3-inch infotainment system with crisp graphics and is fairly easy to use.

The cabin has plenty of screen real estate. Picture: Supplied / Ford SA

The upholstery is leather and the seating rather firm, and as we’ve felt in some other Chinese brands you sit on them rather than in them, and after three hours in the saddle, I was starting to feel the bones in my backside.

I’m not one for large sunroofs and glass but we did enjoy the dual sliding moonroof heading back into the sunset on a balmy autumn evening with the mealie fields passing by.

Rear seating is impressive, with ample space for my legs behind my driving position, and with 448 litres of luggage space (1,422 litres with the rear seats folded) the Territory will be well-liked by families.

It’s powered by a new 1.8-litre four cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine, delivering 138kW and 318Nm coupled to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

We were almost exclusively in Normal Mode but there’s also the option of Eco, Sport and Mountain activated by an ‘Easy Swipe’ feature on the touchscreen.

It was my first drive in the Territory and leaving well before sunrise to miss the Joburg early morning traffic on the N1, I was struck by how sensitive the brakes were and it took a while before I was able to feather them lightly and prevent any sudden stops.

The new Territory is handsome, but not head-turning. Picture: Supplied / Ford SA

Ford has a winner with the 1.8-litre EcoBoost and it quickly slots into a comfortable rhythm on the open road.

We have, however, become accustomed to the perfect clutch calibration of the locally built Ford Ranger Bakkies, Everest SUVs and the imported Puma. In this regard, the Territory is not quite there yet, it’s substantially better than other Chinese manufacturers in terms of linear power delivery and it’s fine for cruising, but in heavy traffic it needs more nuance.

So does the Adaptive Cruise Control and on more than one occasion it would pick up grass verges and guardrails on gentle bends and frustratingly slow the vehicle down.

It does sit well around corners and the chassis and suspension combine well, giving it a decent drive and making short work of suburban road imperfections and a 10 kilometre stretch of badly corrugated gravel on the way to the venue.

We were also treated to the myriad of pings and bongs of the Territory’s significant list of safety features. It seems that for everyone there’s some sort of warning, even when there’s no danger like passing a car or switching lanes with lights flashing and alarms sounding making you doubt your own driving ability.

Automatic Emergency Braking is a fantastic feature but it needs to differentiate between slowing down behind a car in traffic using the engine compression and stomping down on the brake on your behalf with red alert lights and throwing you full-on into your seatbelt.

They’re fairly minor eccentric irritations in an otherwise very pleasant overall experience, and with almost two full tanks over the period we drove it, an average consumption of 7.2l/100km is top notch in these difficult times.


At R707,000 (excluding optional six-year/90 000km service plan) or R721,000 (including), the Ford 1.8T Titanium Ford Territory plays in a very congested space and competition is fierce, especially from the Koreans, but it does pip the other Chinese offerings in terms of ride quality and driving experience.

There are cheaper options in the range though, with the Ambiente starting at R576,000.