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Chasing sunrise with the Ford Territory

Chasing sunrise with the Ford Territory

IT was during the height of the early pandemic lockdowns when the blue oval brand ushered in the all-new Ford Territory.

For that reason, many of us in the motoring media never got the chance to see it in the metal—just as we should. Fast forward to late 2021, when restrictions started easing and at the same time government vaccination program ramped up, Ford Philippines decided it was the right time for us to experience it finally. However, unlike the usual setup, the hosted drive event was regulated with fewer attendees to ensure adherence to necessary health safety protocols.

The Titanium+ variant sporting a Moonstone Blue shade was assigned to us, which was delivered prior. Finally, seeing the vehicle up close, its seemingly indicative design resemblance to a known English-made crossover was apparent, particularly the rear end. According to Ford, the all-new Territory represents the brand’s known and tested DNA in its design, engineering, and capability to meet the highest global quality standards. The vehicle is also a product of a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and Jiangling Motors Corp.

The Territory’s overall contemporary appearance stemmed from its significant influence through its Ford Design Studio in Melbourne, Australia. The Territory boasts an urban-ready design highlighted by standard LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, tail lamps, front and rear fog lamps. More so, it has a rear spoiler, roof rails, front/rear bottom metal garnishes, and twin polished faux exhaust tips. Exclusive to the Titanium+ variant is the the18-inch alloy wheels, front grille’s gloss black with chrome inserts.

Meanwhile, the interior offers a premium and refined element with seats wrapped in perforated leather material, integrated with cooling/heating functions. We like the layout, particularly the higher center console with clustered control buttons. Then there is Smart Keyless Entry with Push Button Start, tilt and telescopic steering wheel-embedded controls, seven cup and bottle holders, rear air-con vents, USB ports, plus a 12-volt power outlet, to name a few. However, the main highlights inside are the 10-inch fully-digital display instrument cluster with three themes (Normal, Sport, and Fashion), and the standard 10-inch touchscreen infotainment with an adjustable quad view, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functions. Aside from wireless charging, even the ambient lighting has seven color options to complement every mood.

Chasing sunrise with the Ford Territory

Uphill drive

Another exciting change was the objective to reach the destination at first light. Our staging point was in Thunderbird Resort Rizal in Binangonan, where the entire group converged the previous day. Two hours before sunrise, the convoy flagged off, and the destination was Viewscape Nature’s Park in Tanay. En route to our destination, the convoy had to navigate the winding uphill stretch of Marilaque highway.

One of the Territory’s strong points is its 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine generating 141 hp and 225 N-m of maximum torque mated to a CVT transmission with Sport mode. Since driving uphill with curves is all about torque and sporting a turbocharged engine is an advantage. True enough, as soon as the ascents surfaced, all we had to do was step on it while the potent motor did its job. While the CVT demonstrated seamless cogs, the manual mode was a plus. We got to play around gears to remain within the optimum rpm range, and the torque delivery was unrelenting. The sweet spot is anywhere above the low-end range. On every turn, the manual mode became a plus whenever there was a need to do engine braking. Nevertheless, what surprised us was the vehicle’s ability to handle constant and tight curves. For a compact SUV with a higher center of gravity, the Territory engaged like a nimble car. As for the steering, the responsiveness made every turn easier and calculated. Overall, the entire drive became relatively relaxed and manageable, not to mention the conducive cabin layout with a comfy driving position.

We finally reached our destination just in time for the first light. Considering how long it has been since we had driven like these, the breathtaking scenery of the sunrise was more than a reward for getting up early and driving through the dark, ascending, and winding highway. There, we settled in the campsite set up by Ford. It was hours before noontime by the time we left, and the empty highways we navigated earlier became crowded with slower cars. It was when the Territory’s 1.5-loter EcoBoost engine retook control. The torque registration was consistent on manual mode and surpassed slow cars like a walk in the park. The downhill drive also necessitated more engine braking making the manual mode a plus. We cannot get enough with the vehicle’s impressive handling and control on turns. Just like that, we made it back to the resort.

The Territory Titanium+ we tested comes with the Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assist tech. It includes Active Park Assist with parallel-parking, perpendicular parking (segment-first), 360 Degree Around View Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Information System, and Lane Departure Warning. As for advanced safety features, both variants have Electronic Stability Control, and even Tire Pressure Monitoring System (with individual tire pressure display), among others.

8,000 ways to celebrate

Meanwhile, just 15 months since its launch, the Ford Territory recently achieved its 8,000th sales milestone in the Philippines last November. It only proves its continued popularity among Filipino SUV buyers.

“From the 5,000th customer milestone last July to achieving the 8,000th customer milestone shortly after, this is truly an outstanding feat and would not be possible without the immense support from our customers, dealers, partners, and employees,” said Michael Breen, managing director, Ford Philippines. “The Territory has become a familiar sight on Philippine roads, and we are very excited to see more Filipino customers enjoy driving a smart, safe, stylish, and feature-packed SUV.”

Image credits: Ford Philippines

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