THE first and probably only SUV ever to be produced in Australia, Ford’s Falcon-based Territory, will bow out with a minor update that includes price cuts to all variants in the line-up.

As the Blue Oval brand prepares to shut its Australian manufacturing operations in 2016, the company has this week introduced one final spruce-up for the high-riding wagon that has underpinnings dating back to the 2004 original.

While Ford Australia has concentrated its efforts on ensuring the Falcon sedan range goes out with a bang thanks to a significant redesign, the Territory’s changes are relatively minor and were only made possible with a $34 million co-investment from the federal and Victorian governments and the American auto giant.

Only keen eyes will notice the exterior changes between the SZ and SZ MkII, but they include a new grille, redesigned headlights and changes to the bonnet that Ford says gives it a “purposeful” look.

Again available in a choice of two- and all-wheel drive and petrol or diesel powertrains, the locally built SUV brings in price cuts of up to $6500, depending on the variant.

There is a $3000 saving on all TX variants, with the petrol 2WD kicking things off at $36,990 plus on-road costs, while versions with all-paw grip kick in at $45,240.

Mid-spec TS in rear-drive petrol guise open at $41,740, while 4WD brings it to $49,990, and top-spec Titanium ranges from $48,490 for the 2WD petrol to $56,740 for the 4×4 diesel.

Swapping the 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol unit for the more frugal 2.7-litre TDCi V6 diesel adds $3250 to the price, while all-wheel drive represents a $5000 premium over the standard RWD models.

A third row bringing seating capacity to seven is standard on TS and Titanium but adds $2500 to the price if optioned with the base TX. Other options available on all three variants include prestige paint for $385 and a tow pack for $550.

As with the heavily revised Falcon that joins the Territory in showrooms from December 1, the Territory will feature Ford’s Sync2 connectivity system that includes an eight-inch high-resolution colour touchscreen, voice control featuring the voice of Australian English speaking ‘Karen’, DAB+ digital radio, Emergency Assistance and front as well as rear parking sensors as standard.

Sync2’s voice control system can respond to commands to alter the climate control, simply by using words such as ‘warmer’ after pressing the voice button, as well as changing the music you are listening to.

As part of the audio system, the Territory has two USB ports, an SD card slot, an auxiliary jack, and if listening to music on a compatible smartphone or MP3 player, the cover art will be displayed on the touchscreen.

Under the bonnet of the Territory is either the 195kW/391Nm 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol or 140kW/440Nm 2.7-litre diesel, both matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford has made some minor fuel efficiency gains for the petrol-powered Territory variants, with the TX now using 10.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, down from 10.6L/100km, while TS versions benefit from a slight improvement from 10.6L/100km to 10.5L/100km.

The improvements mirror those made with Falcon, the new lightweight ZF transmission helping out, while economy with the diesel Territorys remains the same as the previous equivalent model.

The figures for the oil-burners range from 8.2L/100km for the base TX in 2WD guise and rise to 9.0L/100km for the AWD Titanium.

The Territory proved something of a hit for Ford in Australia when it arrived in 2004 and sales have fluctuated since, but they did return to more than respectable levels following the release of the major facelift, dubbed SZ in April 2011.

While not achieving the sales levels that saw it occasionally appear in the top 10 best-selling cars in Australia, the Territory is managing respectable numbers for a vehicle of its age.

So far this year Ford has sold 8366 units to the end of October, placing it fifth in the sub-$70,000 large SUV segment behind the top-selling Jeep Grand Cherokee (14,297), Toyota Prado (13,615), Toyota Kluger (8999) and Holden’s ageing Captiva 7 (8847).

It is the third best-selling vehicle in the Blue Oval’s arsenal this year, trailing the now top-selling Ranger ute on 22,593 and the Focus small car on 13,027.

Ford Territory pricing*

TX RWD petrol $36,990
TX RWD diesel $40,240
TX AWD diesel $45,240
TS RWD petrol $41,740
TS RWD diesel $44,990
TS AWD diesel $49,990
Titanium RWD petrol $48,490
Titanium RWD diesel $51,740
Titanium AWD diesel $56,740

*Excludes on-road costs.

Originally Published by TIM NICHOLSON at GoAuto.com.au

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