Cars > Encounter

The Ford Territory is a nice ride for going out of town

What makes this such a popular car?

All the Territory units were lined up at Capitol Commons. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

While Ford is best known in the country for the Ranger and the Everest, the Territory is also one of the brand’s top sellers. This got me curious. Not only is it a crossover, which wasn’t the most exciting kind of vehicle to my taste, but there were also doubts over the Territory’s identity with the previous model being a rebadged Chinese car. However, after trying out the current one during an out-of-town drive, I understand now the reason behind its popularity.

Trunk space was adequate for a folding bike and overnight luggage. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Automakers really need to steer clear of piano-black trim. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Legroom was ample in the second row. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Not long after driving out, the rear-traffic alert started doing its thing. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The route was essentially a loop around Laguna de Bay. It started at Capitol Commons in Pasig, and passed through Marilaque Highway with a stop at Pagsanjan for lunch. From there, the group went to Anya Estate in Tagaytay for an overnight stay before driving back to Metro Manila via CALAX and SLEX. This gave us a good mix of driving scenarios to get a feel for the car.

The Territory handled the different road conditions well. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The first thing I appreciated about the Territory was its spacious cabin. At 4,630mm long, 1,935mm wide, and 1,706mm high, the vehicle is a compact crossover with a more manageable size compared to the Everest. Thanks to the 2,726mm wheelbase, I could move the seat back, recline it, and still leave enough space for whoever was behind me.

Getting behind the wheel, the first thing I noticed was the seamless integration of the digital instrument cluster and the 12-inch infotainment system. On the piano-black center console are two knobs, one for shifting and the other for volume control.

I’m glad that the air-conditioning controls aren’t buried in the infotainment screen, but I wish the touchpads were replaced by physical buttons for a more tactile experience. The same could be said about the driving-mode selector, which requires the user to swipe right on the touchscreen—not good when on the move.

Good luck maneuvering this without the 360° camera. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

In spite of looking like an SUV, the Territory doesn’t feel like one thanks to a lower center of gravity. Going through the twisties in Tanay, the steering was agile and responsive. And the NVH did such a good job that I didn’t notice I was already going fast.

The 1.5-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine isn’t neck-breaking with 158hp and 248Nm. But it handled the steep climb well going up to Tagaytay. With this front-wheel-drive vehicle, I was pleasantly surprised there wasn’t a loss of traction when negotiating inclined turns. However, the brakes could be smoother.

The active park assist is a neat party trick. PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Upon arriving at the resort, the organizer had two activities in store. A short but tight obstacle course was set up, and the challenge was to navigate through it using the 360° camera—without hitting any cones or reversing to make adjustments.

Being more of an old-school driver, I don’t like depending on assists like these, but this time I had no choice. The camera was surprisingly accurate, and at the end of my attempt, I ended up hitting only one cone with no reversing—probably thanks to my skill in playing video games.

Which interior do you like better? PHOTOS BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The other activity was a demo for the active park assist. Using this feature is pretty straightforward as all the driver needs to do is press a button, select the kind of action, stop near a detected parking slot, and let the car do its thing.

Seeing this for the first time, it was pretty cool with the steering wheel turning on its own. But it isn’t perfect as it requires clearly marked lines to detect a parking space. And it can still mess up or fail midway, so I wouldn’t depend on it entirely.

You wouldn't want to open the panoramic moonroof under the midday sun. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The ventilated seats help keep your back cool. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
There's only one USB port at the rear. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
These ports are hidden below the center console. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The Ford Territory is currently offered in two variants: Titanium and Titanium X. You’d have to play a bit of “spot the difference” to really distinguish between the two.

The most obvious one is that the latter has a panoramic moonroof and an interior with Urban Gray accents. The Titanium X also gets bigger 19-inch wheels, a hands-free power liftgate, and ventilated seats.

You get a lot in return for the asking price of the Ford Territory. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

With a price tag starting at P1,355,000, I now see why the Territory is a hit. It’s comfortable and spacious, decently powerful with agile handling, and tech-laden. Plus, the American heritage means Filipinos are more willing to trust the Blue Oval than Chinese brands.

I wouldn’t want to be driving this in the city—especially when alone—but the next-generation Ford Territory is a nice ride for going on out-of-town trips.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.