The Road Ahead : 01-Aug-2011
MAKES YOUR DAY 55 AUG/SEP 2011 THE ROAD AHEAD ROAD TEST MOTORING comfortable and surprisingly easy to drive around town. The light steering helps parking but can feel vague at times, while an all-new independent suspension delivers a firm, but comfortable, ride. Grand Cherokee also gets an all-new 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine. Its 210 kW of power and 347 Nm of torque deliver effortless performance in traffic and relaxed highway cruising with plenty in reserve for overtaking. The automatic, while only a five-speed, never got out of step over the wide range of conditions encountered during our test. FORD TERRITORY TX AWD DIESEL What you pay the extra dollars for with the TX Territory is its superb road manners, driving ease and general refinement. Mechanically, Ford has lifted the Territory to a new level. And that is not to say you are being short changed with comfort and convenience features. The TX was not as well equipped as our other two, but it had the most comfortable front seats, plenty of adjustments and Ford's familiar, easy-to-use controls. Even though TX is the base model, it gets a full complement of safety features, including a driver's knee- airbag, as well as dual-zone climate control, four-way power-adjustable driver's seat, reversing sensors, in-built USB port and an interior command centre (ICC) with a single-CD audio system which supports both iPods and bluetooth. The space and comfort that helped make the previous model a popular choice also continues. Ford's Australian engineers have done an excellent job adapting a proven European diesel, used for a number of years by Jaguar and Land Rover, into a package well-suited to our local driving conditions. The 2.7-litre Duratorq TDCi (turbo-charged, diesel, common-rail injection) V6 engine has a good torque spread with a maximum torque of 440 Nm developed from 1900 through to 2500 rpm. This provides strong pulling power for general duties, while the appropriately geared six-speed automatic keeps it working efficiently. There is a slight turbo-lag, and so when accelerating hard the initial response doesn't feel quite as quick as the petrol engine, but once up and going it a smooth and willing performer. Even though we were unable to match the official ADR fuel consumption of 8.8 litres/100 km, our test car still returned 9.3 overall, which was respectable in the conditions, but not outstanding. While Territory has an appealing engine and transmission combination, the SZ model's superb handling and ride over all road surfaces, along with the general quietness of the vehicle, was even more impressive. Extensive suspension refinement, a new electric power steering system and major work to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) has really paid dividends. There is a newly found precision in the well-weighted steering, less body roll provides greater cornering ability and bumps are absorbed with consummate ease. Inside, most people would find it difficult to distinguish the diesel-engine sound and the all-round cabin quietness puts many luxury cars to shame. Although a winner on-road, Territory struggled in the sand. Like Captiva, there were ground clearance issues and in the loose stuff the heavier Territory tended to spin its wheels and dig in rather than pull itself through. CONCLUSION Territory diesel has been worth the wait, although it's not just the engine that makes it a winner in this comparison -- and there are provisos. The SZ's road manners and general quietness are superb, but you pay a premium price and the AWD's off-road ability was disappointing. Grand Cherokee Laredo's on-road ability isn't far behind and it's certainly superior off-road. An attractive equipment level also adds value for money. Captiva's all-round ability is not as high, but neither is its price, and for the money it does a respectable job, particularly if you have a need for the impressive third row seat. IMAGES: HOLDEN CAPTIVA 7 LX AWD.