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In safe hands with Ford's Territory

On your bike: Bicycle carrier will be a $325 option on Territory.

Ford’s new cross-over wagon is claimed to be a four-star safety performer

17 Mar 2004

FORD Australia has claimed its Territory will be one of the safest vehicles on our roads, bettering most other four-wheel drive wagons and even its own BA Falcon when it goes on sale from June 1.

Notwithstanding the fact Territory has a higher centre of gravity than the Falcon sedan and wagon, Ford Australia’s safety engineering manager, Bruce Priddle, insisted the vehicle did not pose a greater risk for rollover crashes.

He also expected the Territory to achieve an independent crash test rating from the Australian New Car Assessment Program of at least four stars out of five. Falcon scored four stars last year.

"It’s as safe as Falcon – and you could argue that each time we do something we do it a little better," Mr Priddle said.

"I wouldn’t say it’s got a higher risk of rollover at all. We set out to design this to handle like a passenger car."Mr Priddle said the Territory’s roof was built to withstand the weight of the vehicle but admitted that no rollover testing had been conducted – an admission which seems incredible when independent research has shown all-terrain wagons are about four times more likely to roll over in a crash compared to passenger cars.

"We haven’t done any actual rollover protection (tests) as such," he said.

"The centre of gravity is much lower than a traditional four-wheel drive, the track has been widened and its got dynamic stability control on all-wheel drive models, so the whole approach there is to give us the sort of handling that is much more like a car."Electronic stability control is to be fitted on models with four-wheel drive, but it will not be available on two-wheel drive variants.

"The rationale with that is that people with all-wheel drive are more likely to be in slipperier conditions and therefore more likely to get into a wheel-spinning circumstance," Mr Priddle said.

27 center imageThe Territory is built on a car-like monocoque chassis, has independent suspension front and rear and its structure now benefits from different gauges and properties of steel (to better spread energy in a crash). Anti-lock brakes and traction control will be fitted standard across the range.

All models will have dual-stage front airbags and, on TS and Ghia, a head-protecting side curtain airbag for the first and second rows. The curtain airbag, which runs along both window lines, will be optional on the base model TX. Seat-mounted side airbags such as those used in Falcon will be unavailable on Territory.

The front seatbelts have pretensioners, front and rear window-seat occupants have sash height adjusters, all passengers have three-point seatbelts and head restraints, and child seat anchorage points are ideally located behind the seatback in the centre row.

The driver’s position has a seatbelt reminder, all seats meet an international Ford standard designed to minimise injuries from a rear-end shunt and the second row bench is shaped to suit child restraints.

But more could be done.

For example, unlike some other vehicles there are none of the following: automatic belt locking retractors which better secure child restraints anti-whiplash headrests multiple fixing points for rear headrests when in use seatbelt pretensioners in the second or third row and airbag protection for the third row.

The latter was considered but deemed to compromise curtain airbag performance in the front two rows.

Pedestrian protection measures undertaken include building in clearance between the bonnet and engine “wherever possible” and making the bumpers less dangerous. A plastic bullbar with steel reinforcement is being tested before release later in the year.

To date, Ford Australia has conducted about 3500 crash simulations and 50 actual prototype crash tests with the Territory.

Territory accessories – next page

Chock full of extras

WATERPROOF seat covers made from wetsuit material ($100), a 15-litre fridge ($175), an integrated DVD unit with drop-down screen ($3285) and roof bars designed with special carriers for canoes ($295), bikes ($325), skis ($250-$295) and luggage boxes ($995-$1395) are the highlights of Ford’s Territory accessories list released last week.

There’s more. Much more. But for those thinking about additional costs involved with towing, trekking, dressing orbetter securing the vehicle, here are some details.

Towpack $485
Cruise control $595
Sump guard $195
Parking sensors $495
Alarm $620
Cargo shelf $300
Cargo barrier $575
Cargo floor liner $160
Foglamps $250
Bodykit $1195
17-inch alloy wheels $1380

Ford ponders safety direction for new Falcon

OTHER than improving structural aspects of the next generation Falcon, Ford Australia engineers are now discussing where toconcentrate their efforts on safety.

"We can continue to evolve the structure but it’s one of the things we’re scratching our head about now. Just what more can we do?" said Ford Australia’s safety engineering manager Bruce Priddle.

"There are new restraints emerging and we’re looking at those, different airbag technologies and different sensing systems – all those sorts of things are under consideration.

"But the area that I think has the greatest (potential) movingforward is on systems that actively prevent accidents. Things like active speed controls systems, where you might have a satellite map of speed zones and some sort of feedback system (such as accelerator pressure) in your car saying, ‘Hey, you’re outside the speed limit’."As for Falcon’s much-vaunted power-adjustable pedals, Mr Priddle said research had not, to his knowledge, been undertaken to see whether customers were in fact using the feature. He agreed that automatic pedal adjustment linked to other personal settings such as seat and steering wheel position was worth investigation.

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