WHEN something becomes entirely ubiquitous, itís easy to forget what the world was like before it arrived.
Families used to buy station wagons to haul kids, dogs and surfboards, but todayís soccer moms are a foot taller, at least in traffic, because they drive SUVs.
The car that changed the playing field was the Ford Territory, which launched in 2004 and went on to win that yearís Wheels COTY, the first SUV to do so.
But thatís how good the Territory was, what a leap ahead it was for this kind of vehicle. In the past, choosing an SUV meant trading more space for less driver enjoyment and involvement.
Rough ride, rattly engines and sloppy steering were the median expectations.
Yet straight out of the box, the Territory drove like a Falcon and was genuinely well designed, with an interior modeled on a Swiss army knife, according to Ford. It was also the first locally built car to have an electronic stability system.
Ford spent $500 million on bringing the Territory to market, and did a truly great job of creating a car built for Australian conditions and families (and one, importantly, that women would want to buy and drive).
Perhaps one of the Territoryís most impressive tricks, though, was its timing. It might have been seen as a risk by some, but it managed to arrive at just the right time to take advantage of the move up into SUVs by local buyers. The Territory was the right car at the tight time in the right place and at the right price.
Territory excelled with its passenger room, engines and car-like driving manners.
After next year, we wonít be making this deservedly popular car any more.