Ford Australia says its soon-to-be-released new Territory, the only locally designed, engineered and built SUV, has undergone an exhaustive redesign including enhancements and changes to its drivetrains, structure, safety, suspension, steering, technology and level of refinement.

The new SUV also faced 500,000 miles (800,000 km) of harsh testing in some of the world's toughest locations, ranging from the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia, to the harsh Australian Outback, California's Death Valley and Arizona's deserts.

Other development locations included New Zealand, Sweden and Alaska.

The SZ Territory is part of Ford's A$230 million ($232.3 million) investment in sustainability to improve the fuel efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of its Australian-made models.

The Territory debuted Down Under in 2004 and since then has sold more than 107,000 units. Its peak sales year was 2005, when deliveries reached 23,454.

The first Territory was four years in the making, and Ford Australia says it spent A$500 million ($505.1 million) on research, design, engineering and testing to deliver an SUV Australian customers wanted.

“The success of the original-model Territory meant our development path with this new model was highly detailed and underpinned by knowing precisely what our customers wanted,” Ford Australia President and CEO Bob Graziano says in a statement. “We adopted this approach again with the development of this new model.” The Ford team again performed extensive research, ranging from customer clinics and focus groups to confidential drive programs in developing the new SUV. The auto maker even studied online chat forums to learn exactly what buyers and enthusiasts liked and did not like.

‘Ensuring this new-model Territory hits the customer sweet-spot means knowing precisely what local buyers want,” Graziano says.

Apart from the plan to fit its Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel technology to the Territory, Ford Australia's designers and engineers set tough new goals for improving the new model.

These included enhancing the performance and efficiency of its proven I-6 engine, improving refinement, increasing crash safety and crafting a contemporary new look that aligns with the signature styles of other Ford products.

“The Territory appeals to the SUV customer heartland of Australia; it's a car designed and engineered in Australia for local customers and conditions,” Graziano says.

Headlining the new Territory's drivetrain enhancements is the introduction of a 2.7L TDCi turbodiesel V-6 engine, available in both rear- and all-wheel drive.

It has a maximum rating of 188 hp, peak torque of 325 lb.-ft. (440 Nm) at 1,900 rpm and a combined-cycle fuel economy of 28.7 mpg (8.2 L/100 km) for RWD models.

The new TDCi-powered Territory achieves fuel economy of 36.2 mpg (6.5 L/100 km) in highway driving.

Ford Australia engineers made several improvements to the TDCi engine’s fuel system, engine oil sump, induction system and transfer case in AWD models.

The Territory's 4.0L I-6 gasoline engine has been massaged to provide more power and torque but lower fuel consumption. This power unit currently only is available with RWD.

The gasoline Territory develops a maximum 261 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 6.7 hp with peak torque of 288 lb.-ft. (391 Nm) at 3,250 rpm, an increase of 5.9 lb.-ft. (8 Nm).

Ford says the improvements are the result of using FG Falcon-level I-6 engine technology in the new Territory. This means the new SUV benefits from the FG's fast-burn cylinder head design, new lightweight dual-resonance intake manifold, new electronic throttle body and new fuel rail system.

Enhancements to the gasoline I-6 engine in the new Territory have resulted in fuel consumption reductions. The new model now achieves 22 mpg (10.6 L/100 km), up from 20 mpg (11.8 L/100 km) in the previous Territory.

Calibration work for both the I-6 and all-new TDCi V-6 engines was done in Australia for local conditions.

The Territory range comes fitted with 6-speed automatic transmissions across both AWD and RWD models.

New Territory models powered by the improved 6-cyl. gasoline engine are partnered with the ZF 6HP26 6-speed automatic transmission. All TDCi turbodiesel models will be fitted with Ford's ZF-based 6R80 gearbox.

Safety features include an advanced Bosch-developed Generation 9 Dynamic Stability Control system fitted with Roll Over Mitigation; a traction control system; antilock braking system; new front crash structure; and new driver's-side knee airbag, a first for the Territory.

The driver's-side knee airbag will be standard across the Territory range, bringing the new model's airbag count to five.