As vehicle models continue to evolve, the baby-boom segment — historically staunch, long-time SUV and minivan owners — are beginning to look for something easier to get in and out of that also rides with a bit more civility. In addition, the “empty-nest” syndrome is setting in, and the kid’s pile of sports equipment is being replaced by a long weekend’s luggage.
Ford has entered this growing crossover-utility vehicle (CUV) fray by introducing the Edge, which it believes is the answer for SUV owners migrating to smaller, more maneuverable and fuel-friendly mid-size rides.
Taking a look at the exterior, the Edge’s wheels are punched out to the corners hidden under stylish fender bulges, creating an abbreviated front and rear overhang, and giving it an eye-catching stance. The Edge maintains Ford’s family ties with the familiar large blue oval anchored in the center of the chrome horizontal three-bar grille. The large wheel wells, ride height and high beltline will remind owners of their SUVs, yet the raked windshield, panoramic glass roof, color-matched rear roof spoiler and sharply sloped rear glass announce a new driving proposition.
Sliding into the Edge’s interior, you are faced with a modern hooded dash containing expected instrumentation that’s nicely presented with white-face gauges. A large dash pillar houses the stacked navigation and radio display above the easy-to-use controls — all flanked by large vertical vents. The dash-pillar insert extends to the front of the cavernous center console, providing additional storage and the requisite java holders next to the stubby shifter. Ford claims the reconfigurable console will hold a small laptop, and provides thoughtfully placed 12-volt DC power receptacles and slots to direct the wiring from personal music devices past the armrest-equipped lid when closed. Additional power receptacles are within easy reach of the front-seat passengers for other power needs, as is a segment-first MP3 player jack.
Leather seating with contrasting stitching is available with heated six-way power, and includes a slick, mechanical-ratcheting lumbar support for fine-tuning comfort. An optional fold-down front passenger seat allows a full 8 feet of cabin-storage length. Rear seating includes a fold-down armrest with flip-open cup holders, and features a recline position for naps or better viewing of the optional forward headrest-mounted DVD entertainment system.
Whether seated front or back, the Edge’s signature feature has to be the nearly full-length panoramic glass roof that undoubtedly will become the must-have option. A fixed, tinted panel is positioned above the second row with the large forward section that lifts and glides over it. A spring-loaded cloth wind buffer extends around the leading edge of the Vista Roof, almost completely buffering wind noise at freeway speeds. Dual powered sunshades revert the Edge’s interior back to a hardtop-like environ if needed.
The Edge comes equipped with a complete list of standard safety features with no need to access the option list, a move Ford will be making soon across all models. Ford has added side air bags and the Safety Canopy in the Edge that integrates rollover sensors.
Under the hood, the Edge’s new 3.4-liter V-6 pumps out 265 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque to motivate its nearly 4,300-pound curb weight in 2WD or optional AWD. Rated to tow 3,500 pounds, it’s ideally suited to tow many lightweight pop-up trailers. Despite weighing in at more than 2 tons, mid-20s fuel mileage is claimed due in part to the efficiency of its six-speed automatic transmission that shifts as smoothly and seamlessly as anything we have ever driven. This transmission design also allows the Edge to be flat-towed, making it a highly desirable dinghy candidate for motorhome owners.
If you’re looking for a road burner capable of straightening turns at enthusiastic speeds, you might be disappointed. Equipped with Ford’s AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC), two gyroscopic sensors monitor yaw and roll motion. When we pushed too fast into tight and off-camber turns, the system independently reduced throttle and/or added braking to a specific wheel to quickly settle the Edge back on course.
Combining the AdvanceTrac and RSC with the four-link independent suspension, seamless shifting and AWD created a quiet and responsive ride that handled every bump and pothole we could find. Whether on twisting and broken two-lane country roads or the lock-to-lock twists of Lombard Street in San Francisco, the Edge handled everything we could throw at it while giving us a great view of the city in the process.
Ford has created a boldly styled, fun-to-drive, feature-rich, five-seat CUV that should do well in the segment. The Edge provides the best of both worlds in that it’s a very capable driver with features that will carry you and your 70 cubic feet of cargo to remote destinations with ease and in luxury.