On the Road Review: Ford Edge Sport

Ford has given its midsize Edge a serious makeover for the second-generation model, capitalizing on the vehicle’s strengths and building on the successes from the first generation. Buyers will find more luxury, more available safety and driving features, while the stable drivability of the original is retained.

Shoppers in this class have a wide range of choices, as well as a wide range of expectations that builders must master. Entry-level models likely start at under $30,000, ($28,100 for the front-drive Edge, $46,100 shown here) while heavily trimmed luxury models can easily zoom past $50,000 or more. Ford even offers the Edge as the platform for the Lincoln MKX, so you can see the range necessary to reach across several lines of potential crossover buyers.

In context, the Edge’s size and target audience includes a range of vehicles that encompass the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano, Lexus RX350 as well as the Mercedes M-class/GLE. Creating the panache and luxury bones to reach across these lines is challenging, yet not insurmountable as automakers look to maximize sales and income as buyers continue to gravitate to crossovers of all stripes.

Our well-equipped Sport Edition Edge, one of four trims, revealed just what is needed to reach more buyers. Power, check. Luxury equipment, check. Street presence, check. The new Edge is a lot more crossover than the first-generation vehicle.

The “likes” list here is long. From first views, the new Edge has more graceful lines. LED lamps all around help with some styling cues, but the rakish roof profile at the rear is a nice departure from the Edge’s previous blocky stance. Smoother side profiles might make you think Escape, yet one step through the Sport’s large doors, with the deep wrap-around rocker panel covers that make access clean in all seasons, into large, spacious seats at the proper hip-point, lets occupants find an instant comfort level. Front and rear seating is adult-friendly, while the flat, wide cargohold is spacious.

The upgraded interior includes a revised interface with Ford’s Sync My/Ford Touch system, adding strategic knobs and toggle buttons for much simpler frequent changes in the Sony audio system (less distracting and annoying too) while a plethora of center panel buttons handle other functions like heated and cooled front seats. It would be good to have more contrast here — all of the buttons are black in a large field of black plastic — yet the presentation exceeds previous efforts. Cabin noise levels are reduced, while cabin audio levels are enhanced.

Push-button ignition is included. So is remote starting, leather trimmed seating with memory, rear privacy glass, multiple power-ports, reverse sensing system, plus a new back-up camera. Ford also uses Sirius satellite radio — the better of the two space-based radio networks — for uninterrupted reception wherever you drive. Power windows are one-touch down/up in the front, the rear seatback splits to fold, and the power liftgate works swiftly.

New features include a front 180-degree camera, which helps with all parking maneuvers whether you use Ford’s parking assist (hands-free, Ma!) or not, heated rear seats, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, plus improved navigation system with voice-activation. Overhead, a panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light.

So far, a buyer might be thinking that this crossover is every bit as nice as a Lexus — without the price premium. Ford’s marketers are thinking the same thing — hence the MKX model from Lincoln.

Sport trim also brings the best, and most powerful, engine available in the Edge. The Ecoboost 2.7-liter V-6 that is also used in the F-150 pickup shares space under the Edge’s hood. Making 315 hp here (335 hp in the MKX), the Ecoboost delivers impressive power in all driving situations. Press the Edge for a backroad pass; no problem, the Sport accelerates with ease and rushes past whatever obstacle you wish to overtake. Highway cruising is smooth and relaxed, the turbo-engine maintaining elevated paces without breaking a sweat.

Ford is betting heavily on Ecoboost engines for power and economy — in many of its vehicle lines. EPA estimates for the Edge Sport with AWD and standard six-speed automatic transmission are 17/24/20 mpg. My best trip-computer number was 28.5 mpg, while actual fuel economy ranged from 22 mpg to 25.5 mpg.

Jumping from a svelte VW R into the Edge led to some conflicts about handling and ride compliance — unfair performance comparisons between two totally opposite vehicles. By the end of our time together, it was easier to reconcile the Edge’s mission, as well as its performance down the road. The 20-inch wheels and tires look nice, but ride compliance is less than with smaller wheels over other than perfect pavement — a trait of many such applications. Handling, AWD traction and general stability were excellent throughout the Edge’s visit.

Each day brought more revelations about the Edge’s performance and general comfort. Plying the narrow roads of coastal Maine, the Ford exhibited sound road manners and nimble responses in tight situations. The vehicle’s size fits well in traffic, the parking cameras make this activity less stressful in small spaces, plus highway travel was very relaxed in the Ford. The engine’s subtle, and impressive, performance cannot be overlooked in this package.

Ford sold 124,000-plus Edge crossovers last year, half as many as the larger Explorer and 40 percent of the level of the compact Escape. In its midsize category (including the luxury class), the Edge is the second best selling crossover, trailing only the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The changes to the cabin comfort levels, the upgraded Sync system, plus the new features all enhance the Ford’s overall competence and make this Edge a vastly more relevant competitor in this class.

Tim Plouff

Tim Plouff

Columnist at The Ellsworth American
Tim Plouff has been reviewing automobiles in the pages of The Ellsworth American weekly for nearly two decades.
Tim Plouff

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