– Interesting styling
– Extremely quiet ride
– Good on-road grip
– Hard cabin plastics all over
– Car-like headroom in a 4WD
– No low-range gearing
Ford has been peddling utilitarian 4WD vehicles for decades. Even their softest 4WD offerings had a truck-like quality to them. And then the Japanese upped the ante even further with risqué vehicles like the popular Nissan Murano and the redesigned Lexus RX 350. It is a given that Ford could not continue competing in the midsize segment with the bulky Explorer when crossovers are starting to dominate as the lifestyle vehicle of choice nowadays. And therefore they now have the all-new Edge.
Ford gave us the all-wheel-drive Edge for what we believed to be a two-day test. At the last minute we figured out that we were actually getting it for only 24 hours. Since it would be rude to back out by then, we took it for this short stint, but we’ll admit up front that we might have failed to notice specific things that we usually observe in our longer test drives.
What we did notice is that the Edge is an attractive enough vehicle. With big rims, horizontal chrome grille, colourless tail-lights and a chopped top, it goes for a look that could appeal to both conservatives and hipsters alike. The three-bar grille, as also seen on the Expedition, was Ford’s attempt at a new corporate identity, but that just makes the Edge look even more disconnected from the rest of Ford’s GCC line-up.
Our mid-range Edge SEL came with an airy beige interior that looked pleasant enough. Access to the cabin is granted by either a simple keyless entry system or, unique to Ford for years, a keypad on the door handle to be used to enter your date-of-birth or something. As we prepared to drive off for the first time, the driving position felt too low for a 4WD. So we started playing with the seat adjustments, of which only the seat bottom was powered in our tester, and raised the seat to a level befitting a 4WD. And then we looked up and realised we had only an inch of headroom left. Truth be told, legroom is very good for all passengers in the five-seater Edge, but the chopped headroom means six-footers might feel a bit compacted.
Finally driving off, we perversely started feeling all over to judge material quality. The seats have almost no side-bolstering, but are nicely stitched in faux leather. All armrests are thoughtfully padded, but the rest of the cabin is hard plastic, textured to only look leathery. The plastic does look good in quality and feel solid, but there are sizeable panel gaps all over the dashboard, probably by design for easier assembly at the factory. There are two exposed cup-holders at the front, two fancy hidden ones in the rear, and at least two front bottle-holders that we could remember, along with useful centre console storage and a sizeable luggage trunk. The split rear seats also have a cool feature whereby they fold flat at the touch of a button to increase the loading area.
As we continued driving, we realised we were starting to get uncomfortable in the summer heat, even with the automatic a/c at full blast. We never put any a/c at full blast, but in this case we had to, because the stylised vents were placed in such a way that the steering wheel blocked the airflow to the driver. And with all that windshield glass area, it takes ages to cool the cabin. The rear passengers aren’t forgotten though, with rear a/c vents in the centre console sending air to the back. Other features include power windows, electric mirrors, a bunch of airbags, and a CD/MP3 stereo with in-dash changer that sounded average at best. The steering wheel is packed with buttons for the a/c, cruise control and stereo. The most awesome feature by far is the optional panoramic glass roof, as equipped in our tester, which turns the car into a cool greenhouse in the evening and a hot oven in the afternoon.
The engine is a strong piece, making 265 hp at 6250 rpm and 339 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm from a 3.5-litre V6. The Edge is usefully quick, but not downright energetic, as we managed a 0-100 kph time of 8.9 seconds after three tries. Turning off traction control makes no difference. While probably quicker in the winter, we don’t think cooler weather would help fuel economy much. At 15.7 litres per 100 km, with a lot of highway driving involved, the Edge burns as much petrol as a V8-powered full-size car, but less than the V6-powered Explorer. The smooth six-speed automatic is excellent at smoothening out shifts and choosing gears, although there is no tiptronic function.
Casual driving is easy enough. But taking turns is hindered by thick A-pillars, while backing up requires trust on the beeping parking sensors since the rear window is tiny. The mirrors work well enough when changing lanes on the highway. The highway ride is very quiet and fairly smooth, with wind noise reduced to a minor hush. Engine noise is muffled very well too, which seems to be a Ford specialty. It only feels floaty when going over large dips on the road surface, but due to limited suspension travel, the car body never flies up and down too much like with many other 4WDs.
Driving the Edge somewhat aggressively on public roads, we never did reach the limits of the wide tyres. We forgot to check the size of the tyres wrapping the large mirror-finish rims, but they did well to keep the car in play without squealing, no doubt helped along by the all-wheel-drive system. But body roll was more than what we expected for a vehicle attempting to be more sporting than a barebones Explorer. The power steering has almost no feedback, although an artificial firmness was present. And the ABS-assisted brakes felt slightly spongy, but did the job well under duress.
Ford told us not to take the Edge off-road, but we would’ve tried some mild sand if we had the time. Ford themselves did take one of these deep into the desert during one of their media events, but given that on one occasion we powered through sand with a Focus hatchback, that doesn’t really say much. When a vehicle finally gets stuck in the sand, the lack of low-range gearing suddenly becomes apparent.
The new Ford Edge is a great cruiser, doing nothing wrong at all in terms of what the market wants. Space, style and comfort are paramount, and the Edge delivers. Power, fuel economy and safety are also concerns, and the Edge is better than average on those counts too. While it does match the competition easily enough, we couldn’t find anything that makes it better than the competition. The fancy roof was cool, but driving an Edge won’t be a lasting memory.
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