First drive: 2016 Ford Edge in Jordan
One hundred years ago, before the independent country of Jordan was created, a certain British military officer called T.E. Lawrence led an army of the Arab Revolt on a grueling, two-month march through the desert that was believed to be impassable, and captured the Red Sea town of Aqaba on the other side. Immortalised in a 1962 movie, he was better known as Lawrence of Arabia, and because there’s footage of him piloting a Ford Model T in Wadi Rum, Ford invited us to Jordan to retrace Lawrence’s march in the comfort of modern Ford SUVs. The connection isn’t particularly tenuous, as Ford apparently did provide 40,000 Model T military vehicles during World War I, but we believe the actual desert march was completed only with horses and camels.
If you’d like to know more about the historical march, Wikipedia is your friend, but suffice it to say, we had to drive a convoy of Ford SUVs, including the Expedition, the Ranger, the F-150, the Explorer and the all-new Edge, from the Kempinski resort by the Dead Sea to the Kempinski resort by the Red Sea in Aqaba, via the paved roads of Tafileh village and the offroad terrain of Wadi Rum, passing by the Seven Pillars mountain and a WWI train-robbery re-enactment on the way. Finishing the course in 7 hours, with a lot of stops in between, it goes to show how far we have come as a civilisation, when a 2-month journey can be condensed into a leisurely air-conditioned single-day drive that can be completed before sundown.
Since we’ve reviewed the other models, the most interesting vehicle at the event was the all-new 2016 Ford Edge. Available with three different engines, the one we got to drive was the mid-range model with the 280 hp 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6.
Styling-wise, the new Edge looks good for what it is, essentially an evolution of previous designs. It’s not going to set pulses racing, but there are unique design elements such as the LED lighting on the front bumper as well as the LED strip-lighting at the rear.
Inside, Ford has fixed almost every issue that plagued the previous Edge generations. The upper dash and all upper door surfaces are padded with soft-touch materials, with cushy armrests and attractive leather upholstery in Titanium trim. The SYNC touchscreen is now capacitive, making it more responsive to use. The daft touch buttons on the centre-console have been replaced with proper physical buttons. And the window sills have seemingly been lowered, so it doesn’t feel like sitting in a bathtub any more. There’s great space both front and back in this five-seater, with a generous boot as well. And there’s tons of other tech, including a panoramic glass roof, hands-free electric tailgate operation, cooled front seats and rear inflatable seatbelts.
The Edge drives well too. While it’s no rocket with the V6, the engine provides linear and predictable power, although the economy-minded 6-speed auto gearbox can be too conservative with the downshifts when going up hilly roads, requiring regular use of the sport mode as well as the manual paddle-shifters.
With noise-cancellation tech, the engine is very quiet even when on the boil. The ride is generally smooth with a hint of firmness, so mild jitters could always be felt on the rough roads of Jordan’s city outskirts.
Handling is very good, as we’ve come to expect from most recent Fords. The steering is direct, well-weighted and even offers feedback, simulated or otherwise. The brake pedal is also well-weighted and responsive, making it easy to dial in just the right amount of stopping power. And while we never took any corners particularly quick in our police-escorted convoy drive, whatever moderate-speed turns we took were handled with minimal body roll and confident grip.
We did not get the chance to drive the all-wheel-drive Edge offroad, but we did follow it into the rough terrain of Wadi Rum in a Ranger Wildtrak, and the crossover handled itself fairly well on rough gravel and soft sand, although an inexperienced driver did manage to beach himself on a small dune. The lack of low-range gearing meant it had to be dug out and pushed, but if you know what you’re doing, the Edge can go pretty far in the desert.
In our short time with the Ford Edge, the “lifestyle” crossover did seem to be a rather premium offering for a vehicle that competes in an affordable price bracket. If third-row seating and extreme offroad abilities aren’t absolutely necessary, the Edge is all the vehicle you will ever need.
For detailed prices and specs, visit the Ford Edge buyer guide.
Photos by Ford Middle East.