Ford tries making an edgier Edge
By Jim Bray
Ford's supposedly mid-sized SUV/Crossover has been redone for the 2015 model year, but fans of the old Edge won't find themselves left out in the cold by the redesign. The question is whether people who hadn't fallen for the Edge already will notice the differences.
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By writing that, I don't mean to damn the Edge with faint praise, because it's a decent vehicle. But I wonder if it's enough to stand out in a very crowded market niche - and I guess only time will tell. The new Edge, like the old one, is modern and handsome, if a tad bland, and if Ford has corrected the electrical gremlins that plagued the last Edge I drove (and there was no sign of them during my review) it should serve its customers well.
Ford of Canada's sample Edge was the all-wheel drive Titanium trim level, the nearly top line level (there's a Sport model above it) that includes about as many toys and comforts as you could want. It's actually more than I need (I just like automatic headlights, Bluetooth, backup camera and a good audio system to keep me happy - though I wouldn't turn down stuff like power seats with memory and automatic climate control), especially considering the new generation of nannies (adaptive cruise, lane departure, etc.) that drive me absolutely nuts. This isn't a complaint about Ford, however; it's a market thing.
Anyway, the manufacturer says the new Edge "is loaded with more technology, higher levels of craftsmanship and greatly improved vehicle dynamics" than before, and claims the 2015 Edge is "a better vehicle by every measure." I would hope so, otherwise what would be the point? Not that the previous Edge was a slouch, but when you're fighting head to head with such vehicles as the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Honda Pilot, and others - you need to keep raising your own bar.
One way for Ford to do this is to offer an EcoBoost engine, for its combination of power and fuel economy, but Ford chose to put the two litre, four cylinder version into the sample Edge and, while it's fine in smaller and lighter vehicles, I don't think it's the best match here. The small EcoBoost is no slouch, but in this application I found it merely adequate when heading toward the hills and valleys of the Rocky Mountains, one of my preferred test areas. I'd have loved to try an Edge with the V6 EcoBoost, which is a peach, but 'twas not to be.
The little EcoBoost puts out 245 horses and 275 torquey things, which would be fine if this were an Escape. Fortunately, there are other engine choices, including the bigger EcoBoost: a 2.7 litre V6 that cranks out a very nice 315/350 hp/torque that would surely be more than adequate. The other engine choice, by the way, is a 3.5 litre normally aspirated V6 but its 280/250 hp/torque is dwarfed by the V6 EcoBoost, whose only disadvantage (to me, anyway), is a bit of turbo lag.
All engines are mated to a six speed automatic transmission that works well and comes with paddles for manual shifting.
The 2015 Edge sports new exterior styling, but it isn't a radical change and is recognizable as an Edge, though I thought its buttocks looked a tad reminiscent of the Lexus RX 350. The Edge is now based on Ford's mid-sized global platform, the same as used by the Fusion and other Ford models. Its structure is more rigid than before, and there's a retuned suspension front and rear. Ford says the new vehicle has been tuned to deliver "a more dynamic, engaging ride customers will feel immediately." The company also says the new model is 26 per cent stiffer when reacting to bending forces (not bends in the road, though) and a 16 per cent increase in stiffness reacting to twisting forces, for those who like doing 1960's fad dances while driving. Ford says the changes mean there's less noise, vibration and harshness, resulting a "quieter, more substantial ride." Substantial it is, indeed.
Inside, the Edge looks pretty much like the rest of Ford's current lineup, and that's not a bad thing. The Platinum-spec seats are trimmed with perforated leather (from cows harvested via shotgun, I guess), have power adjustment and are quite comfortable and supportive. Rear seats are okay for three, though if you plan to include a child's seat in the mix it may get a tad tight back there.
Ford's sample included a few grand worth of extras, such as a heated steering wheel, front seat heating/cooling, rear seat heating, a front 180 degree camera (with a washer!), a damn lane keeping system you can, fortunately, shut off, a 12 speaker Sony audio system that's okay if you aren't an audio snob, and that nifty foot-activated hands free power lift gate. Well, it's usually nifty, but I just couldn't get it to work and therefore ended up merely looking silly, standing there with my arms full and my foot waving ineffectively under the rear bumper.
Other so-called safety features include a blind spot monitoring system, cross traffic alert (this one's okay, but far too sensitive because - like other such systems I've tried - it freaks out far too early) and Ford's newest generation of its active park assist. The "old" system would parallel park your car and in my experience it works pretty well, but the new system builds on that by offering, supposedly, a way to guide the Edge into a perpendicular parking space (I think they mean angle parking rather than perpendicular to the ground).
I tried this angle parking feature a couple of times and couldn't get it to work. Operator error, perhaps, since the parallel parking system does work, but after a couple of attempts I got bored and just plowed into other vehicles like I do usually.
The front seats are fine, but I couldn't find a completely comfortable driving position, and put it down to the impression I got that the Edge is designed as a vehicle for people larger than I (the vast majority of the population, alas). By the time I had the pedals close enough for my stubby little legs, I was too close to the steering wheel unless I reclined the driver's seat to an angle at which I couldn't see outside past the B pillar. This was despite the Edge coming with a tilt/telescoping steering column.
It was a pretty minor issue overall but I feel obliged to mention it - and if I were looking for an Edge to purchase it wouldn't be a deal breaker.
Ford's sample also had a remote starting feature, which would be a really nice thing to have on very cold or very hot days. The inflatable rear shoulder belts (for passengers with inflatable rears) earned scorn from my rear seat passengers, as they found them uncomfortable and difficult to snap into their receptacles.
The MyFord Touch and Sync systems are improved over earlier versions, but the cascading menus you access from the steering wheel still take your attention off the road too much; better to try the voice activation system, which is pretty good when you compare it with some other manufacturers'.
Ford Edges start at a reasonable $29,639 for the base front wheel drive version and climb the cash register tape up to $40,747 for the Sport. Ford's sample Titanium version started at $41,199 and with options and other pounds of flesh came in at $50,489 - and that doesn't include sales taxes. That's getting up there as far as money is concerned, but at least you can be assured that you're getting a comfortable and modern vehicle with that investment.
Copyright 2015 Jim Bray
Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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