According to popular American folklore, you should always buy the biggest engine available. Such thinking likely became prevalent in the 1950s, when the American automotive industry was busy building new V8 engines, experimenting with multiple carburetors and high compression, and generally discovering the art of hot-rodding. Gas prices? Fuel economy? Pfft. It was a great time to be an American.
These days, life isn't quite so simple. There are countless reasons to consider a downsized powerplant. First off, we all care about fuel mileage and many of us care about emissions. Then there's the cost consideration, and, finally, the biggest engine isn't always the best performer. Proof of such can be seen in the new 2011 Ford Edge, that we just drove ourselves and that was recently put through the full testing regime by the boys at Motor Trend.
There are currently two V6 engines available in the Edge (a 2.0-liter EcoBoost is on the way in a few months), a 3.5-liter and a 3.7, which comes straight from the Mustang. Power for the smaller engine comes in at 280 horses and 253 pound-feet of torque. The larger 3.7 puts out 305 horses and 280 lb-ft and is available only in the Edge Sport. So, the Sport is the fastest, right?
Not so fast... literally. MT clocked a 7.1-second run to 60 in the base Edge, but only managed a disappointing 7.6 seconds in the 3.7-powered Edge Sport. Apparently, the problem is weight. The base Edge tipped MT's scales at 4075 pounds while the Sport came in at an obese 4405, part of which can be explained by the addition of all-wheel drive. In any case, the Edge Sport, with its massive 22-inch wheels and wide tires, can't keep up with the base Edge in a straight line.
On the flip side, the AWD Edge Sport (with those aforementioned oversize wheels and tires) handily out-handled its base model sibling. In other words, this is a case where you need to pick your poison, either handling or straight-line acceleration. And of course the upcoming EcoBoost will add another interesting option to consider in a few short months.