2011 Ford Edge Expert Review:Autoblog
If you checked Ford's bloodstream right now, you'd probably find trace amounts of Ritalin floating along with the 5w-30. The company is an absolute blur of product development – churning out new models (Fiesta), entirely reworking staples (Focus) and honing beloved and established products (Mustang), into cars that can swing well above their intended weight class. The Blue Oval isn't sitting around waiting for the competition to guilt it into making its vehicles better. Instead, the company is constantly improving what needs attention, even in the case of the Edge – a crossover that's had no problem establishing itself as a market force to be reckoned with.
Just recently, Ford announced that 400,000 Edge crossovers have found homes in the U.S. since late 2006, making it king of the high-riding crowd in the process. Ford credits much of that success on the Edge's styling, which the rest of this crowd just can't seem to match. There's no mistaking this five-door with anything in its segment (MKX aside), and that won't change anytime soon. For 2011, Ford has given the Edge a detailed once-over, plopped a few new engine options under the hood and given the interior the kind of remake that doesn't typically pop up mid-cycle. If the rest of the segment was hoping to catch up, it can keep dreaming.
Photos Copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL
When we say that styling is as important to the Edge DNA as the wheels the crossover rolls on, we aren't exaggerating. Ford's researchers say the number one reason buyers choose the vehicle over its competitors is not because of its efficient V6 or the impressive onboard tech. Nope. The number one reason buyers take home an Edge is because of its duds. And who can blame them? The crossover segment is a mire of vapid design that's more likely to induce rigor mortis than to tickle your pulse. If you absolutely have to drive something that can fit the family and gives a commanding driving position, why not go with a vehicle that stands out from the rest of the mall crowd?
For 2011, the Edge comes equipped with a completely re-sculpted front fascia with a chrome front grille that's grown by a few magnitudes. New LED running lights decorate the lower realms of the bumper and body-color side view mirrors now find their way to the CUV's sides. Speaking of sides, the Blue Oval is now offering a total of four new wheel options, starting with 18– and 20-inch rollers that are half an inch wider than the outgoing pieces. Buyers keen on shelling out the cash for the top of the line Sport trim are rewarded with epic 22-inch forged aluminum wheels that are as sharp as they are absurd. We love the way they look, but buying tires for those drums could necessitate a second or fourth mortgage.
Our tester came rolling on those fancy, split five-spoke wheels and carried all of the rest of the Sport regalia as well. In its most aggressive trim, the Edge's massive chrome grille of the SE, SEL and Limited models gets swapped for a blacked-out piece that looks menacing no matter the finish. When the Edge wears the Tuxedo Black Metallic hue of our tester, the crossover is downright sinister. That effect is bolstered by the smoked tail lamp lenses and the wheel's matching wheels tuxedo-black accents. We get the feeling that this is the vehicle the FBI would use as standard equipment if it suddenly found a sense of style.
Otherwise, the Edge keeps the same not-quite-round profile we've come to appreciate outside. The story is completely different once you open the driver's door, though. Whereas the 2010 model could boast an interior that was perfectly capable of keeping its head level with the crossover waters, the 2011 version is now the same kind of beautiful found in the 2011 Mustang. The bland, blocky center stack that dominated the old dash has been banished for a new, sweeping design that features a pass-through nestled behind thin audio and climate controls. In Sport trim, those controls were designed by the minds at Sony – the same crew that penned the slick buttons on consumer electronics like the PlayStation3 and any number of massive televisions. Ford calls the control tech "touch capacitive" and there are no buttons to push or levers to slide. Simply run your finger across your choice and the electronics do the rest. It's beyond cool. While lower-rung trims don't carry the fancy Sony switchgear, they do benefit from the same touch capacitive tech. Of course, we prefer the backlit goodness of the Sport's interior, but the center stack on the SEL is just as handsome.
One of the biggest shortcomings of the interior in the 2010 Edge was the crossover's instrument cluster. While the rest of the vehicle carried itself as a futuristic, forward-looking craft, the gauges looked as though they'd been borrowed from the last century. Fortunately, when 1998 called looking for its speedometer, Ford was happy to hand it over. The company swapped in a slick unit with two small LCD screens on either side of a large, zero-down speedometer. Each screen is individually controlled by two five-way switches on the steering wheel. To the left, the driver is supplied with a range of pertinent vehicle information – average fuel economy from the past 30 minutes, over all fuel economy, traction control settings, temperature gauge and tachometer, among others – from easy-to-navigate nested menus. Very handy.
The right screen serves up a condensed version of the same information displayed on the large eight-inch touch screen on the center stack. In a stroke of genius, the screens are color coded – red for the entertainment system, green for navigation, blue for climate control and yellow for the hands-free phone system. The idea here is the less time the driver spends staring down and away from the road, the better. The screen will even show you your turn-by-turn directions, complete with distances and road names.
Ford also decided to debut the company's new MyTouch system on the 2011 Edge. The next evolutionary step in Sync, MyTouch now recognizes over 10,000 different voice commands, allowing you to control nearly everything in the cabin without your hands leaving the steering wheel. At least, that's the theory. During our short time with the system, we had a few issues getting the onboard brain to comprehend our (apparently) muddled voices. It did handle dialing a phone number with nothing more than a spoken command to guide it, which is pretty impressive. When it comes to adjusting the stereo or climate controls, however, we'll probably just stick to fiddling with the trick center stack controls.
More impressive is Ford's move to eschew the traditional DVD or hard drive-based navigation system in favor of a simple SD card set up. For under $800, you can have a complete map-based navigation system with 3D images of important landmarks and a bevy of points of interest. Of course, if you don't feel like shelling out that kind of cash, each Edge comes with Sync Services turn-by-turn navigation without the maps free for the first three years.
It's tempting to think that Ford simply slapped a new grille on the Edge and shoved a boatload of new tech into the cabin, but the company's engineers have taken the time to iron out some of the issues that reared their heads on the outgoing model. For starters, the cabin is significantly quieter, thanks in part to increased baffles mounted in areas previously empty, as well as a thicker firewall to isolate the cabin from engine noise. Under the hood, that sizable piece of plastic obscuring the engine helps to direct noise away from the occupants. Likewise, an acoustic windshield is part of the recipe for all models, and higher trims also get acoustic side glass to keep road noise at bay.
As anyone who has ever driven a 2010 Edge can tell you, the crossover didn't exactly come from the factory with confidence-inspiring brakes. Ford has taken care of that problem by building in a firmer pedal feel with less fade thanks to a new set of larger rear rotors as well as new calipers and pads. With the roads wet during the majority of our drive, we didn't get a chance to really lay on the stoppers, but the pedal was finally devoid of that warm marshmallow feel of last year's model.
With stopping sorted out, Ford turned its attention to working on the suspension to accommodate the larger wheel selections. Completely new springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars were installed to cope with the added unsprung weight, and surprisingly enough, the 2011 Edge serves up a ride that isn't rough or jarring, even with the 22-inch wheels found on the Sport.
Now for the bad news: if you were hoping to lay your grubby mitts on the new Ecoboost four-cylinder engine Ford plans to offer in the Edge, you're going to have to wait until late next year. In the meantime, the Blue Oval has upped the available engines by one. In Sport trim, the crossover now packs a 3.7-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, all while returning 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. That extra grunt helps the Sport feel a little lighter on its feet compared to its siblings, but the acceleration is hardly neck-snapping.
The SE, SEL and Limited models all come from the factory with a 3.5-liter V6 with 285 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque for now, though the smaller mill serves up 19 mpg city and a more impressive 27 mpg highway. Power from both engines makes its way to either the front wheels or an all-wheel drive system via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Ford had us out to the hills of Tennessee to put the Edge through its paces on a variety of roads, from full-on interstates to twisty single-lane threads of asphalt, and rarely did it disappoint. Lean on the throttle in the Sport and you're rewarded with acceleration that's quick enough to get you to speed without feeling bored, but slow enough to keep you from getting into too much trouble. Down the undulating apexes of Tennessee's Natchez Trace Parkway, the Sport felt more planted compared to its SEL sibling, but we're not entirely sure the average Edge owner would note any differences in the suspension setup. They would, however, note the firmer, more capable brakes in both vehicles compared to the 2010 model. It's a big – and welcome – difference.
Combined with the significantly quieter cabin, the revisions to the Edge's driving experience makes for a more enjoyable vehicle. What's more, we're guessing when buyers opt for the upcoming Ecoboost four-cylinder, fuel economy will improve in direct proportion to driving enjoyment – a recipe sure to put the hurt on the rest of the high-riding bruisers.
If this whole recipe sounds like the kind of thing you could get excited about, Ford will be happy to put the keys (or key fob, whichever the case may be) in your hands starting at $27,220 for SE trim. Stepping up to all of the fun stuff in Sport trim will hit your bank account for $36,995, though it doesn't take much effort to start optioning well above $40,000.
And here's where we run into the hitch in our giddy-up. That kind of money can buy you a lot of vehicle, even within the Ford stable. The Flex, Explorer and Edge are all within $2,000 of each other and offer up similar functionality for under $30,000. With the Explorer having kicked its body-on-frame habit, the parallels between it and the Edge are almost too numerous to count. The real question is whether the Edge will continue to rely on its unique styling to differentiate itself from the rest of the family or if Ford will choose to make one of its crossover entries a new value story. If it were us at the helm, we'd chop $5k off of the MSRP of the Edge to put some growing room between the three. But as it is, the Edge has the style and substance to keep it on top – as long as you keep the option check boxes at bay.
Photos Copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL
New Car Test Drive
Major revisions improve midsize crossover utility vehicle.
Ford's five-seat midsize crossover utility vehicle, the Edge, was introduced in 2007, and has been extremely successful, selling more than any other vehicle in the segment every year since its introduction. There were some minor modifications made to the Edge for 2009, but the 2011 model counts as a major makeover, with 60 percent of its parts and components replaced.
The 2011 Ford Edge gets fresh styling with a new grille, hood, fenders, lamps, bumper and air intakes up front, with new handles all around, new taillamps, liftgate, wheels, and exhaust system outlets at the rear. Underneath the Edge is a redone suspension and an improved braking system.
The Edge's most direct competitors in the marketplace are the Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, Nissan Murano, and Chevrolet Equinox, with a stretch to the BMW X3 for some comparisons.
Like all Ford products of recent vintage, the Edge has been made to look much, much bolder and sportier than its previous incarnations. Under the hood, there is more power from both its basic V6 engine and the upgraded and uprated Sport V6. Later in the year, a new base engine will be introduced on the Edge and other models, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, variable intake and exhaust cam timing, under the EcoBoost name, which up to now was used on V6 engines only.
The Edge will be the first new Ford vehicle to reach the marketplace with the MyFordTouch option. This system is an improvement on Ford's existing Sync voice-activated communications technology. It uses twin five-way thumb switches mounted on the steering wheel spokes, two 4.5-inch LED display screens flanking the speedometer in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch LED display screen at the top center of the instrument panel with a four-zone color-coding system, and a panel of flat touch buttons below it. The thumb switches, and the screen control climate, sound system, telephone, navigation and an enormous variety of information functions including turn-by-turn directions, sports scores, fuel prices, movie listings, dining, and even horoscopes, using a new list of up to 10,000 voice commands where the previous version only understood about 300.
On our test drive we noticed the increased power from the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, which has been revised for 2011, along with the speedy crispness of the 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine sounds strong in the lower gears, throaty and authoritative. Yet while cruising on the highway in top gear, the cabin is very quiet, making it easy to carry on a conversation.
Brakes are much improved, with much better pedal feel, and none of the mushiness in the previous generation.
The 2011 Ford Edge comes in SE ($27,220), SEL ($30,220), Limited ($34,220), and Sport ($36,220) versions. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available on all models: Edge SE AWD ($29,070), Edge SEL AWD ($32,070), Edge Limited AWD ($36,070), Edge Sport AWD ($38,070). (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charges and may change at any time without notice.)
Options include navigation ($795); Panoramic Vista Roof ($1,595); 20-inch chrome wheels ($895); trailer tow package ($395).
Safety equipment standard on the Edge includes front, side and roof curtain air bags, ABS, AdvanceTrac traction and yaw control with rollover stability control, SOS post-crash alert system, and tire pressure monitoring. Options include Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert; all-wheel drive.
For 2011, Edge has been given a substantial cosmetic and content makeover, a major makeover, with 60 percent of its parts and components replaced. That means a new grille, hood, fenders, lamps, bumper and air intakes up front, with new handles all around, new taillamps, liftgate, wheels, and exhaust system outlets at the rear.
The Sport model has a tuxedo black grille and lower intakes, a front spoiler, body-colored handles, rocker extensions, different exhaust tips, aluminum alloy pedal covers, 22-inch chrome wheels and big tires, MyFordTouch, and a 305-horsepower V6 engine that is exclusive to this model. This is essentially the same engine that comes in the base Mustang, and gives the Sport version to most power in the class.
There is nothing much left of the previous Edge's interior decor. The instrument panel, seat trims, door panels and door pockets have all been redesigned for more comfort and utility.
It's a crossover utility vehicle, so the front passenger seat folds flat, and each half of the second seat folds flat independently. The rear seat also reclines for additional passenger comfort. With this scheme, the driver can haul objects up to eight feet long on the right side of the cabin.
The instrument panel, center stack, switches and controls have all been redone for the 2011 models, and there are essentially two different approaches. For the SE and SEL versions, the instrument panel has a single 4.5-inch LED screen and a package of analog instruments along with a set of mechanical switches and controls in the center console and center stack.
Standard on the Limited and Sport and optional on the SEL is a completely new instrument panel, center console, flat-panel center stack and display screen for a new system called MyFordTouch.
MFT is an advance on Ford's existing Sync voice-activated communications technology that uses two five-way thumb switches mounted on the steering wheel spokes, two 4.5-inch LED display screens on either side of the big speedometer in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch LED display screen at the top center of the instrument panel with a four-zone color-coding system, and a panel of flat touch buttons below it. MFT, the thumb switches, and the screen combine to control climate, sound system, telephone, navigation and an enormous variety of information functions including turn-by-turn directions, sports scores, fuel prices, movie listings, dining, and even horoscopes, using a new list of up to 10,000 voice commands.
As for storage, the capacity of the Edge remains the same, 32.2 cubic feet behind the second seat, 68.9 cubic feet with the second seat folded flat.
There will be two engines for the Edge at the start of production. The base V6 a 3.5-liter double-overhead cam, 4-valve engine with variable cam timing, rated at 285 horsepower and 253 foot-pounds of torque. The Sport version will come only with a larger and much more powerful 3.7-liter version of the same architecture with 305 horsepower and 285 foot-pounds of torque.
The 6-speed transmission comes with a ordinary shifter on the SE model, with a SelectShift manual-control shifter on the SEL and Limited models, and with SelectShift and wheel-mounted paddle shifters on the Sport version. Electronically controlled part-time all-wheel-drive, which adds torque to the rear tires as needed, is optional on all models.
Although we drove several different models of the 2011 Edge, including the hot Sport, we settled on a well-equipped, well-optioned Limited version for our long drive experience. The first thing you notice is the additional horsepower and torque of the revised 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the speedy crispness of the 6-speed automatic's shifting. The engine sounds strong in the lower gears, throaty and authoritative, but in sixth gear cruising, the cabin is very, very quiet, and speech intelligibility around the cabin is excellent.
Ford has also fixed what we thought was a deficient braking system on the earlier models. Almost everything in the braking system has been upgraded, and the feel at the pedal, where it counts, is vastly improved. You feel the start of deceleration much earlier in the pedal travel, and the braking force is stronger and more linear than it was before. All the mushiness and indecision has been taken out of the brake pedal.
A trailer sway control system is tied into the traction and yaw control systems, to make towing up to 3500 pounds a lot easier because the trailer isn't constantly moving from side to side back there.
Ford has done a very good job up updating what was already a winner. The 2011 Ford Edge accelerates quicker, it brakes harder and more progressively, it's measurably quieter on the highway than the previous version, and its onboard electronics and entertainment systems are clearly the best in the industry in terms of capability and ease of use. It's very cool to look at, and the Sport version is the quickest CUV for the money in the segment, with the biggest, showiest tires and wheels. The SEL, the highest volume model, is equipped and priced in a segment sweet spot. Highly recommended for your shopping list.
Jim McCraw filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Nashville, Tennessee.
Ford Edge SE ($27,220), SEL ($30,220), Limited ($34,220), Sport ($36,220); SE AWD ($29,070), SEL AWD ($32,070), Limited AWD ($36,070), Sport AWD ($38,070).
Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Options As Tested
Panoramic vista roof ($1,595); Package 302A ($5,000) with navigation system, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, HID headlamps, driver entry package, vision package with blind spot monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert, rain sensing wipers, and discount.
Ford Edge Limited ($34,220).
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