Twenty-two inch wheels. A chocolate bar shy of two feet, the 2009 Ford Edge Sport has alloys the size of manhole covers. Despite being made of aluminum, these wheels pull the eyes of onlookers magnetically. The big rollers are not everyone's cup of tea, but they're the defining feature of the Edge Sport – even the standard Sport model kicks it with 20s. Ford adds even more visual slickness to the Edge Sport with smoked lenses for the head- and tail-lamps that go along with an uncommonly tasteful bodykit. We spent a week to-ing and fro-ing with an Edge Sport just to see if those rollers crushed our kidneys into renal failure, or if this crossover's aggressive looks are matched to a chassis that you can get along with every day. Click on the jump to find out.
Photos Copyright ©2009 John Neff / Weblogs, Inc.
Surprisingly, the Ford Edge Sport is not a four-wheeled meat tenderizer. Ride quality is always a subjective land mine where one man's buttoned down is another man's harsh, but the Edge Sport pulls off its outsized sneakers. The Sport is firmer than other Edge models, partly due to the tires matched with the 22s – high performance 40-series Pirelli all seasons sporting a 265 millimeter cross-section.
Beyond tires that would be aggressive for any street car, the unsprung mass of such gigantic hunks of metal at each corner could make for terribly bad vibes from behind the wheel. To bolster its chance for success, Ford set its suspension tuners upon the big CUV. The result is increased damping rates all around, stiffer rear springs and an additional millimeter of diameter for the front anti-roll bar, now 34mm.
The attention given to the suspenders works well out in the wild, with the 22s costing surprisingly little in terms of ride quality over the standard 20s with which the Sport ships. The Edge's normal poise is there, with noticeably tight rebounding that keeps ride motions on the well-disciplined side of firm. For drivers that find the typical soft, slow-witted dynamics of most SUV/CUVs objectionable, the Edge Sport shows that the segment can be tuned for something other than lumbering mush.
Mechanically, the Edge Sport isn't terribly different from its other brethren. The same 3.5-liter V6 and slick-operating six-speed automatic transmission are here. The 265 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque that this engine delivers will pull the 4,000-plus pounds around with satisfying snap when the tachometer needle swings north. Admittedly, however, those gigundo hoops promise performance that the engine bay can't muster. EcoBoost anyone?
The Edge Sport's braking prowess is a bit of a letdown from the rest of the mechanical harmony. While pedal feel is reasonably good, there's surprisingly little return without a firmer-than-normal braking foot. Peering through the spokes of those big wheels just adds aesthetic disappointment to the performance shortcoming. With Conestoga-sized wheels, the standard rotors and calipers appear puny. More rotor diameter would not only add visual horsepower, but might actually result in more responsive brakes to boot. At the very least, a color on the calipers would have been a nice touch, though perhaps it's better to avoid drawing any attention to the otherwise stock hardware.
Ford's 6F transmission is smooth like butter and still responsive in this age of recalcitrant self-shifters. Gear changes do not slam harshly or snap heads, even at wide open throttle, and the optional all-wheel drive system flattens any torque steer that may try to rear its head. The front-drive Edge Sport would save you some bucks and a little weight, and AWD doesn't figure to be as helpful in foul weather thanks to those those big wheels and steamroller rubber. If you live where it snows, a winter wheel/tire package for this vehicle would be money well spent.
In any weather, the Edge Sport's interior is a comfortable place to spend time. Seats are covered with a combination of leather and perforated Alcantara, held together by French stitching. They're some of the best in Ford's furniture warehouse, but having power adjustment for fore/aft and seat bottom tilt teamed with a manual lever for rake seems strange. At least the mechanisms should remain reliable over time with no drive cables for the seatback.
Metallic trim accents the center stack with the Sport logo embossed as a pattern, lest you forget where you are. It's an Edge SEL inside otherwise, meaning attractively designed, rendered nicely, mostly in good materials and long-haul comfortable. Most option boxes are pre-ticked for Edge Sports, but there are ways to spend more than the $35,770 base price of our AWD tester. $1995 will buy the Premium Package that nets you heated, power-operated front seats; climate control; a power liftgate; integrated garage door opener and heated mirrors with puddle lamps. Additionally, those wheels that have everyone talking will cost you a grand, and the massive Vista Roof, which makes the interior feel open and airy, will lighten your wallet by another $1595.
Switchable ambient lighting is more of a novelty than anything else, but it comes standard, along with Sync. Ford's world-beating navigation system is only available with the Premium Package, so while the nav option is $2380, you have to spend nearly two grand just to get the chance to spend even more. The only other high-buck option is a rear-seat DVD system that puts screens in the headrests. Smaller additions to the options list will run you in the hundreds. All tallied, one can easily push the Edge into market waters infested with exceptionally stiff competition.
The Edge Sport we borrowed from Ford was solidly in the low $40,000s, with room to go. That pricing level sees the Edge Sport butting heads with a Lexus RX350 that carries a more luxe interior – one possibly even optioned up with a premium package. While a topped-out Edge is going to have more stuff for less money than a similarly priced Lexus and the Ford may be more pleasing to enthusiasts, it's out of its league when the needle on the cash-o-meter swings past $40,000. Also puzzling is the fact that the Edge Sport fits in above the Limited trim level, while actually offering less off the bat.
At least the body enhancements look like a million bucks, making the extra thousands feel like a bargain when you set your gaze upon the Edge Sport. The unique lower fascias front and rear and rocker panels are body color, exhaust tips are larger on the Sports, and of course there are those chromey wheels, either as 20s or 22s. With the Edge Sport, Ford takes an already good vehicle and trims, tucks and tweezes it into something entirely more compelling. The actual reasons for the Edge Sport's existence might be murky – perhaps Ford didn't want Toyota to have a lock on titanic wheels with its Venza.
The Edge Sport delivers a lot to like. It's very comfortable, performs well and looks great. Price-wise, it's mildly painful and flirts with competition that, while admittedly focused on a different buyer, offers much more prestige for about the same price. There's a lot of pleasure to be had behind the wheel, though. We drove the Edge Sport all over the place while enjoying the change in attitude these tweaks have wrought. It may not be a sports car or stuffed to the gills with bone-crushing horsepower, but the Edge Sport does live up to its badging with a touch more capability and discipline, and it adds a big wallop of style inside and out that's unique among blue-collar Detroit offerings. That distinction may be exactly where the Edge Sport belongs, as it offers something that's a bit of a reach for the brand, yet has no direct competitors, preferring instead to crash the party of a more elite clique.
Photos Copyright ©2009 John Neff / Weblogs, Inc.
UPDATE: The Edge Sport in the gallery is a different vehicle than the one the reviewer drove. The review car was equipped with navigation and climate control, but not with the Vista Roof.
|2009 Ford Edge Sport|
|Engine||3.5-liter V6||Front Brakes||Ventilated Discs (ABS)|
|Configuration/Valvetrain||DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder||Rear Brakes||Solid Discs|
|Max Horsepower @ RPM||265 hp @ 6,250 RPM||Wheels (front)||20x7.5-inches|
|Max Torque @ RPM||250 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM||Wheels (rear)||20x7.5-inches|
|Drive Type||All-wheel drive||Tires (front)||245/50 R20 all-season|
|Transmission||Six-speed Automatic||Tires (rear)||245/50 R20 all-season|
|Fuel Injection||Sequential Multi-Port|
|Compression Ratio||10.3:1||Exterior Dimensions|
|Recommended Fuel||87 octane||Length||185.7 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||20 gallons||Width||75.8 inches|
|EPA Fuel Economy (city/hwy)||15 / 22 mpg||Height||67.0 inches|
|0-60 mph time (MFR est.)||Not Available||Wheelbase||111.2 inches|
|Top Speed||Not Available||Curb Weight||4,288 pounds|
|Front||MacPherson, w/ anti-roll bar||Maximum Seating||5|
|Rear||Independent w/ anti-roll bar||Luggage Capacity||32.2 cu-ft|
|Steering||Power rack-and-pinion||Head Room (Front/Rear)||40.0 / 39.3 inches|
|Turns Lock-to-Lock||3.1||Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)||58.9 / 58.8 inches|
|Turning Circle (feet)||38.6||Leg Room (Front/Rear)||40.7 / 39.6 inches|