A college classmate, a husky guy, used to say that while he might not be the fastest man downcourt in basketball, he was a tough opponent because he had "upper body quickness." Which I guess meant he was good at stealing the ball, but whatever it meant, it's always stuck — this idea of someone big believing he was nimble. Such is the 2019 Ford Edge ST.
The Edge ST is Ford Performance's first attempt at tuning up a crossover, with the 2020 Explorer ST soon to join it. And with Americans deprived of the Focus ST and soon the Fiesta ST, we imagine/hope the new Ford Escape will eventually get the ST treatment, too. When you send away all your cars, you just have to tune whatever's left.
The Edge ST gets Ford's excellent 2.7-liter Ecoboost twin-turbo V6, with a 20-horse boost to 335 horsepower and torque up 30 pound-feet to 380. It's the only way to get this powerful V6 in the Edge, as lesser Edges make do with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four.
No complaints about the horses under the hood, but power is not the only thing to consider. Ford puts the Edge ST's weight at a pudgy 4,477 pounds, 1,250 pounds heavier than the Focus ST, though it's 224 fewer pounds than the Explorer ST. But despite the added inertia, the Edge is certainly not not-fast. All that torque really gets it moving, with Ford and others putting its 0-to-60 time under 6 seconds, and in a Ford promotional video the Edge ST whupped the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, at least in a straight line. (We have no idea who was driving the Focus and Fiesta, but Joey Logano was the edge in the Edge ST.)
Ford Performance has also had its way with the suspension, particularly its independent multi-link rear suspension and new monotube shocks. The ride is not that of a a floaty-bloaty family SUV, though it's also no Focus ST either. There's some lean in corners, yet it's a little more fun to toss than most crossovers. Looking out over the wide hood, though, as I pitched it through my neighborhood hillclimb's narrow curves, it was hard to shake the feeling that I was filling my lane out to the guardrail. It's just a different experience than driving a car. Braking feels solid and easily modulated, much more so than the brakes on a recently driven twin of the Edge, the outgoing Lincoln MDX.
Sport drive mode is engaged by an "S" button in the middle of the rotary gear selector. In his first-drive review, Reese Counts noted slow shifts. And during my week with this car, especially when using the paddles, the eight-speed transmission was often slow to upshift, with a distinctly long hang-time from third to fourth gear. Sometimes the wait was enough to fool me into hitting the paddle again, which sent it straight on into fifth. Presumably this problem was unique to the test car. The cabin is quiet around town and on the highway, but Sport mode summons up some growl.
It was hard, for me at least, to find a comfortable seating position. A bit more legroom and angle to the seat bottom would've helped, but I felt more on top of the seat than settled down in it. The seat height, eight inches of ground clearance and overall 68.3-inch vehicle height had me feeling uncomfortably tall, but we know crossover buyers like that. (That said, in an age of trucks and crossovers, isn't the supposed advantage of a "commanding view" rendered meaningless when everyone else got taller too?)
A small complaint about the instrument cluster: It’s a Ford display shared among several models, with a large analog speedo in the middle, flanked by two small digital panels that toggle through readouts such as AWD traction distribution or fuel economy. Among these displays is a tachometer a bit bigger than a golfball at the extreme far left, which in my sightline was obscured by the steering wheel. If you buy into the idea of the Edge ST as a performance vehicle, you'll probably want to consult the tachometer, but it's in a marginal location. Also, the display includes a turbo boost gauge, but if you were interested in seeing that, you’d have to toggle away from the tach. They don't display together.
The dashboard controls for HVAC and audio are laid out clearly and are easy to use, the Bang & Olufsen premium stereo sounds great, and this was the most responsive Sync 3 version I've fiddled with yet. Interior materials seem nicer than in past Edges, though there is still a swath of hard, gray plastic running from the dash-top cubby lid down through to the center console, where a bit of piano black then takes over. On the passenger side above the glovebox, meanwhile, there is a strip of faux carbon fiber — the only, lonely bit of it in the entire cabin. Using that texture on the cubby, stack and console as well would have dressed things up a little. In addition to that top cubby, the driver has lots of storage within reach, including a hidden phone-charging platform and a cavern in the center console that's elbow deep.
And the Edge ST gives you what no other Ford Performance vehicle can, at least until you can buy the new Explorer: 39.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row, and 74.4 cubes with those seats down.
The ST exterior badging on the Edge is understated. This car looked handsome in white and black accents, including the black mesh ST grille, but a few more dapples of red would have accessorized it. You get more of the branding inside: on the welcome screen, headrests, steering wheel. The red brake calipers do pop nicely. They are part of the $2,695 ST Performance Brake Package, which features 21-inch black wheels, Pirelli P Zero summer tires, performance brake pads and 13.6-inch front rotors.
Over a week, the Edge ST registered 18 mpg in all-around driving, a bit under its EPA rating of 19 city, 26 highway, 21 combined. With an 18.5-gallon tank, you'll need to fuel up every 330 miles or so — it seemed to happen fast. The Edge ST takes regular gas.
An Edge ST starts at $43,450 including a $1,095 destination fee, and as tested was $52,325, though Ford's configurator showed a lease incentive that would knock $2,750 off that. That's less than the performance SUV offerings from Germany. And it's less than hot domestic SUVs such as the Grand Cherokee SRT or Durango SRT, though it's also less powerful, lighter and smaller than those.
If performance is the only thing you're after, there are lots of more traditional choices. For that money, buy a couple Focus STs or Fiesta STs before they're all gone. But if you think you need the roomy SUV/crossover form factor, the Edge ST combines practicality with power enough to get out of its own way, and it might even inject your suburban hauling with a bit of fun.