Yee-Ha! in a 2011 Ford Edge Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery Manufacturers used to roll out all-new cars every five-to-eight years. Somewhere around the halfway point – usually year three – much hoopla would be made about new front and rear fascias, the addition of some standard features and some new option packages. (*Yawn*). These changes were designed to give shoppers a reason to look at a car that was getting long-in-the-tooth. Ford Motor Company sung by this songbook for decades, but it's not any longer. As we've seen with the Escape, Fusion and Mustang, the Ford brand is rolling out significant product changes any time they darn well please. For example, the 2010 Fusion could have been a standard refresh, but instead included three all-new powertrains, a significantly upgraded interior, and the expected front and rear fascias. Introduced as a 2007 model at the close of 2006, the Edge was Ford's second attempt at a more car-like crossover. (Anybody remember the Freestyle/Taurus X ... uhh, not so much.) Heading into its fifth year of production, the Edge needed some serious attention. It just got it: We reported so on the eve of February's Chicago Auto Show. Following the new model's public debut, Ford offered Autoblog an exclusive opportunity to ride in a 2011 Edge Sport with some development engineers so we could have an early, behind-the-scenes look at their handiwork. The new Edge doesn't go on sale until later this Summer, but you can read all about our experience at the Dearborn Development Center right now after the jump. %Gallery-88441% Photos by Rex Roy / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc. Driving into Ford's expansive test facility, the navy Edge Sport stood out, even from an eighth of a mile away. The lower hood, narrower headlights, new fenders, chrome grille and vertical daytime running lights effectively update the crossover's style. A closer look sees a body that's hunkered down over huge 22-inch aluminum wheels. Rich Kreder, Vehicle Development Manager pointed out, "Those forged wheels are premium pieces. They don't get any better." Louis Jamail, Core Vehicle Dynamics guy, chimed in, "The suspension is all new, and it does sit a few millimeters lower." Jamail went on to explain that even though the Edge rides over a chassis that's unrelated to the Flex, Taurus, Lincoln MKT and MKS, suspension technology used on these models is now under the Edge (and the 2011 Lincoln MKX). Revised springs and bushings support the most important change, new dampers. They're a twin-tube design with fully displaced pistons. For non-engineers, the result is more control with less friction. The on-road translation means that the new Edge rides more smoothly than before, with a notable improvement in handling. With Jamail at the wheel, we hurtled around a handling course. Jamail knows a thing or two about being behind the wheel. After participating in the Formula SAE competition in college, he worked on advanced chassis dynamics supporting Ford's NASCAR teams. He's not the kind of …
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