In that regard, buyers have generally embraced Ford’s midsized Edge crossover wagon despite some early objections to its blunt facial profile. In a shrinking segment — fewer and fewer five-passenger midsize crossovers exist each year — the Edge holds down the number two sales slot. For 2011, Jeep’s revised Grand Cherokee stormed its way to the top slot, followed by the Edge, Nissan’s Murano and Toyota’s Venza. GM’s Equinox and Terrain twins are similar in size, but are usually marketed against their smaller, compact rivals rather than the wider, taller, midsize entrants.
In this whole group, only Jeep’s Grand Cherokee touts its off-roading abilities; all of the other crossovers mentioned here are considered soft-roaders with good foul-weather traction, but rather limited off-road capabilities. In reality, most buyers of these crossovers, and data says of SUVs, too, never venture into unmaintained road territory.
Previous exposure to the Edge had been limited to brief drives under controlled circumstances, very much similar to what potential buyers experience on their initial voyage. This level of usage never reveals all of the virtues — or shortcomings — in any vehicle.
But after 1,000 miles, a driver learns nuances and vehicle behavior that can substantiate positive first impressions, or, flip negative perceptions into positive feelings. This is the case with the Edge.
Driving the Edge came right on the heels of spending two weeks with one of the industry’s new favorites, the Grand Cherokee. While the Edge demonstrated different ways to do similar activities, it did not disappoint in any fashion. The Edge just has its own character, its own personality — attributes that the manufacturers develop and why you like the brand that you like.
Jumping into the Edge is easy with great ingress and egress for all. This elevated hip point makes forward visibility excellent in traffic and provides a more chair-like view than the somewhat reclined, and lower, stance of typical cars. Over half a million drivers admired this feature with Ford last year, as its triple-team lineup of Escape, Explorer and Edge dominated this part of the industry.
Once inside, the Edge’s seat felt stuffed — like you were sitting atop this bucket rather than being coddled inside of it, as in the Jeep. By week’s end, this was no longer an issue as the Ford’s seat was supportive for several long days in the saddle and never created any annoying leg or back issues. Power adjustments provide a great range of motion, while the thin-rimmed steering wheel has good heft, good feedback and proper control that while different from the Jeep, proved to be no worse of better.
Both of these vehicles have a comprehensive trip computer package that offers a wealth of information, accessed via buttons on the left side of the steering wheel. In the Ford, a small tach rests inside this selectable scheme of screens, while the Jeep’s is always on display. Different, but not necessarily bad.
Both the Ford and the Jeep have one-touch lane change functionality, plus the Ford has one-touch windshield wiper action. The Jeep makes you twist a left-side knob that is awkward in a hurry. Both have their emergency brake pedal tucked under the dash; for some reason, a left leg kept making contact with the Ford’s arrangement while the Jeep never created this scenario.
Moving to the right of the cabin these two manufacturers are using two different schools of thought. The Jeep’s center console is more versatile — more pockets, more space for traveling junk, both visible and hidden, although both offer additional door pockets. On the sloping dashboard of each is an array of electronic controls. Ford relies on its innovative MyFord Touch control center, integrating all climate, audio and travel/navigation changes into a touch-pad layout that can also be programmed for voice activation for most functions. Tiny touch spaces are very difficult to precisely activate while you are operating a moving vehicle, so the Jeep’s larger buttons, simpler dials and much larger info-screen get the nod here. Technology fans will love the higher level of interaction with the Ford, so once again, not bad just different.
Stepping to the rear, the Ford’s rear access is good; however, the doors don’t open as wide as the fronts. Rear seat space is at the top of the class, though, and there is good forward visibility. The center floor hump is minimal in its impact, so three passengers should fit here comfortably.
The Edge’s cargo hold doesn’t offer the separate glass liftgate that the Jeep presents, but packing space is very similar. Access heights are also the same.
Dynamically — where the rubber meets the road — the Edge distinguishes itself nicely. Riding atop a fully independent suspension that stretches the wheelbase out to 111.2 inches, plus 65.0 inches of track width, the Edge is very stable. The chassis soaks up road imperfections with aplomb and delivers a composed, balanced ride that pleases all occupants. There is minimal body roll, better than average steering feel and directional control, plus the added traction of AWD. Lacking the specific 4WD selections of the Jeep’s four-wheel-drive system, the Ford still managed to feel reasonably sure-footed in the white stuff despite its compromise all-season tires.
Prod the right pedal and the Edge responds crisply. Packing an enhanced 3.5-liter V-6 — now making 285 hp — the Edge is quick when necessary and smooth at all times. The six-speed automatic never intruded on the driving style, working as it should with no hard shifts or ‘hunting’ up and down. The Edge felt livelier on the road than the similarly powered Jeep, passing other cars with greater ease. Weighing several hundred pounds less than the Jeep certainly helps in the power delivery arena.
It was expected that the weight variance alone would have created an advantage in net fuel economy too, yet the Ford didn’t better the Jeep at all. While certainly consistent — 22 mpg was the average at every fill-up — the Edge doesn’t break any new ground in the fuel mileage category.
The Edge was also very quiet moving down the road, ensuring additional comfort that is all too often overlooked. In popular SEL trim, the Edge rides on 18-inch tires that created little road noise, while the cabin is sound-protected by thick door seals and proper insulation. Honda might take a lesson here.
The Edge comes in four trim levels. Base front-wheel drive SE models start at $28,465 with a good amount of standard gear: tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 4.2-inch MyFord display screen, rear cargo tie-downs, 17-inch wheels, Hill Start assist and the usual power amenities. An all-wheel-drive SEL, as shown here, starts at $33,620 with automatic climate controls, 18-inch wheels, leather seating, Sirius satellite radio and reverse sensing system. The Limited is up next while the revised Sport trim, with 22-inch wheels, HD radio, body-color accent panels and black trim and 10-way powered seats, tops the line with a base price of $39,650.
For 2012, the Edge will come with three powertrain selections. The base engine remains the 3.5-liter V-6, with EPA mileage estimates of 18/26 for front drive versions and 17/25 for AWD models, while the upgraded 3.7-liter 305-hp V-6 is optional for the Sport. Front drive buyers can choose a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with 240 horsepower and EPA ratings of 21/30-mpg. Properly equipped models can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Overall, the Edge was a very pleasing package. Comfort levels are high, over-the-road performance is commendable, and the size of this crossover fits the needs of many drivers. The Edge struck a chord, doing several tasks very well, and really generating few complaints. Greater fuel economy would be welcome (perhaps the EcoBoost will deliver) plus revisions to My Ford Touch promise enhanced user-efficiency going forward.
And now with new LED accent lights, the Edge’s face is starting to look a little softer too. Impression revised.
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