Ford ‘Edges’ ahead of the pack in the SUV/CUV category

In the automotive business, having the right product at the right time is the key.

  • Jan. 27, 2011 10:00 a.m.

The five-passenger Ford Edge has a cargo capacity of 912 litres

In the automotive business, having the right product at the right time is the key.

Ford has been among the best in the industry in updating and adding to its product lineup in recent years and for that reason, the firm’s fortunes have been on a tremendous upswing of late.

Just when nearly everyone was writing off Detroit’s Big Three, a reversal of fortunes was beginning for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

Ford was the first to make its way out of the doldrums, thanks in a large part to its refreshed lineup.

And, helping lead the way was the Oakville, Ont.-built Ford Edge mid-size crossover utility vehicle. Since it debuted as a 2007 model in late 2006, more than 400,000 Edges have been sold in North America, including more than 40,000 here in Canada.

So when a refresh of the Edge was in the works for 2011, Ford engineers knew they had to get it right. Members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) certainly think they did as the Edge was voted the 2011 Best New SUV/CUV $35,000 to $50,000 during testing last fall.

It is now in the running for the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, to be announced at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto in mid-February.

But the real test is the marketplace, and early indications are that the public is embracing the new design of the Edge as well. Sales were up a whopping 23 per cent in December in Canada compared with the same month in 2009. Sure, some will say, 2009 was not a good indicator because it was smack dab in the middle of the recession. That’s correct, but 23 per cent is 23 per cent, and in my books, that’s a pretty substantial increase at any time.

So what changes has Ford made to the new Edge?

Well, several to be exact.

On the outside are new front and rear fascias. The interior craftsmanship and materials have been upgraded significantly and many new goodies are offered, include the MyFord Touch driver connect technology.

And, an all-new powertrain lineup promises more power as well as improved fuel economy.

My tester was a 2011 Edge AWD Limited, priced at $44,229 plus $1,400 freight and PDI. That price included options like the $1,850 Touring Package (panoramic roof and voice activated navigation system), $650 Vision Package (blind spot monitoring system), $800 20-inch chrome clad wheels and $1,000 Driver’s Entry Package.

Built on the same platform used for the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans and the Lincoln MKX crossover, the Edge has a car-like ride and handling, thanks in part to four-wheel independent suspension.

Four trim levels are available: SE, SEL, Limited and Sport. SEL and Limited are offered with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), while SE is FWD only and Sport is AWD only. Standard on the SE, SEL and Limited is the 285 hp 3.5-litre Duratec V6 engine. New on this engine for 2011 is Ti-VCT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology that boosts horsepower and improves fuel economy.

Horsepower is up 20 from the previous model, while fuel economy numbers are also improved. With FWD and the six-speed automatic transmission, ratings are 11.2L/100 km (25 mpg) city and 7.6L/100 km (37 mpg) highway.

Add the six-speed SelectShift automatic and the highway numbers improve even more. With AWD and the SelectShift automatic, fuel economy ratings are 11.9L/100 km (24 mpg) city and 8.0L/100 km (35 mpg) highway.

Meanwhile, the Edge Sport boasts a 3.7-litre Duratec engine with the same Ti-VCT technology that makes 305 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque.

Available soon in the Edge will be a new 2.0-litre EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine. Fuel economy benefits are projected to be at least 10 per cent better than a comparable V6, but with class-leading power and torque for an inline four-cylinder.

This means the Edge for 2011 goes from offering only one engine and one transmission to three powertrains.

Standard on the SEL and Limited models are 18-inch tires and new wider wheels to produce a better steering feel. Optional on the Limited are 20-inch tires with new wider wheels, while the Edge Sport gets 22-inch wheels.

The suspension has also been retuned as shocks, springs and stabilizer bars were adjusted for better handling.

Prices start at $27,999 for the SE, $2,500 less than for the 2010 model. The mid-level SEL is $33,999 for FWD and $35,999 for AWD. Meanwhile, the Limited is $37,799 (FWD) and $39,999 (AWD), and the Sport is $43,499.

As mentioned earlier, the interior is much improved for 2011.

Ford has taken a page out of Volvo’s books for the Edge (of course, it owned Volvo until last year) with a snazzy floating centre stack, including an eight-inch LCD touch-screen at the top.

Two 4.2-inch colour LCD information screens also flank the analog speedometer. All this is standard on the Limited and Edge Sport models.

It’s all part of the MyFord Touch drive connect technology that replaces the traditional buttons, knobs and gauges. It allows you to access your entertainment, phone, climate control or navigation system through the touch-screen powered by SYNC. Many of the features can be controlled through voice commands as well as the touch screen.

While the screens are cool to look at and provide an amazing amount of information, it must be an age thing with me. I still prefer the old knobs, buttons and gauges, I’m afraid. Like some other critics, I find the information displays too distracting, but I’m sure the ‘plugged in’ younger generation will find the MyFord Touch a great innovation.

But that’s only the start of the available technology on the 2011 Edge. Among the standard or available features joining SYNC are the Easy Fuel capless fuel filler system (standard); a keyless entry keypad and blind spot mirrors (standard); MyKey allowing owners to designate keys to limit the vehicles top speed and audio volume (standard); AdvanceTrac with roll stability control (standard); adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support (optional) and blind spot information system with cross traffic alert (optional).

Other than my aversion to the touch screen technology, I was left most impressed by the new Edge. Interior space is generous both front and rear. In fact, a six-foot, five-inch friend had no trouble with leg or headroom up front during a three-hour holiday season road trip with our wives to view a spectacular Christmas light display. By the way, the rear seats fold flat as does the front passenger seat.

All in all, the new Edge for 2011 is a much more refined vehicle, with better ride, handling and features. In the AJAC competition, the Edge bested the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Kia Sorrento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota 4Runner and Honda Accord Crosstour for top spot.

All are fine vehicles in their own right, but the refreshed Ford CUV was able to ‘Edge’ them all out.

With products like the Edge, Ford should continue on its present upward swing and that all bodes well for the folks in Oakville, who do a great job building the Edge.

Ford Edge Limited 2011

Body Style: mid-size crossover utility vehicle.

Engine: 3.5-litre Duratec V6 engine (285 hp, 253 lb/ft); 3.7L Duratec V6 engine (305 hp, 280 lb/ft of torque).

Drive Method: front engine, front- and all-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy: 3.5-litre FWD 11.2L/100 km (25 mpg) city, 7.6L/100 km (37 mpg) highway; AWD 11.9L/100 km (24 mpg) city and 8.0L/100 km (35 mpg) highway.

Price: $27,999 to $43,499


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