Auto Review: Ford sharpens its Edge

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., May. 13, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Of all the classes of automobiles out there, none have grown faster (and in scope) the way the SUV has. This is surprising when you think about it, for it was not all that long ago that the only SUVs available were essentially modified pickup trucks (like the Ford Bronco, Chevy Blazer and Toyota 4Runner), and were primarily designed for off-road chores. Ford has always been a major player in the SUV competition, and has created a serious contender in every category of this dynamically changing field of highly-versatile vehicles.

As the SUV class has now splintered into subclasses, we have the highly popular crossover SUV segment, which is a car-based variant designed more for the urban jungle than the outback. But with all-wheel drive and room for kids and cargo, it’s a really popular choice in regions like ours that require all-weather driving capability. Ford entered the crossover fray in 2006 with the Edge, and this year the popular vehicle gets all kinds of upgrades to keep it fresh and competitive.

There are two versions of the Edge, known as the Edge and the Edge Sport. Both offer two-row seating and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. We sampled the new Sport version, which was armed with a 3.7-liter V6 (borrowed from the 2011 Ford Mustang) with 305 horsepower and mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel allow for manual shifting whenever you desire (meaning you don’t have to shift into a separate manual mode). Acceleration off the line is good, however midrange grunt is hampered by a transmission that’s reluctant to downshift quickly. Otherwise, the drivetrain is quiet and refined, and the all-wheel drive system is completely automatic and invisible in operation.

The Edge Sport does indeed have a sport-tuned suspension, and handling is crisp with a firm but comfortable ride and decent steering feedback. The ABS brakes are one of the Edge’s best features, with very short stops and great pedal feel. Our Edge had the optional Vision Package, with includes a Blind Spot Monitoring System that makes changing lanes much safer in heavy traffic.

Inside, the Edge Sport has a redesigned interior with excellent materials and workmanship, and we also experienced the new My Ford Touch control interface system that comes standard. According to Ford, this novel system “replaces traditional vehicle buttons, knobs and gauges with clear, crisp LCD screens and five-way controls like those found on cell phones and MP3 players. It also uses intuitive voice commands.” Overall, I prefer more traditional control interfaces, as they’re quicker and more logical, but I’m sure some drivers will be intrigued by this bold new variation in our touch-screen world. Interior space is excellent in the Edge, especially the rear seats, which offer both superb comfort and easy access, even for larger adults.

The 2011 Ford Edge Sport is EPA-rated 17 MPG city/23 highway and has a base price of $38, 070. With options, the MSRP came to $41,325.00.

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