The Ford Edge is a comfortable, quick, smooth-riding light SUV with five seats and fresh styling. Even though it’s a crossover, its gas mileage isn’t what it could be, and it lacks the third row of seats that seems so important to buyers nowadays. On its own merits, though, it’s definitely worthy of consideration for shoppers seeking a midsize SUV.
The Ford Edge follows the styling direction established by the Fusion, Ford’s midsize sedan. This associates the Edge more with Ford’s cars than its trucks and SUVs. Does this mean people are getting more comfortable with models that have SUV characteristics but don’t look quite like trucks? Many car-based SUVs have been made to look like the familiar truck-based variety, tricking image-conscious shoppers into trying them and discovering all their inherent benefits. If they didn’t look like SUVs, they looked like station wagons, and wagon is a dirty word — almost as dirty as “minivan.” The Chrysler Pacifica and Ford Freestyle, the latter a brilliantly packaged and underappreciated people-mover, have floundered, in part, because they look like giant station wagons.
The Fusion’s styling has grown on me (except for the shiny taillights), and to me the Edge is better still. The taillight treatment doesn’t bother me as much, but the rear looks a little like a minivan’s. (I know: Ouch.)
There are three Ford Edge trim levels: SE, SEL and SEL Plus. Ford hasn’t gone the way of some competitors by eradicating black door handles and side mirrors; they appear on the SE, along with a black rear spoiler. The spoiler on the higher trims is body-colored. The SEL and SEL Plus add chrome tailpipes.
When I heard of the Edge’s 3.5-liter Duratec V-6, I fretted that it was a bored-out version of the played-out Duratec 3.0-liter that just barely meets the challenge in several Ford models. Fortunately it’s all-new — rated for 265 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 250 pounds-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm — and more modern, refined and gutsy. It’s the sole engine; the only transmission is a six-speed automatic developed with GM and employed in that company’s new GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and upcoming Buick Enclave.
I was disappointed by the transmission in the Outlook (see the review), so I was relieved to see it perform so well here. It kicked down quickly and eagerly, and there was little if any lag between the pedal and the engine response. Sprinting to 60 mph in roughly 7.5 seconds (in the front-wheel-drive version), the Edge leaves little to be desired in terms of quickness. Thanks to the six gears, and the drivetrain’s quick reaction times, passing power is at the ready at any speed. Engine sound penetrates when it’s working its hardest, but overall the cabin is noticeably quiet.
Unfortunately, the Ford Edge’s EPA-estimated gas mileage isn’t what one might expect from a car-based vehicle of this size with a V-6 and a six-speed transmission.
|2007 Crossover SUV Fuel Economy
|Hyundai Santa Fe
|Toyota Highlander (4-cyl.)
|Toyota Highlander (V-6)
The Edge’s estimates fall between those for the Honda Pilot and Saturn Outlook, both of which are larger and include three rows of seats, versus the Edge’s two rows. The other models listed perform better still, even though they’re also seven- or eight-seaters (except the Nissan Murano, which is more fuel-efficient). The Edge’s weight is the likeliest factor: It weighs 4,098 pounds in the base, front-wheel-drive model and 4,282 with optional AWD. That’s a few hundred pounds heavier than the Murano and about 200 pounds shy of the Pilot.
This is hardly as dramatic as the Volkswagen Touareg, which weighs close to three tons, but I’m always baffled when a manufacturer builds a unibody SUV that doesn’t make as much use as possible of its inherent benefits — among them, lighter weight (fuel economy) and space efficiency (a third seat row).
Each of the Ford Edge’s trim levels is available with all-wheel drive for an additional $1,650. Called Intelligent AWD, the electronically controlled system is claimed to apportion torque proactively between the front and rear axles based on conditions, to prevent wheelspin rather than simply react to it. I had the Edge during a Chicago snowstorm, and it performed well, but there was a touch of wheelspin before the four-wheel traction control kicked in. (The AWD can send all of the torque to the front or rear axle, but the ABS-based traction control makes sure it gets to the left or right wheel, whichever has grip.)
Even the front-drive Edge has four-wheel antilock disc brakes as standard equipment. They’re not the car’s greatest attribute. I found the pedal mushy and the stopping power only fair.
The Ford Edge’s ride quality may be its greatest attribute. It isolates occupants from rough roads without riding like a raft. We’ve been saying for years that car-based SUVs are, understandably, more carlike to drive, but they often have very firm ride quality — not bouncy, but firmer in some examples than the more luxurious truck-based type. That’s not the case in the Edge.
The Edge’s tradeoff seems to be in body roll and, to a lesser extent, handling. Overall, though, I think the car’s dynamics are perfectly appropriate for this type of vehicle, and it’s a really nice balance of ride, handling and acceleration.
Once again, its car-based construction makes the Edge’s floor relatively low and the cabin easy to get into. The SE has cloth upholstery and the SEL has upgraded cloth. The SE’s front seats are manual, and though the driver gets a lumbar adjustment, there’s no seat height adjustment, which is a bummer if drivers of different statures hope to share the same Edge. Fortunately, the standard steering wheel tilts and telescopes, which helps everyone get comfortable and situated the proper distance from the airbag.
The SEL adds power to the driver’s seat, including a height adjustment. The SEL Plus has standard leather upholstery with front seat heaters and power adjustment for the passenger. SEL buyers can upgrade to these seats via a couple of option packages. While visibility is pretty good to the rear, a rearview camera — an increasingly common feature worth having — is not yet offered on the Edge. Instead there’s a sonar Reverse Sensing System, which is better than nothing and is a stand-alone option (hurray!) priced at $245.
The interior quality was good in my car, but being a Ford Edge SEL Plus it’s outfitted quite differently than the lower trims, so I can’t speak yet to the others. The high point — one that elevates the interior overall — is the aluminum trim that comes in the SEL and SEL Plus. I’d like to see it spread beyond the center control panel, but even this much adds a lot. Even if it’s not your style, I think you’d agree that it’s worth whatever Ford paid to include it in place of cheesy fake metal trim. Granted, the cheesy stuff appears in practically every model — from every country — that’s hit the market for the past few years. If the American brands hope to raise their tarnished image, they should start by dumping the American cheese.
The lack of a third-row seat makes for an accommodating backseat with reclining backrests and a nearly flat wide-open floor. It makes two passengers comfortable and three passengers more of a possibility than they’d be in many models. It’s a reasonably open, bright space back there. If you want it to feel more open, and you have $1,395 burning a hole in your pocket, Ford will put a couple of holes over your head with the panoramic Vista Roof — a large front moonroof and a separate skylight over the backseat. They have power retracting sun screens, controllable from the driver’s seat. The Edge’s interior is admirably quiet, so anyone who’s sensitive to outside noise will want to pay attention to the Vista Roof’s effect. The shades are fabric, so they don’t block sound as well as sliding panels do.
Naturally, the 60/40-split, reclining rear seats also fold forward to extend the cargo area. The folding process couldn’t be simpler: You don’t have to flip the seat cushions and you don’t have to remove the head restraints before you pull the handle. The backrests are spring-loaded to do the rest for you. This comes into play if you have the optional Easyfold power-folding feature, a switch at the rear of the cargo area that basically pulls the lever for you, saving you the trouble of opening the backdoor and doing it manually. It’s the distance between the switch and the lever in the Edge that makes this feature worthwhile — unlike the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, whose button next to the seat does the same thing from a spot where you could easily reach out and flip the seat lever manually (the most highly marketed non-feature I’ve seen in some time).
Standard in the Plus and optional in the SEL is a folding front passenger seat that provides up to 8 feet of continuous space from the liftgate.
The Ford Edge’s maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds, which is average for a crossover of this size. Pulling a trailer of more than 2,000 pounds requires the Class II Trailer Tow Prep Package, which costs about $350. It includes a hitch receiver, wiring harness, engine oil cooler and upgraded cooling fans, radiator and battery.
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|Curb weight (lbs.)
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|EPA-estimated gas mileage
The Ford Edge has a comprehensive set of safety features. In addition to the usual required airbags, there are seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats. Side curtain airbags provide side-impact protection for the front and rear seats, and can prevent occupant ejection in a rollover — the so-called Safety Canopy feature. There are head restraints for all seating positions, including active head restraints on the front seats.
In addition to a standard electronic stability system, the Edge has Roll Stability Control, the only system that can sense a rollover has begun and attempt to stop it.
The Ford Edge is a reasonably well equipped new entry with a few missing features, such as the aforementioned rearview camera and a powered liftgate. The SE comes up a little short, lacking leather on the shifter and steering wheel, chrome on the dashboard, lights on the visor vanity mirrors and storage in the overhead console.
The Ford Edge could definitely sell well, so long as people don’t mind that is has just five seats. It’s strictly from a market perspective that Ford has me confused. Three similar body-type crossovers and one truck-based SUV in or under the midsize category? The Escape and Edge have five seats, and the Freestyle and Explorer will handle larger clans. We’re also told the Fairlane, a three-row crossover, is slated for 2008. Five compact or midsize models? The mind boggles. Surely, something has to go. Perhaps Ford expects sales of truck-based SUVs to drop further, or plans a slow death for the Freestyle. Time will tell. If you’re shopping, I guess it doesn’t matter. If you like, you buy.