Monday, December 9, 2013
By SCOTT WASSER
Ever since its introduction as a 2007 model, Ford's Edge has been a sales leader among midsize five-passenger crossovers. But with new and improved competition from vehicles such as Toyota's Venza and the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford needed to do something to keep its edge.
Ford’s popular five-passenger Edge crossover underwent a substantial update for the 2011 model year, getting a new front end, taillights, a redesigned interior and more power. For 2012, there’s a new four-cylinder engine option.
Front-row passengers will appreciate the upgraded cockpit. With the 2011 makeover, it has evolved from cheap-looking to upscale.
NUTS AND BOLTS
WHAT IS IT? 2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD, a midsize, five-passenger crossover.
WHAT DOES IT COST? Starting prices range from $27,525 for a front-drive SE to $39,060 for an AWD Sport. Test car's $32,070 base price climbed to $34,240 with options and delivery fees.
WHAT I LIKED BEST: Good all-around performance and value.
WHAT I LIKED LEAST: Needs more knobs on the dashboard.
WHO'S IT FOR? Anyone shopping for a midsize, five-passenger crossover.
IMPORTANT NUMBERS: 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 produces 285 horsepower, 253 lbs-ft of torque. 6-speed automatic. 111.5-inch wheelbase. 4,265-lb curb weight. 18 city/25 highway mpg (EPA). 32.2/68.9 cubic ft. cargo space behind 2nd/1st row. 0-60 in 7.7 seconds (stopwatch).
It did a whole lot of something for the 2011 model year. Ford gave the Edge a full nose job (new hood, fenders, grille and headlights), upgraded its engine and completely revamped the cockpit. It also gave it new taillights.
I recently tested a 2011 Edge SEL AWD, which is virtually identical to the 2012 model. The one notable exception for 2012 is that an economical four-cylinder, turbocharged engine is now an option for three of the four Edge models.
This is the same high-tech, 2.0-liter "EcoBoost" engine Ford offers on its other midsize crossover, the Explorer. It can deliver up to 240 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque while delivering an EPA-rated 21 city/30 highway miles per gallon.
The standard Edge engine is either a 3.5- or 3.7-liter V6, depending on trim level. The Edge Sport gets the latter, which is the same engine found in Ford's sporty V6-powered Mustangs. It generates 305 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque while earning an EPA-rated 17 city/23 highway mpg on the Sport AWD.
The Edge SE, SEL and Limited models get better mileage thanks to their smaller but otherwise similar 3.5-liter V6 engines.
Ford boosted the engine's power and fuel efficiency during its 2011 Edge upgrade by endowing it with a sophisticated new valve system. As a result, the 3.5-liter engine now produces 285 horsepower and 253 pounds-feet of torque compared with 265 and 250, respectively, for the 2010 version.
Fuel economy also is up. The EPA ratings say that 2011 and 2012 Edge SE, SEL and Limited AWD models can travel one city or two highway miles farther on a gallon of gas than 2010 Edge 3.5-liter models.
I was impressed with the Edge SEL test car's power and fuel economy during a trip that spanned eight hours of mostly interstate driving. The Edge achieved around 24 mpg during the journey at speeds averaging 70-75 mph.
Mileage dropped noticeably when the Edge meandered mainly around town in stop-and-go traffic. Nevertheless, its nearly 22 mpg average seemed good given the test car's full-time all-wheel drive, size (nearly 4,300-pound curb weight) and power.
As the kind of driver who gets criticized for making test cars feel like rollercoasters, I'd love to see how much more oomph the 3.7-liter engine provides. And I'm anxious to see for myself if Ford's highly touted EcoBoost four-cylinder can deliver the kind of mileage it promises without feeling anemic.
But having experienced only the 3.5-liter Edge wasn't frustrating because it delivers a great balance of power and fuel economy for a midsize crossover.
Like everyone else, of course I'd like to go as far as possible on a $4 gallon of gas. But not at the expense of driving a vehicle that moves like a turtle with tendonitis in all four legs.
While not quite hare-like in quickness, the Edge moves authoritatively whenever its throttle is nudged. The engine delivered rewarding response during stoplight launches, highway merges and interstate passes. It cruised effortlessly at 75 mph and made a few steep grades in Vermont's Green Mountains seem flatter than they were.
It's also capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds, according to Ford.
I never noticed the six-speed automatic transmission with which all Edges are equipped or the AWD that is available on six-cylinder models. That's a good thing; you want those components to be unobtrusive in family vehicles such as the Edge.
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