The Mustang of Crossovers 2.0 - On the mountainous, desert roads outside of Scottsdale (in and around the Tonto National Forest in particular) the Sport model demonstrated that you can have a sporty, dynamic handling crossover vehicle without having to shell out the big bucks for a German steed.
When Ford entered the market with the Edge in 2006, the crossover utility segment was just starting to take shape. The automaker has gone on to sell 123,500 units in Canada since, and today, all utility segments account for roughly 33 percent of all new vehicle sales; with the outgoing Edge accounting for roughly 1,500 units a month.
With V6 power and a FWD drivetrain only, the outgoing generation was a great option for suburbanites and city dwellers looking to stay away from large truck-based utility vehicles. With two rows of seating and plenty of driver-focused tech, the Edge has been well-received and well-liked by the masses from the get-go. However, Edge owners wanted more. More power, better driving dynamics, additional technology and uncompromising style to boot. Ford was listening, and has delivered the goods in all of those areas.
The Edge family is now four strong and includes the SE, SEL, Titanium (replaces Limited) and Sport. All but the latter are being offered with a choice of front- and all-wheel-drive, and four- or six-cylinder engines. And all are being built at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex for global export to more than 100 countries.
This new version has been totally redesigned from stem to stern, and the whole vehicle has been improved with emphasis in three key areas: style, performance and technology.
Three engines are available on the 2015 models, which start at $31,999. In Canada, the 2015 Edge Sport comes exclusively with a 315-horsepower 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 and all-wheel-drive for $13,200 more to start. All other trims offer a choice between FWD or AWD, and an all-new twin-scroll two-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder with direct injection making 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 that carries over from the previous generation with 280 horsepower and 250 lb-ft.
The Sport will come to market as advertised – sporty – and the Edge’s full-time, on-demand AWD system is a big reason for it. It has the ability to continually assess road conditions and driver inputs, and can transfer 100 percent of the available torque from the front to the rear. Beefed-up brakes are used to control torque delivery from side-to-side. Combined with an all-new body structure that is more resistant to bending and twisting, the results are very noticeable.
On the mountainous, desert roads outside of Scottsdale (in and around the Tonto National Forest in particular) the Sport model demonstrates that you can have a sporty, dynamic handling crossover vehicle without having to shell out the big bucks for a German steed. The $41,999 base MSRP is nothing to sneeze at, but it is a good value.
Ride quality has been superbly refined. Enhanced damping provides the Edge Sport with improved road-holding capability, control, sharper steering and greater driver confidence. There is very little body lean thanks to upgrades to the basic independent front strut and multilink rear suspension, including stiffer anti-roll bars in the front and rear, unique larger diameter rear monotube dampers and springs that are 10 percent stiffer than the previous generation's setup. Twenty-inch polished aluminum wheels are standard on the Sport. The 22s are no longer being offered, however, 21-inch premium wheels are available.
The electromechanical steering has excellent, direct linear response with good weight and feedback. The steering wheel itself has all kinds of redundant controls for things such as audio, navigation, Ford MyTouch, etc. And there are paddle shifters for those seeking manual control over the excellent (read smooth, quiet and responsive) six-speed automatic gearbox.
I also drove the topline Titanium model with the two-litre EcoBoost and found it to be more than adequate for people's day-to-day needs. It isn't until you get high up into the mountains where you notice its lack of power and laggy acceleration (not body-jolting lag, but it is a bit soggy when you are trying to pass slower traffic or maintain speed on long and/or steep inclines). And while it does have a tendency to kick down to a lower gear more often than one would like, it does so without being jerky. The AWD Sport and, presumably (because I didn't have a chance to drive it) the 3.5-litre V6-powered models, do not do this.
Road and wind noise is down dramatically on all trims thanks to thicker laminated glass, wind strakes (deflectors on the side mirrors, rear hatch and elsewhere) and panels with acoustic properties (i.e. more porous). The Edge Sport, however, is also equipped with active noise cancellation technology to manage and enhance the sound of the engine. The system uses microphones strategically placed throughout the cabin to generate opposing sound waves, which are directed through the audio system practically imperceptibly to enhance overall cabin ambiance.
The 2015 Edge Sport is also being touted as a style leader. To that end, Ford designers have done well at evolving a great design to be even more striking and powerful looking. Signature LED front lighting and sculpted taillamps punctuate the Sport's stronger, more athletic shape, which is available in new colours such as Electric Spice and Bronze Fire Metallic. A unique hood with power bulge-inspired wind deflectors and a Taurus-inspired front grille with aerofoil-shaped louvers and active grille shutters (which automatically close at highway speeds to reduce drag) help to increase fuel economy.
The observed 11.1 L/100 km over 300 kilometres is pretty respectable; however, the fact the Sport is not available with a tow package (while all other trims are) is a bit of a downer.
The interior features leather-trimmed sport seats with perforated suede inserts, aluminum brake and accelerator pedal covers, ambient lighting and metal-plated accents throughout. Other interior appointments include Ford SYNC with an eight-inch LCD touchscreen, two configurable LCD screens in the instrument cluster and a media hub containing two USB ports, SD card reader and an auxiliary input jack. A 12-speaker Sony audio system is standard and is a big improvement over the old touch sensitive version.
Ensuring that the Edge Sport is a technology tour de force is a long list of driver assist features, including cross traffic alert, lane keeping with BLIS, AdvanceTrac with roll stability control and curve control. Even self parking - both parallel and perpendicular - is available on the new Edge along with a self-cleaning, forward-looking camera. The camera allows the driver to see into the lane before pulling out, however I would have liked to see this tech on the rear of the vehicle, too, where it would be even more useful to many drivers. Time will tell if owners embrace or forget that they paid extra for this luxury parking feature. As the outgoing Edge ends its life cycle after receiving a coveted 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study award, the stage is set for the next generation to achieve even greater success. And by all accounts, that's exactly what's in store for this smart, sporty and stylish second-gen crossover.
Specifications 2015 Ford Edge Sport AWD
Base Price: $45,199
Engine: 2.7L EcoBoost V6
Horsepower: 315 hp @ 4,750 rpm TORQUE: 350 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm CONFIGURATION: FA
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic
Dry Weight: 1,841.5 kg
Fuel Economy Ratings (NEDC cycle; City / Hwy.): 13.6 / 9.8 L/100 km
Fuel Economy Ratings (Observed): 11.1 L/100 km after 303 km
Warranty (mos / km): 60 / 100,000
Options on test vehicle: EQUIPMENT GROUP 401A ($4,350) BLIS with cross-traffic alert, auto-dimming driver's side mirror, 110 V power outlet, lane keeping system, heated rear seats, heated / cooled front seats, enhanced park assist with side sensors, front 180-degree camera, hands-free liftgate, HID headlamps with auto high beams, rain-sensing wipers; CANADIAN TOURING PACKAGE ($2,000): Panoramic vista roof, voice-activated navigation; CARGO ACCESSORY PACKAGE ($400): Tonneau cover, cargo area protector, rear bumper protector; 21-inch premium alloy wheels ($750).
BY THE NUMBERS
- $143.5/HP (calculated with base MSRP)
- 116.7 HP/L
- 155.17 HP/TON
- 11.1 L/100 KM
Oakville Assembly Transformation
Ford's 5,464,000 square-foot Oakville Assembly Plant has undergone a massive upgrade to include new technology and robotics, new processes and new training for 1,700 new workers. More than 250 new robots have been added, with approximately 1,000 robots being upgraded with new software and vision systems that improve efficiency and precision to ensure repeatable, high-quality assembly. Among the upgrades are:
*New robots to apply urethane to glass for consistent application every time, creating a perfect seal that reduces wind noise and improves quietness and comfort for the customer.
*New robots to install panels, doors and hoods, reducing variability and offering more control in installation for a more durable build.
*Laser brazing with new robotics to offer cleaner lines and higher strength and precision in the seaming of the roof for a higher-end design.
*A "Vehicle on Wheels" visions system to ensure the flushness of doors, hood and lift gate through laser and optical images for a seamless fit.
*3D dirt detection technology, which uses high-resolution cameras to detect and locate any paint imperfections not readily seen by the naked eye, and increased robotic automation in paint to employ a more durable paint application, resulting in best-in-class exterior appearance.