If you were at the Detroit Auto Show in January, 2006, you might have enjoyed the buzz associated with Ford’s launch of its new Edge. With a platform based on Mazda’s then-current Mazda6, sheetmetal that looked for all the world like this century (as opposed to its Explorer sibling, at that point firmly positioned in the last century) and powertrains reasonably relevant to those wanting to save both gas and money, the new Edge seemed an automotive wake-up from the Ford Motor Company.
Some six years later the 2012 Edge benefits from refreshed styling and, more recently, Ford’s vaunted EcoBoost technology – in the guise of its turbocharged 2.0 liter four delivering V6 power – under the hood. The end result is a combination of sheetmetal and powertrain fully competitive in the still-hot midsize crossover segment, sitting atop a chassis architecture feeling a tad old for today’s mission. It isn’t, after all, built on the current Mazda6 underpinnings, but yesterday’s Mazda6 underpinnings.
In the introductory walkaround we’re impressed by the Edge’s relatively clean surfaces. The 2011 Edge refresh included a more aggressive front fascia, and those models equipped with an EcoBoost drivetrain have unique rocker panels. The greenhouse is fairly open, providing good outward visibility, which stands in stark contrast to those design efforts which regard the ability to see as an act mandating an in-car camera. And with its short overhangs and a relatively wide stance, the 2012 Edge provides an urban, athletic footprint; think b-ball rather than volleyball.
Inside the Edge you’ll see a menu of contemporary features (including voice-activated navigation) in a wholly predictable layout. The seating position, with the leather-trimmed seats in our Edge Limited offering 10-way adjustment, seemed about right, although the black leather imbued the environment with a hint of claustrophobia a lighter interior choice might have avoided. The interior’s layout and appointments are attractive, but when compared to Ford’s 2013 Escape look as if they came from another company. And given Ford’s corporate environment today vis-à-vis that of 2006, one could suggest they did.
Despite its Mazda roots the Edge’s ride-and-handling balance has always seemed as ponderous as planted. The on-road dynamic isn’t – by any stretch – bad, but neither would it veer into the recreational. Mazda’s CX-9, itself fairly long-in-the-tooth, feels more nimble despite its longer wheelbase and 3-row capability. Only when comparing the Edge to the new Explorer would you sense a (comparatively) nimble composure.
Admittedly, while the Edge’s chassis dynamic may not delight, nor does it measurably disappoint. This is, after all, a midsize crossover, one we won’t typically schedule for a track day. But with an increasing number of manufacturers, from Acura (RDX and MDX) to Volvo (XC60) adding a nimble feel to their stylistic flair we’d have hoped the Edge team had provided a handling edge.
Happily, all is forgiven when putting the pedal to the metal. With the addition of EcoBoost to the Edge’s menu, this midsize CUV goes from satisfactory to sensational. Although its horsepower – 240 @ 5,500 rpm – falls short when compared to the base, 3.5 liter V6, its torque is some 10% better, developing 270 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm versus the V6’s 253 lb-ft at a more elevated 4,000 rpm. Connected to the standard 6-speed automatic and – in our test vehicle – propelling only the front wheels, the Edge was fully responsive, bordering on the recreational. A moment of tire chirp could be elicited under hard acceleration (all-wheel drive is not available with the EcoBoost four), as could the briefest suggestion of torque steer, but any small negatives were dispelled as the smile spread across your face.
This is a crossover powertrain as the automotive gods might have intended, bridging the gap between in-town functionality and over-the-road fun. Of course, an EPA estimate of 21 City/30 Highway will bolster the argument (and help with the $995 surcharge), but the payoff is in effortless passing capability matched by an oh-so-relaxed cruising capability.
With a new Fusion rolling out this fall, a new Edge can’t be far behind. We’d keep its urban feel and EcoBoost drivetrain, while adding a platform more similar in feel to today’s Focus and Escape. At which point Ford might have an Edge with (you guessed it) a discernible edge…
2012 Ford Edge Limited, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 5-door midsize Crossover, front engine/front-wheel drive
Base price: $34,915
Price as tested: $38,910 (with transportation)
* Type: 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC inline four with turbocharger, direct injection
* Displacement: 2.0 liters
* Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
* Compression ratio: 9.3:1
* Horsepower: 240 @ 5,500 rpm
* Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
* Recommended fuel: regular unleaded
* Fuel economy, EPA est.: 21/30
* Fuel economy, observed: 19 (in-town stop-and-go/aggressive freeway)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
* Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson strut / Independent with trailing blade, isolated subframe
* Wheels: 20 x 8.0 inch chrome clad
* Tires: 245/50HR20
* Brakes: 4-wheel disc
* Steering: Hydraulic rack-and-pinion
* Turning circle: 39.3 ft.
* Wheelbase: 111.2 in.
* Length: 184.2 in.
* Height: 67.0 in.
* Width: 76.0 in. (excluding mirrors)
* Curb weight: 3,998 lbs
* Trunk volume: 32.2 cubic feet behind second row/68.9 cubic feet behind first row
* Fuel tank: 18.0 gal.
* Active: Blind spot mirrors and available BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert, AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
* Passive: Safety Canopy, a side air curtain technology offering protection for the first and second row seats; and Personal Safety System, a suite of seven safety technologies, including dual-stage front airbags for the driver and front seat passenger, side airbags and a front passenger sensor system
Warranty: Limited 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain, 5-year/60,000 mile roadside assistance