Scottsdale, AZ – On the sun-ripened streets of Phoenix it’s easy to be conflicted. Anne Murray’s Snowbird comes to mind (yeah, I know…but it won’t leave), while memories of Arizona senator Barry Goldwater still resonate, almost twenty years after his passing. Goldwater, a pilot, had a real affection for performance; a contemporary pic of him behind the wheel showed the wheel to be that of a Firebird Trans Am. And while Ford Motor Company execs chose Scottsdale for its seasonal climate rather than its political history (which hasn’t – of late – been all that pretty), a product launch of the new Ford Edge recalls Goldwater’s affection for performance and his very real distaste for ‘going with the flow’. Ford’s 2015 Edge ups the performance ante nicely, but it remains – as it was in its first iteration – anything but a by-the-numbers SUV.
This is the first significant updating of the Edge platform since its launch in 2006 (for the 2007 model year). And while an economic downturn had yet to take place, the gas was running out of the domestic auto market. Within 90 days of joining Ford that summer, CEO Alan Mulally would pitch all of Ford’s assets against one super mortgage, working to keep Ford Motor Company independent during what he saw as a long reorganization of its structures, processes and, not incidentally, product. That first Edge shared its basic platform with Mazda’s CX-9. In that Ford is no longer affiliated with Mazda, this newest Edge rides on the same underlying structure as Ford’s newest Fusion. Notably, the Edge is much better for it.
In its first static reveal in Dearborn last summer, I was taken by how much more interesting this Edge is – at least visually – than the first. In ’06 the new Edge was clean and appropriately contemporary, but its slab-sided, two-box execution was rather lifeless, while the platform seemed competent while not offering much in the way of enthusiastic feedback. This Edge has attained an edge, both in the stamping of its new metal surfaces and the capability of an all-new platform. Where it needs to appeal to a comfort-and-feature-oriented buyer, it’s Anne Murray. And when you want a brisk ascent to cruising altitude, the d*mn thing is Goldwater!
As with most things Ford, the new Edge is available in four distinct trim levels. All but the top ‘Sport’ feature Ford’s 2.0 liter EcoBoost four as standard equipment, while offering a 3.5 liter normally-aspirated V6 for those unable to get their arms and/or heads around a turbocharged four. Even in base, under $30K spec the new Edge hits well above its batting average, with the aforementioned sheetmetal evoking – from our perspective – BMW’s X5, while the EcoBoost four’s 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque are just this side of visceral. To be sure, you won’t forget the 4,000 pound curb weight of the 2.0 liter-equipped Edge (slightly under with FWD, slightly more with AWD), but we were mightily impressed by its competent acceleration and relaxed cruising capability.
Inside, you sit on comfortable, supportive buckets, with ample head, leg and shoulder room for just about anyone living in fast food-infested America. This, along with a spacious backseat, is probably the significant differentiation when comparing the Edge to the smaller Ford Escape. If of average height and proportion the Escape won’t squeeze. If, however, you bat above average, you’ll enjoy the more spacious confines of the Edge. In back, know that the area behind the second seat, measuring 39 cubic feet, looks to be a small storage container relative to that offered in our ’06 Grand Cherokee. Fold the second row and, with 73 cubic feet, you have roughly twice the storage of your Ford Focus 5-door.
In addition to its space, you’ll appreciate Ford’s attention to interior detailing. You still won’t confuse it with what comes from the design studios at Audi AG, but the Ford folks are coming pretty darn close. Our almost-top-of-the-line Titanium, offering perforated leather in a saddle finish, looked to be coming from something with a $50K price point; opt for the top-of-the-line Sport and you’ll enjoy perforated suede.
Connecting the motor to the macadam is an all-independent suspension. Both FWD and AWD Edges utilize the ubiquitous MacPherson strut, while in the rear front-wheel drive variants adapt what Ford describes as an independent integral link, and AWD versions utilize an independent multi-link. In our driving we were hard pressed to identify the differences. The ride on the AWD Sport was notably firmer, but we thought that to be the lower-profile rubber appropriate to the ‘Sport’ moniker.
Beyond suspension tuning and modest (thankfully!) exterior mods, the main differentiation between Sport and its lesser brethren is its 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6. This V6 was introduced in Ford’s all-new F-150, and while tuned differently for the Edge application (it won’t, presumably, need to tow horses or hay) the thing pulls like there’s no tomorrow. With the EcoBoost V6 owners will enjoy a 70 horsepower surplus – to 315 – over the 2.0 liter four, as well as seventy-five additional foot-pounds of torque. The end result, still pushed through a six-speed auto, is almost thrilling – and certainly visceral. The downside, beyond the surcharge you’ll pay for the Sport, is the downturn in efficiency. The 2.0 liter is estimated to deliver 20 City/30 Highway, while the 2.7 will give you 17 City/24 Highway. That figure isn’t bad, of course, but neither is it great.
At the end of a morning’s drive, both my co-driver and I were thinking Ford is missing a bet by keeping the 2.7 V6 EcoBoost within the adolescent confines of the ‘Sport’ packaging. Better, we think, to give it to the more mature prospects trolling among the SEL and Titanium trim levels. Any Edge is good, but with the 2.7 it’s on the edge of great.
For another CarBuzzard take on the new 2015 Ford Edge Sport, click here.
Specifications follow on next page…