Ford's five-seat midsize crossover utility vehicle, the Edge, was introduced in 2007, and has been extremely successful, selling more than any other vehicle in the segment every year since its introduction. There were some minor modifications made to the Edge for 2009, but the 2011 model counts as a major makeover, with 60 percent of its parts and components replaced.
The 2011 Ford Edge gets fresh styling with a new grille, hood, fenders, lamps, bumper and air intakes up front, with new handles all around, new taillamps, liftgate, wheels, and exhaust system outlets at the rear. Underneath the Edge is a redone suspension and an improved braking system.
The Edge's most direct competitors in the marketplace are the Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, Nissan Murano, and Chevrolet Equinox, with a stretch to the BMW X3 for some comparisons.
Like all Ford products of recent vintage, the Edge has been made to look much, much bolder and sportier than its previous incarnations. Under the hood, there is more power from both its basic V6 engine and the upgraded and uprated Sport V6. Later in the year, a new base engine will be introduced on the Edge and other models, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, variable intake and exhaust cam timing, under the EcoBoost name, which up to now was used on V6 engines only.
The Edge will be the first new Ford vehicle to reach the marketplace with the MyFordTouch option. This system is an improvement on Ford's existing Sync voice-activated communications technology. It uses twin five-way thumb switches mounted on the steering wheel spokes, two 4.5-inch LED display screens flanking the speedometer in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch LED display screen at the top center of the instrument panel with a four-zone color-coding system, and a panel of flat touch buttons below it. The thumb switches, and the screen control climate, sound system, telephone, navigation and an enormous variety of information functions including turn-by-turn directions, sports scores, fuel prices, movie listings, dining, and even horoscopes, using a new list of up to 10,000 voice commands where the previous version only understood about 300.
On our test drive we noticed the increased power from the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, which has been revised for 2011, along with the speedy crispness of the 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine sounds strong in the lower gears, throaty and authoritative. Yet while cruising on the highway in top gear, the cabin is very quiet, making it easy to carry on a conversation.
Brakes are much improved, with much better pedal feel, and none of the mushiness in the previous generation.
For 2011, Edge has been given a substantial cosmetic and content makeover, a major makeover, with 60 percent of its parts and components replaced. That means a new grille, hood, fenders, lamps, bumper and air intakes up front, with new handles all around, new taillamps, liftgate, wheels, and exhaust system outlets at the rear.
The Sport model has a tuxedo black grille and lower intakes, a front spoiler, body-colored handles, rocker extensions, different exhaust tips, aluminum alloy pedal covers, 22-inch chrome wheels and big tires, MyFordTouch, and a 305-horsepower V6 engine that is exclusive to this model. This is essentially the same engine that comes in the base Mustang, and gives the Sport version to most power in the class.
There is nothing much left of the previous Edge's interior decor. The instrument panel, seat trims, door panels and door pockets have all been redesigned for more comfort and utility.
It's a crossover utility vehicle, so the front passenger seat folds flat, and each half of the second seat folds flat independently. The rear seat also reclines for additional passenger comfort. With this scheme, the driver can haul objects up to eight feet long on the right side of the cabin.
The instrument panel, center stack, switches and controls have all been redone for the 2011 models, and there are essentially two different approaches. For the SE and SEL versions, the instrument panel has a single 4.5-inch LED screen and a package of analog instruments along with a set of mechanical switches and controls in the center console and center stack.
Standard on the Limited and Sport and optional on the SEL is a completely new instrument panel, center console, flat-panel center stack and display screen for a new system called MyFordTouch.
MFT is an advance on Ford's existing Sync voice-activated communications technology that uses two five-way thumb switches mounted on the steering wheel spokes, two 4.5-inch LED display screens on either side of the big speedometer in the instrument cluster, an 8-inch LED display screen at the top center of the instrument panel with a four-zone color-coding system, and a panel of flat touch buttons below it. MFT, the thumb switches, and the screen combine to control climate, sound system, telephone, navigation and an enormous variety of information functions including turn-by-turn directions, sports scores, fuel prices, movie listings, dining, and even horoscopes, using a new list of up to 10,000 voice commands.
As for storage, the capacity of the Edge remains the same, 32.2 cubic feet behind the second seat, 68.9 cubic feet with the second seat folded flat.
There will be two engines for the Edge at the start of production. The base V6 a 3.5-liter double-overhead cam, 4-valve engine with variable cam timing, rated at 285 horsepower and 253 foot-pounds of torque. The Sport version will come only with a larger and much more powerful 3.7-liter version of the same architecture with 305 horsepower and 285 foot-pounds of torque.
The 6-speed transmission comes with a ordinary shifter on the SE model, with a SelectShift manual-control shifter on the SEL and Limited models, and with SelectShift and wheel-mounted paddle shifters on the Sport version. Electronically controlled part-time all-wheel-drive, which adds torque to the rear tires as needed, is optional on all models.
Although we drove several different models of the 2011 Edge, including the hot Sport, we settled on a well-equipped, well-optioned Limited version for our long drive experience. The first thing you notice is the additional horsepower and torque of the revised 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the speedy crispness of the 6-speed automatic's shifting. The engine sounds strong in the lower gears, throaty and authoritative, but in sixth gear cruising, the cabin is very, very quiet, and speech intelligibility around the cabin is excellent.
Ford has also fixed what we thought was a deficient braking system on the earlier models. Almost everything in the braking system has been upgraded, and the feel at the pedal, where it counts, is vastly improved. You feel the start of deceleration much earlier in the pedal travel, and the braking force is stronger and more linear than it was before. All the mushiness and indecision has been taken out of the brake pedal.
A trailer sway control system is tied into the traction and yaw control systems, to make towing up to 3500 pounds a lot easier because the trailer isn't constantly moving from side to side back there.
Ford has done a very good job up updating what was already a winner. The 2011 Ford Edge accelerates quicker, it brakes harder and more progressively, it's measurably quieter on the highway than the previous version, and its onboard electronics and entertainment systems are clearly the best in the industry in terms of capability and ease of use. It's very cool to look at, and the Sport version is the quickest CUV for the money in the segment, with the biggest, showiest tires and wheels. The SEL, the highest volume model, is equipped and priced in a segment sweet spot. Highly recommended for your shopping list.
Jim McCraw filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Nashville, Tennessee.