Thumbs Up: Contemporary styling, comfortable ride.
Thumbs Down: Heavy on chrome and fake-wood trim.
Buy This Car If: You’re looking for a fuel-efficient crossover that can still carry five adults.
If Goldilocks were shopping Ford’s product lineup for an SUV or crossover, there’s a good chance that she’d settle on the not-too-small-but-not-too-big Ford Edge. It’s got more interior room (and higher build quality) than the outgoing Ford Escape, yet it’s smaller than either the Explorer SUV or the Edge crossover. In fact, for the average American family with 2.4 kids and a dog, the Edge is just about the perfect size.
Last year, Edge buyers had a choice of two engines: in all but the Sport trim level, Ford fitted its 3.5 liter V-6, which produced 285 horsepower and returned 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Edge Sport buyers got the 3.7-liter V-6, shared with the Ford Mustang, which produced 305 horsepower while delivering 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
For 2012, the Edge gets a four-cylinder EcoBoost alternative that produces 240 horsepower but 270 pound-feet of torque, which is more torque than the 3.5-liter V-6. It also delivers slightly better fuel economy, coming in at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. It’s not an inexpensive option, adding $995 to the Edge’s sticker price; put another way, at current gas prices, you’ll have to drive over 60,000 miles to recover the additional cost.
For a lot of drivers, we suppose, that’s beside the point. The EcoBoost Edge does use less gas and emits less greenhouse gas, yet it drives very much like the V-6. Blindfold most drivers (not that that’s a good idea) and they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two engines. If you want to save the planet, but don’t want to compromise drivability, the Edge EcoBoost is really your best option in a midsize crossover with a blue-oval badge.
Generally speaking, we’re fans of the Edge’s exterior styling. It’s chunky proportions give it a more masculine appearance than most crossovers, and the steeply raked windshield and sloping roof give it a sportier appearance than most. Even the grille is distinctive, but whether that’s good or bad is up to you. To be honest, most Edge models wear far too much chrome for our tastes, and the black lower trim on SE, SEL and Limited models looks out of place on light-colored cars. Fortunately, the Edge Sport offers more tasteful wheels and more subdued trim, and even throws a stiffer suspension and bigger engine into the mix; if we were shopping for an Edge, it would be the Edge Sport trim level.
The inside of the Edge generally looks as good as the outside, and the premium materials used belie the Edge’s mainstream price point. The dash blends textured, soft-touch vinyl with aluminum colored trim, and, unfortunately, some of the worst-looking fake wood we’ve ever seen. In our eyes, anything at all, ranging from piano black to aluminum colored plastic, would have been a better choice, but we’re not interior stylists. If you like fake wood, the dash won’t bother you; if you don’t, we’re sure that the aftermarket has a solution.
Unlike other outlets who’ve slammed Ford’s Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment interface, we think it’s the best and most intuitive in the business. What could be simpler than color-coding touch-screen controls, which easily allow users to call up main menus for navigation, phone, entertainment or climate controls? Even better, many functions can be accessed via the steering-wheel mounted controls and information display to the right of the speedometer. Yes, Ford’s system takes some time to get used to, but we still find it significantly more intuitive than systems from the competition.
The Edge is designed to soak up highway miles, so both front and rear passenger accommodations are all-day-long comfortable. Front seats (in Limited trim models, anyway) are heated and upholstered in contrasting leather with vinyl trim. The leather seems particularly stout, and it will likely hold up to years of hard family use without wearing out.
Rear seat passengers get a decent amount of head and leg room, and the rear seat backs can be tilted for passenger comfort. Rear seats folded, the Edge gives an impressive amount of cargo room, but the rear seat backs don’t fold flat. For most cargo-hauling duties, we doubt that will pose any kind of issue.
While V-6 powered Edge models can be ordered in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, EcoBoost models come in FWD only. All engine options get mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which includes paddle shifters in Sport models. Although the EcoBoost feels as powerful as the 3.5-liter V-6 under normal driving conditions, it takes nearly nine seconds to reach 60 mph, and that’s over a second slower than non-sport V-6 models. That said, no one will buy a Ford Edge (especially the EcoBoost variant) to run stoplight to stoplight against other crossovers. Our Ford-supplied tester returned an average of 21.5 mpg in city driving during our time behind the wheel.
On the road, the Edge gives an SUV-like view of traffic ahead, but feels more like a big sedan than a truck. Highway miles are dispatched with little drama, and great outward visibility (combined with the Edge’s available blind spot monitoring system) make dicing in city traffic a breeze. Push the Edge hard, and you’ll be reminded of it’s comfort-tuned suspension and high center of gravity, but the crossover didn’t exhibit any bad habits during our time behind the wheel. We’d prefer the better-handling Edge Sport, of course, but all Edge models will deliver predictable handling, good stopping distances and reasonable acceleration. For a family-oriented crossover, you really can’t ask for more.
Ford supplied the 2012 Edge for our evaluation and review. Base price on a 2012 Ford Edge Limited is $35,740, including a destination charge of $825. Options on the vehicle tested included the $495 White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat Paint, the $995 EcoBoost engine, the $485 Vision Package (blind spot monitoring, rain sensing wipers, side mirror turn signals), the $895 Drivers Entry Package (perimeter alarm, keyless entry, push button start, power liftgate, remote start) and the $795 Voice Activated Navigation System, for an as-driven price of $39,405.
For comparison, a similarly equipped Chevrolet Traverse LTX would sticker for $41,600, while a comparable Toyota Highlander Limited would list at $41,262.