2008 Ford Edge Expert Review:Autoblog
The advent of the crossover is fully upon us, so much so that no one even snickers at the name anymore. After all, SUVs have become persona non grata to many buyers thanks to their thirsty nature in a world where "cheap gas" is a phrase that seems quaint. That said, people still like the other stuff their trucks offered, like a high riding position, all-wheel-drive, room for kids and pets, plus the capacity to haul everything from groceries to bags of mulch. Of course, minivans offered this level of utility already, but some people's aversion to them (due to perceived lameness and other reasons) has brought us to where we stand today. The crossover will do battle with the van to become the new king of the family cars, and Ford has stepped right up to the plate with a solid player in the Edge.
The Edge is here at a time when the bread-and-butter Explorer is seeing sales tank and the Freestar minivan has gone, unlamented, to the big junkyard in the sky. So, there's obviously an opportunity here and with Edge, Ford's looking to make the most of it. Our tester was a loaded-to-the-gills Edge SEL Plus AWD, and it made friends and influenced people during its stay. The Edge draws you in with its excellent exterior styling. Not oversized but not small in any sense, the CUV's appearance is contemporary and pleasing to the eye -- a success from front to back. The short overhangs, bulging fenders and rakish glass angles fore and aft give it an athletic, muscular stance. There's nothing shy about how this people-mover presents itself to onlookers. The Redfire clearcoat finish didn't hurt, either, as the pretty color really stood out no matter where the car was parked.
The nose features the best implementation of the automaker's three-bar corporate grille, a formidable swath of chrome with a big blue oval in the middle that proves Ford hasn't exhausted the world's supply of the shiny stuff with the '07 Navigator. Immediately below the grille, a pair of secondary openings help the Edge breathe while also breaking up the substantial amount of real estate in front. The headlamps feature stubby little wraparound offshoots that house the indicators and side markers, and a set of foglights in bright metallic housings add some zip to the otherwise blacked-out lower fascia.
Studying the Edge from the side illustrates how small the front and rear overhangs really are. Despite its role as a paved-roads-only machine, this gives it a rough-and-tumble look that some SUVs would be glad to have (we're talking to you, Explorer). Ford keeps Edge from looking overly slab-sided by employing flared fenders that seamlessly merge into an accent bulge running the length of the doors and by blacking out the rocker panels. Optional 18" chrome wheels look good, add sparkle and fill the wheel wells nicely. They do add $750 onto the sticker price, though. The standard-equipment 17s eschew the bling, but are stylish nonetheless. Painted 18-inchers are also available, and at $395, they represent a nice compromise choice. One thing that really needs to be put to pasture is the numeric entry keypad Ford still places on the door. Interesting 20 years ago, this relic looks completely out of place on a modern vehicle, especially in an age where it has been long obviated by better keyless entry technology. Enough already.
In back, Ford keeps things simple. The taillamps don't intrude onto the rear hatch, which is adorned with standard badging (Edge, SEL, and AWD) and topped off by a trailing-edge roof spoiler. Dual exhaust tips poke through the cutouts in the rear bumper, but they're tiny. Larger ones would look more proportional and better overall, but we're nitpicking at this point. This is a handsome, well-executed design that drew praise from both men and women during its visit with us.
Opening the door presents a spacious interior with leather-covered seating surfaces. The dash in the tester had sage green accents, and that color, in a nice detail touch, was also used in the contrast stitch adorning the leather seats. Speaking of the seats, they're plenty comfortable no matter where you plop down your posterior. Legroom in back is good, and the second-row bench also reclines. If there are just two rear-seat passengers, a center armrest containing a pair of cupholders can be flipped down for them.
Adding to the passenger compartment's spacious feeling is the optional panoramic Vista Roof. It is, in a word, awesome -- easily the Edge's "killer app." It adds a not-insignificant $1,395 to the bottom line, but in return, a pair of large glass panels let a ridiculous amount of daylight into the cabin. Additionally, the forward pane tilts up or slides rearward to create a massive 27"-by-29" opening over the front seats. Bond could eject like 3 bad guys at once through this thing. It's got a sizable fabric wind deflector that deploys at the leading edge, which reduces wind buffeting and noise very effectively. It's no convertible, obviously, but it makes for a really nice open-air experience. On especially hot days, you can crank up the A/C and close the power sunshades (there are two) to prevent the interior from turning into an Easy-Bake Oven. Maybe I was just used to the openness all the glass created, but I'll admit to feeling a little closed-in with the shades in place, despite the otherwise ample space surrounding me. If you don't opt for the glass roof, you can add rear-seat entertainment w/ DVD for the same price. Edge buyers who want the kid pacification system and the trick roof are out of luck, though. Perhaps Ford should consider a headrest-mounted system down the line, which would let folks have their cake and eat it, too.
Unfortunately, there are letdowns inside as well. The door panels carry on the two-tone theme but use a hefty amount of hard plastic -- think Little Tykes playset here. They're not very aesthetically pleasing, but the upside is that they should be easy to clean when the kids invariably mess them up by kicking them with dirty shoes, dropping food or spilling drinks. This is what the father-of-two in me immediately thought, even if that wasn't Ford's intent. The IP is clean and uncluttered, with easy-to-read gauges tucked under a compact hood, and an organized center stack/console unit. Again, however, the materials used simply don't look and feel as polished as what you'll find in the Edge's numerous competitors. Tall, chrome-trimmed heating and cooling vents are positioned at each end of the dash, and a second pair bookends the stereo/nav/HVAC cluster in the middle.
The Edge's center stack is well-arranged and easy to use, highlighted by its premium audio/navigation unit with its bright, large screen. The radio sounded great, but Ford's insistence on using buttons for tuning is frustrating. We prefer GM's use of dials for this rudimentary function on most of its stereo systems. The rest of the controls in the stack were standard partsbin stuff, and we had no complaints. The silver plastic trim piece that surrounds all those controls incorporates a puzzling (and pointless) dark horizontal line pattern that cheapens its appearance unnecessarily. The center console is well-sorted, with a pair of useful cupholders, a coin/stuff tray, a massive, reconfigurable storage bin, and the same meaty pistol-grip automatic transmission shifter you'll find in the Navigator and other Ford trucks.
That shifter is mated to Ford's newest tranny (co-developed with GM), which has six forward gears and is mated to the Oval's new 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. This combination is now finding its way into a host of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. The V6 moves the Edge along quite adeptly. Acceleration is adequate for a vehicle of its mass (the portly Edge tips the scales at 4282+ lbs with AWD), so there's no need to worry about wheezing into highway merges.
After my wife gave the CUV several approving looks on the initial walkaround, we installed the kiddie seats in the rear bench with no problems (we did one with LATCH, the other using the belt). Into those seats went the kids, we clambered into the front, and away to Costco we went. 90 minutes (and around 180 bucks) later, we returned with the storage area laden with food, diapers, and all the other usual club-store purchases. The area behind the back seats offers over 32 cubic feet of storage -- plenty of room for most shopping trips, and if you leave the kids at home, the cargo area becomes pretty cavernous (69.6 cubic ft.) with the second row flipped down (the power assist here is a nice touch). One omission that struck me as odd was the lack of a power rear liftgate,
even as an option. With my son in one arm and a bag in the other, it would have been nice to be able to click the fob to get to the stuff in back, instead of having to drop one (the bag lost out) to manually open it. Ford has corrected this by offering the feature on the 2008 Edge models. Good call.
No one had any complaints about the overall ride quality, which is a lot more comfortable than what you'll find in many of the SUVs Edge is surely siphoning sales from. That said, you can still summon up pronounced roll if you push the car, but the reality is that most Edge drivers will probably stay well within its limits as they carry out their daily routines, shuttling the kids to and fro and running assorted errands. On my daily highway drive to work it was a fine partner, too. It's a nice cruiser at speed, and when the inevitable stop-and-go stuff arrived, it provided a comfortable, airy capsule in which to enjoy the Sirius-provided hair metal as I whiled away the time. The AWD system was never really put to the test, as it just wasn't sloppy out while the car was with us. There was still snow on the ground from winter's last-gasp St. Patrick's Day visit up here in the Northeast (hence the white stuff in the pictures), but the roads (and the weather) were all clear by the time the Edge paid its visit.
At $36,850, the fully-optioned Edge faces competitors in its class from both Detroit and foreign ports of call that can match (or beat) that price while offering equally attractive features. Still, few can top its snazzy look, which separates it from much of the drab competition and draws people in. We like the Edge but are disappointed that the interior doesn't quite live up to the high standard set by its external appearance. If the Ford Flex shown in New York tells us anything, it's that Ford has the ability to offer customers a more compelling in-cabin experience in terms of trim and materials used. Work some of that magic on the Edge, and it'll be an even more well-rounded, appealing machine. As it stands today, it's still a winning first effort on many fronts, and that's showing on the sales charts.
All photos Copyright ©2007 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.
Click the photos for hi-res images.
Ford makes a compelling case about the marketability of the Edge. Their newest crossover seems to fit every demographic you can throw at it. Whether its aging baby-boomers who have a hard time with ingress and egress, recent empty nesters who are ditching their SUV in favor of a smaller, more fuel efficient, yet commanding vehicle and then there's me. Someone who Ford describes as 'Phil.' Phil is an active professional, living an active lifestyle, in an active, urban environment. The Edge seeks to be all things to all people, but a lingering question is always hanging in the air. What's really new about the Edge?
The design is starkly striking. The wheels are pushed to the very ends of the vehicle, the overhangs are short and the steeply raked windshield, coupled with a low ride height give it a sleek, yet deliciously chunky appearance. The corporate DNA can be seen throughout the vehicle, with the chromerific three-bar grille getting much of the attention, it's easy to overlook subtle cues from the D-pillar and beltline that are perfectly Fusionesque.
The 17-inch chromers were a bit too bling for some tastes, but tied in nicely with the other metallic accoutrements. Thankfully, in addition to an 18-inch upgrade, brushed aluminum wheels are an option.
Upon entrance of the vehicle, no less than five textures greet the occupants, most of which have a modern, up-scale feel. Some are good, particularly the ribbed metallic dash console that kinks downward where the shifter resides. A couple cubbies provided ample room for mobile phones and iPods, including a cavernous center console that Ford claims would fit a "small laptop." On the MP3 player tip, the Edge comes standard with a 1/8th-inch jack that routes sound into the head unit and has a well-engineered notch that allows the cable to protrude out the side of the console and into waiting, if distracted, hands.
The steering wheel is adorned with all the prerequisite buttons to control the stereo volume and inputs and, like most of the materials, is appealing to touch. Other surfaces however, weren't quite as well funded, with flimsy plastic and Fusion parts-bin pilfered pieces finding their way onto the doors. On the SEL-equipped testers, leather was standard and over the course of the day, ass numbing was kept at a minimum.
Most of the interior is hard to get excited about, with all the expected legroom and creature comforts present and accounted for. The one piece of aesthetic and engineering glory is the Vista Roof ™ moon/sunroof setup that extends far beyond the front passenger's heads, breaks for four-inches, then continues to cover the rear-seat occupants. Copious quantities of sunlight enter the cabin without the much-dreaded "greenhouse" effect cooking fellow passengers. Once opened, noise is kept at a minimum until the wind really begins to kick up. If Ford's designers and engineers nailed anything on the Edge the Vista Roof is it.
Once behind the wheel and underway, the sheer size of the Edge begins to make itself known. Navigating the streets of San Francisco is not as overwhelming a task as it may be in an Expedition, but it certainly ain't small. Knowing where the right front tire is tracking can be a bit of a challenge at first, but after a half-hour or so of navigating the urban confines of S.F. proper, faith begins to take over and the huge footprint of the Edge becomes manageable.
Out of the city and onto the twisties of the North Bay, the soft-sprung suspension leaves a bit to be desired in the corner-carving department. Although squat, dive and body roll is kept at a minimum, 'sporty' is not the word that comes to mind. Steering input isn't anything to write home about either, but it turns when asked and feels as good as expected. Since road molesting ability is probably not on the list of 'must haves' of 'Phil' or any other of the demographics Ford outlined, the ride is suitable for the daily urban and suburban slogs that the Edge will find itself in most of the time.
The newly developed 265 HP, 3.5-liter V6 powering the front wheels or all wheels, depending on the model, was overwhelmingly underwhelming. Considering the two-plus tons it's being asked to motivate, it provides barely adequate grunt no matter where you mash the carpet in the rev-range. However, when this new mill finds its way into the MKS and Fusion, it will find a soul mate (An SVT variant of the Edge is also rumored). The new six-speed transmission is far and away one of the best Ford has offered to date, with smooth shifts that are progressive and seamless. Downshifts take a bit of preplanning, with a few ticks between application and thrust, and the lack of anything between 'D' and 'L' is criminal for any transmission with that many ratios.
As a whole, the Edge has the ability to define the crossover segment and usher in a new era of American motoring. The CUV market is the fastest growing segment in the U.S., with Ford expecting crossovers to eclipse SUV sales by the end of the year. With that in mind, Ford has put a lot of eggs in the Edge basket and if consumers grant it a chilly reception, the Blue Oval might be in a world of hurt. And that's the rub. With so many other vehicles that could be considered CUVs, does the Edge offer anything different? Overall, no. It's a perfectly average vehicle, but the Edge neatly slots in between the CR-V's and RDX's of the world and in doing so, it creates a market segment that stands to redefine what average buyers require. Even if their name isn't Phil.
New Car Test Drive
A big crossover that's more efficient than SUVs.
The Ford Edge is a midsize crossover sport utility that offers better fuel economy and road manners than traditional truck-based SUVs such as the Ford Explorer.
The Edge handles better than truck-based SUVs while offering almost as much cargo space. It's 500 pounds lighter than an Explorer and enjoys an edge of two to three miles per gallon in fuel economy and offers similar advantages over other traditional SUVs. Benefiting from all-wheel drive and a fully independent suspension, the Edge is easier to control than a truck-based SUV in the snow or on wet, slippery roads. Getting in and out of it is easier, too. Yet it gives up nothing in passenger and cargo space. In fact, the back seats in the Edge are roomier than those in the Explorer, a benefit of its design.
The Edge is not small. Considered a midsize crossover utility vehicle, the Edge competes with the Nissan Murano, Toyota Highlander and CUVs, all of which are larger than their slippery styling suggests.
We found the Edge roomy and comfortable with fully foldable seats for big cargo carrying. It drives well, with good performance from a modern V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Edge has a contemporary look we find appealing. We like its bold chrome grille. We think it'll please buyers coming from SUVs who want a rugged look with room for the family and assorted stuff. And we think it'll satisfy buyers moving from a sedan who will find they haven't given up much in the way of comfort, convenience and driving dynamics.
Ford Edge was introduced as a new product for the 2007 model year; the 2008 Edge offers more equipment and a new Limited model. Ford Sync communications and entertainment system is available on the 2008 Edge, allowing the driver to change radio stations and make phone calls using voice commands. The available navigation system adds voice activation, the driver's window now powers up or down with one touch, and a new interior appearance package has red seating surfaces with contrasting stitching. A power liftgate, a universal garage door opener, and 20-inch wheels are available.
The 2008 Ford Edge comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Limited. All models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 265 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is available for all models.
Edge SE ($25,565) and SE AWD ($27,315) come equipped with cloth upholstery, driver's seat lumbar adjustment, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split second-row seat, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, rear spoiler, and P235/65R17 tires on alloy wheels. A six-disc CD changer ($245) is optional.
Edge SEL ($27,560) and SEL AWD ($29,310) add fog lamps, six-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, keyless keypad entry; 6CD, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a vehicle information center. A Premium Package ($1675) upgrades the SEL with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, interior air filter, heated front seats, memory for the driver's seat and driver's exterior mirror, universal garage door opener, and heated exterior mirrors with courtesy lights. Options include an upgraded sound system ($385) and a Seating Flexibility Package ($985) that adds leather upholstery, a flat-folding six-way power adjustable front passenger seat, and a second-row split folding rear seat. Available for both SE and SEL models are Ford Sync entertainment and communications system ($395) and P245/60R18 tires on alloy wheels ($295). These tires are also offered on chromed alloy wheels for the SEL ($750).
The new Edge Limited ($30,555) and Limited AWD ($32,305) come with leather upholstery, Ford's Audiophile sound system with nine speakers, Ford Sync communications and entertainment system, rear park assist, heated front seats, flat-folding six-way power adjustable front passenger seat, memory for the driver's seat and driver's exterior mirror, second-row reclining and power-folding split seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, universal garage door opener, interior air filter, heated mirrors, and P245/60R18 tires on chromed alloy wheels. Limited options include an Interior Appearance Package ($525) with red leather seat inserts with contrast stitching; P245/50R20 tires on alloy wheels ($895); towing package ($395); navigation system ($1995); Sirius satellite radio ($195); power liftgate ($490); rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1295); roof rails ($95). The Vista Roof dual sunroof ($1395); the portion over the front seats works like a typical sunroof, though larger, while a fixed glass panel spans the second row of seats; power-operated cloth shades can close off both sections.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact air bags for the front seats, side curtain airbags with rollover protection for both rows of seating, anti-lock brakes, traction control, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Rear park assist is available and can help alert the driver to objects or people behind the vehicle when backing up.
The Edge is bigger than it looks in photos. The reason is that it has a wide track and a long wheelbase with short overhangs. Checking the specs you'll find the Edge is eight inches shorter than the Ford Explorer yet its wheelbase is barely two inches shorter. Perhaps more important, the track on the Edge is over four inches greater while the overall width is just one inch greater. What does all this mean? (The track is the distance between the left and right wheels. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear wheels.)
The wide track and long wheelbase relative to the body make the Edge look solid: The four wheels are near each corner, making it appear firmly planted on the road. The long wheelbase and wide track are not just about looks; they make for a more stable vehicle because the majority of the mass is inside the wheels. A go-kart is the ultimate expression of this look. We're not suggesting the Edge looks like a go-kart, but its aggressive stance makes it stand apart from the tippy look of traditional SUVs with relatively narrow track measurements and massive front and rear overhangs.
The Edge features Ford's newly rediscovered bold, American design. The big chrome grille is placed well forward and has wide chrome slats that merge into the relatively small headlights at each side. The high hood is short as the windshield rakes forward more like a sports car or modern minivan.
Despite having a relatively high waist line with shallow side windows, the Edge does not appear as stubby as photographs sometimes suggest. The sporty look is helped by pronounced fender flares and large wheels. The rear tailgate slopes quite significantly and is nicely rounded, avoiding the truck-like rear tailgates found on many SUVs. We found the rear design to be a cross between a Lexus RX and a BMW X3, which cannot be a bad thing.
The Vista Roof adds expansive twin glass moonroofs that cover the whole roof, providing all passengers with a clear view of the sky. There is only a foot-wide panel between the front and rear panels that is not transparent.
The Edge combines a stylish, comfortable interior with lots of cargo-hauling utility.
Front-seat occupants find a generous amount of room, largely due to the vehicle's generous width. There is a large center console with a storage box big enough for a laptop computer. Two decent cupholders reside alongside the substantial shifter. The center stack is angled outward to make it easy to reach the large knobs for the climate and entertainment controls. The Interior Appearance Package adds red seat inserts and contrasting red stitching that combine to give the interior a sporty look. The instrument pod has four gauges well recessed in their individual binnacles.
The Ford Sync communications and entertainment system can be controlled via voice commands or dashboard buttons. It can recognize Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, access their phonebooks, and play calls and read text messages through the speakers. It also has a USB interface to connect with iPods and other MP3 players (it will charge an iPod). To issue a voice command, the driver hits a steering wheel button and speaks the command. Occupants can tell the system to play a specific artist, album or track stored on an MP3 player. While Sync is nicely integrated, we've found it takes time to learn the voice commands, and there may be some frustration until the system is mastered.
The rear seats offer a decent amount of leg room; in fact, there's two inches more here than you'll find in the larger Explorer. Headroom is also reasonable in the rear, even with the optional Vista Roof. The rear-center passenger even gets more room than normal in a vehicle of this size, thanks to the wide track. Getting in and out is easier thanks to rear wheels that are placed well back and thus allow for less intrusion from the wheel wells.
Carrying cargo is an area where the Edge excels. The tailgate lifts to reveal a wide opening. With the rear seats are in place there's a reasonable amount of cargo room, but pressing a button automatically reclines the rear seats to open up 69.0 cubic feet of storage space on a nearly flat floor. Furthermore, the front passenger seatback can be folded forward to provide a mostly level floor space for long objects all the way to the dashboard. The rear seatback splits 60/40 for increased versatility and the back reclines several degrees on all models for improved rear-seat comfort.
The Ford Edge handles reasonably well, given its considerable size and weight. The Edge is based off the same platform as the Ford Fusion and the Mazda6, regarded as one of the better handling midsize sedans. So the Edge starts life with a good basic structure. Having its wheels out near the corners aids stability and handling. Naturally, the higher center of gravity prevents the Edge from being as nimble as a sports sedan, but unless you need to drive fast through the twisties, you'll find it is perfectly adequate with less body roll than a regular SUV.
The Edge shares its platform and engine with the Mazda CX-9 crossover, as well. Ford says it purposely designed the Edge to deliver a slightly softer ride than that of the CX-9. Those who have driven both vehicles concur with this assessment.
Ford's 3.5-liter V6 engine has variable valve timing and is much smoother and more refined than its previous V6s. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission developed with General Motors. We found the engine produced a good range of power at all speeds and the transmission shifted smoothly. We would rate the performance as middle of the pack: it's neither a barnburner nor a slug.
We found the rack-and-pinion steering provided good feedback with precise control. We tested both the optional 18-inch wheels and the 20-inch wheels available on the 2008 model and found the latter did not produce a harsh ride, despite the larger, heavier wheels and shorter tire sidewall. So, buyers can opt for the flash without worrying about paying a hefty price in ride quality.
The Edge we drove had all-wheel drive, which helped make the car more sure-footed. The all-wheel-drive system is simple, with a viscous coupling in the middle of the driveshaft that constantly alters the power to the front or rear depending on the need at any given time.
The Edge is not designed for off-road use yet it has a decent ground clearance of eight inches. Ford even specifies its approach angle (16 inches), departure angle (24.5 inches), and ramp break-over angle (17 degrees), specifications usually reserved for off-road vehicles. We think the Edge will be fine on unpaved roads. We drove a 2008 Edge through snow and ice in Chicago and found it handled quite well thanks to the independent suspension and all-wheel drive.
The four-wheel disc brakes worked well, although we did not get the chance to try them with a fully loaded vehicle. Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability control is standard on all models. It operates via the ABS to control wheel slippage when the driver pushes the vehicle beyond the limit in slippery conditions or in emergency avoidance situation on a dry highway.
The Ford Edge offers striking styling. The Edge is a far more efficient vehicle than a traditional SUV. Opt for all-wheel drive and you've got a great all-year-round car as well. Some criticize the Edge for not having three rows of seats but that fact makes for a much more practical and pleasant five-seater. In short, if you aren't towing heavy trailers or frequently driving over rugged terrain, the Ford Edge is a smarter choice than a traditional, truck-based SUV.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent John Rettie test drove the Ford Edge in and around San Francisco. Correspondent Kirk Bell contributed to this report from Chicago.
Ford Edge SE ($25,565); SE AWD ($27,315); SEL ($27,560); SEL AWD ($29,310); Limited ($30,555); Limited AWD ($32,305).
Options As Tested
Vista roof ($1,395), navigation system ($1,995), Sirius Satellite Radio ($195).
Ford Edge Limited ($32,305).
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