First Drive

FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Ford Edge

Ford resets the bar in midsize CUV segment with all-new Canadian-built Edge

2015 Ford Edge

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – Choices in the midsize crossover segment were limited when Ford introduced its Edge in 2006 as a 2007 model. The lone competitor was Nissan’s stylish Murano and the Edge resonated immediately with consumers, who bought this new CUV entry in numbers that had Ford bean-counters smiling.

Today, however, the marketplace has become crowded with competitors such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Dodge Journey. So Ford decided if it wanted to regain its edge in this growing segment it needed to start fresh with an all-new iteration.

New from the ground up

The sporty 2015 Edge is indeed new from the ground up. It’s not a makeover. But the traits that endeared the current generation to so many buyers, such as the short hood and angled rear window, have been retained and massaged without completely discarding its roots.

At first glance, you may not really think there’s much change, but look longer and closer and there’s no question this is a new Edge.

Built on an entirely new platform, it’s 99 millimetres longer than the current model – 4,778 mm overall – and the wheelbase has been stretched 22.9 mm to 2,850. The width is almost identical but the height has increased 33 mm.

Sporty Character

More noticeably, the proportions are better, with the bulky look of the first generation replaced by a shape that’s longer and leaner, thanks in part to sculpted side panels that replace the original slab-sided shell. The exterior changes emphasize the sporty character of this vehicle.

The nose has a new look with Ford’s three-bar corporate grille, but the Edge version is unique in the family as the grille flows directly into the headlight assembly with no painted surface separating the two components. Designers wanted folks to see that nose approaching and immediately recognize it as an Edge – and that goal has been achieved.

The windshield is positioned at an aggressive angle and the rear end has a more refined, “edgier” design. A new LED taillight system stretches across the rear liftgate.

Roomier cabin

Inside, the cabin has been completely redesigned as well. The door panels, for example, are more sculpted than before, with more use of soft-touch materials. Improved craftsmanship and attention to detail, such as trimming exposed painted surfaces with hard plastic, result in a more premium look.

The instrument panel sweeps from either side into a centre stack and console, with plenty of new storage slots and cubbyholes. The seats are well bolstered, providing good support on lengthy drives as well as when the driving tempo is amped up to more sporty levels.

Overall, the interior is roomier, with total passenger volume increased by 156 litres. Cargo volume has also changed significantly, with 127 litres more available space for stuff behind the rear seat (1110 litres in total). Flip the split rear bench forward and the cargo volume increases to an impressive 2,078 litres.

Improved dynamics

There’s a noticeable improvement in this Edge’s dynamics – its handling, braking and steering have been upgraded to meet the high standards the global market demands. (This Oakville, Ontario-built vehicle, including right-hand drive and diesel-powered overseas versions, will be sold in 100 global markets.)

The Edge proved more than capable of being playful during several hours of driving on a variety of road surfaces in the open Arizona countryside.

The body structure has been strengthened with the use of more high-strength steel, resulting in a 26% improvement against bending forces and a 14% increase against twisting forces, creating a solid foundation.

New suspensions front and rear – a revamped MacPherson strut system up front and a completely new rear multi-link arrangement with coil springs and a 23-millimetre anti-roll bar, a setup typically found on more upscale vehicles – give the Edge great poise on the highway.

Even at higher speeds, it would track through curves with no evidence of body lean, while the ride was firm but comfortable.

Sport model

On the Sport model, the suspension has been tweaked with 15% stiffer anti-roll bars front and rear, larger rear monotube dampers and 10% thicker coil springs to deliver an even firmer ride and tighter handling.

In fact, I preferred the Sport’s stepped-up handling dynamics over the base version. It felt so secure, so well planted, without compromising ride quality.

The 2015 Edge also gets larger brakes and a new electric-assisted power steering system that improves steering feel by 30% and reduces parking effort by the same amount. I had no complaints here with either system – the brakes had a solid feel while the steering was precise and took a steady set when the Edge was pushed through sweeping curves.

The new Edge also gets a console-mounted electronic parking brake as standard equipment.

Added acoustical glass in the windshield and front doors, as well as additional sound-deadening materials and improved door seals resulted in a very quiet cabin, even at speed. The intrusion of road and wind noise was nearly non-existent, as was any evidence of vibration or harshness.

New technologies

Perhaps the biggest advances with this new Edge are its suite of standard and available technological features to enhance the driving experience. It’s loaded with the latest in automotive technologies.

Several features are carried over from the present model. They include active grille shutters to enhance aerodynamics and improve fuel efficiency; a rear-view camera that  is standard on all trim levels; available blind-spot and cross-traffic alert systems, remote start and Ford’s signature SYNC infotainment/connectivity technologies with MyFord Touch. 

For 2015, however, the list expands with such technologies as adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning; lane departure and lane-keeping systems; an active glove-box knee airbag and inflatable shoulder belts on the rear outboard positions.

There's also a 180-degree front camera (with a built-in lens-washing system) that gives the driver a choice of normal or wide-angle views when pulling out from places with an obstructed view, such as high snow banks or from between parked vehicles.

The hands-free liftgate feature that opens with the sweep of your foot has been borrowed from the new Escape.

Some of these technologies, such as the next-generation enhanced active parking assist system, are making their debut in the Ford lineup. It builds on Ford’s parallel parking system by adding technologies that can also guide a vehicle into a perpendicular parking space.

In a crowded shopping centre parking lot, for example, it will scan for an open space, then steer the vehicle into that space – the driver only needs to manipulate the speed and gear selection (forward or reverse) during the manoeuvre. Likewise, the parallel system not only steers the Edge into the parking spot, but will also guide it out as well.

Two new engines

There are two new engines available under the hood for 2015. The standard powertrain is Ford’s first application of its new 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger. Its output of 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque is a significant improvement over the 2.0-litre four that’s available in the current model.

In fact, it is capable of towing up to 1,588 kg(3,500 lb) and is now available with all-wheel drive. In my drive here, it proved to be more than adequate, delivering good throttle response and sufficient power in reserve for overtaking and merging manoeuvres.

The other newbie in the engine lineup is a 2.7-litre EcoBoost V-6 with twin turbochargers. It’s based on the 2.7-litre engine introduced this year in the F-150 pickup, but the Edge’s transverse mounting is a first.

This new application is viable thanks to the very compact structure of the engine. It features a design with roots in Ford’s Power Stroke diesel lineup – the block is a composite, with the core comprised of the same compacted graphite iron (CGI) used in the 6.7-litre Power Stroke truck engine.

The CGI cylinder block is fitted into a die-cast aluminum shell that stiffens the structure without adding fuel-sapping weight. A composite oil pan completes this unique, lightweight engine package.

The output is impressive – 315 horsepower with peak torque of 350 lb-ft coming in at just 2,750 rpm. Ford says this engine shaves a full second off 0-96 km/h acceleration times compared to the previous V-6 engine.

On the road, it certainly felt stout, smoothly getting the Edge up to highway speeds (and beyond) with seemingly little effort. It cruised effortlessly, yet reacted impressively when urged to accelerate for passing and merging.

This engine is well suited for the sportier Sport model – and that’s the only model in which it’s available. The Sport package also includes all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

Carry-over V-6

For buyers who prefer a naturally aspirated V-6, the double-overhead camshaft, 24-valve 3.5 V-6 is carried over from the current generation. Fitted with port injection, it is capable of operating on flex fuel, making it an attractive option for the global market.

All three engines are rated to run on 87 octane gasoline and the only transmission available is Ford’s SelectShift six-speed automatic. The transmission features both drive and sport modes and paddle shifters are standard across all four trim levels – the base SE, midrange SEL, premium Titanium (a first for Edge) and the Sport.

The 2015 Ford Edge will be available in dealers’ showrooms this spring, with pricing starting at $31,999 for the base SE with front-wheel drive. The SEL with front-wheel drive starts at $35,099 and the Titanium FWD starts at $39, 199. Opting for all-wheel drive adds $2,000 to all trim levels, except the Sport, which starts at $45,199. Freight is an additional $1,690 on all models.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Price Range: $31,999 (SE FWD) to $45,199 (Sport AWD); delivery additional $1,690

Engines:

2.0-litre EcoBoost twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder, 245 hp, 275 lb-ft torque

2.7-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, 315 hp, 350 lb-ft torque

3.5L Ti-VCT V-6, 280 hp, 250 lb-ft torque.

Transmission: Six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle shifters standard.

Drivetrain: FWD or AWD

Fuel consumption (City/Highway/Combined):

2.0L (FWD) - 11.5/7.8/9.8 L/100 km

2.7L (AWD) - 13.6/9.8/11.9 L/100 km

3.5L (AWD) - 13.7/9.6/11.9 L/100 km

Competitors: Nissan Murano; Honda Pilot; Hyundai Santa Fe; Toyota Highlander

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