It’s barely 7 a.m., and the anticipated 80-something-degree heat hasn’t yet burned through the cool desert morning. New Ford Edges are on the street in front of our hotel, literally parking themselves. The side panel of one white Ford Transit posed as a parking prop explains, “The 180-degree front camera … Edge can see what you can’t.” Another reads, “Your Rx for parking anxiety.” This is the future of driving, and the second-generation Ford Edge is the future of personal luxury transportation, a new-age Mercury Cougar.
Automated parallel parking has been done for years, first via Lexus and Toyota. But Ford has expanded the capabilities with models such as the 2015 Edge: It backs in for perpendicular parking spaces, as well as parallel parking, and will even help you find your way out of that space. On the road, lane-departure control keeps you between the lines. The system is adjustable, and it nudges the Edge back into the center of the lane rather than steering for you for up to 10 seconds, as some Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and Acura models do.
Let’s start with the 2015 Ford Edge Titanium with optional all-wheel drive and a new base engine. The Blue Oval says the 2.0-liter, turbo EcoBoost inline-four is pretty much new, not the 2.0 EcoBoost you may have experienced in, say, a late-model Escape. This Edge version marks the first time the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is tow-rated. It has new parts, including a new cylinder head and the twin-scroll setup, and is available with all-wheel drive for the first time in this CUV.
This engine is probably adequate for the average 2015 Ford Edge buyer. It steps out into traffic decently enough, though probably with a 0-60 mph time that might seem of a different age. On the steep uphill highway roads outside of Phoenix, it gets the job done only if you bury your right New Balance to the carpet. This engine in this CUV when equipped with front-wheel drive achieves the magic 30-mpg highway number. It’s 28 mpg in this AWD configuration, and both make 20 mpg in the city, the EPA says.
Ford provided only the two priciest trim levels for the first drive, which is honest, since this ’tweener two-row midsize CUV breaks out of the Escape/Explorer family car mold. The Titanium trim level is new for this Edge and features midlevel-quality leather, a generously padded dashboard, and stitched, leather-like door panel inserts replacing the old model’s hard plastic. There’s an acoustic glass windshield and front-side windows. The engines are extremely quiet and idle so smoothly that you’ll be double-checking the tiny tachometer. The only palpable sound seemed to be some wind noise coming off the big, rectangular sideview mirrors.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 now is the base engine in SE, SEL, and Titanium trim levels, but not in Sport. Ford moved the engine’s production from Spain to Ohio so it can charge less for the EcoBoost than it does for the 280-hp, 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6.
The V-6 is the only major carryover part from the previous Edge, which suffered from being an overweight, clumsy driver. Using more high-strength steel and other lightweight metals, the new Edge is about 50 pounds lighter than the old, and the A-pillars aren’t too thick. This CUV is based loosely on the Ford Fusion/Mondeo, with MacPherson struts up front and a rear multilink independent suspension in place of the old version’s trailing arms. A six-speed automatic is again the only transmission choice. The Edge has been added to One Ford’s European lineup, no doubt with a manual option -- but then, Europe will get a diesel option as well.
Our 2015 Ford Edge Titanium AWD 2.0-liter EcoBoost, on 20-inch Hankook all-season tires, handled fast sweepers on mountain roads like any good family CUV should. There was very little drama and very little excitement. It has Ford’s latest version of Curve Control, the product liability lawyer’s delight that so disappointed with too much intrusion when debuted in the unibody 2011 Explorer. Limited by sane speeds on public roads, Curve Control made itself known just once, and very subtly by issuing a slight course correction that registered through our backside. Ford has been tuning CC ever since it was foisted upon us; the average Edge driver will never know when it triggers.
Ride and handling are balanced nicely and feel as they should in this CUV. You won’t carve up any overly tight roads -- construction kept us off them -- and on moderately tight roads, you can maintain a brisk pace. The ride is comfortable, even if the optional 20-inch tires offer bling over comfort and low unsprung weight. The steering is dead and loose on-center, though that’s as it should be on this 68-inch-tall utility vehicle.
More expensive than even the Titanium, the Ford Edge Sport fixes some of these issues. Its 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, straight out of the most efficient aluminum F-150 and rated a healthy 315 hp and 350 lb-ft, feels like a V-8 in the Edge and without serious turbo lag. With stiffer shocks and springs, the Sport exhibits satisfyingly damped rebound on short hills and gulleys, and the steering loses that loose on-center feel. Ford says the electronic power-assisted steering is different in the Sport versus other trim levels, but surely some credit goes to the 21-inch Pirelli P Zero summer tires on our tester. They gripped the mountain curves and the short, twistier side-road diversion like we were driving a Mustang GT.
OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but the 2015 Ford Edge Sport has more than enough power, and it handles really, really well … for a tall, 4,300-or-so-pound sport-utility vehicle.
The question is: What do you want with a conveyance like this? A primary vehicle that comfortably transports your dogs, takes everything you might buy from the weekend farmers market, and is fun-ish to drive if your off-ramp to work is clear on Monday morning? Or do you want it to complement the Mustang GT or Miata or Cayman S in the other space in your garage?
In the end, the Sport model is probably worth it, because it’s just a couple grand more than the Titanium, depending how you equip it. Our preproduction Edge Titanium’s bottom line was $45,515; our preproduction Edge Sport was $46,380. Neither had optional adaptive cruise control; both had optional panoramic sunroofs. That’s getting into Audi, if not BMW, money. Though we didn’t get to drive one, we figure a mid-level, sub-$40,000 SEL version of this vastly improved Edge will prove to be the more compelling buy, especially among those who suffer parking anxiety.
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