2011 Ford Edge Limited FWD Road Test Review

Russ Heaps - CAP staff
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With the launch of its refreshed 2011 Edge, Ford reinforces its strong presence in the midsized CUV segment. Initially landing in showrooms as a 2007 model, the 2011 model marks the first significant makeover for Ford's wildly popular crossover. Humbling much of the competition, the Edge has outsold every other CUV since its launch in late 2006. In Canada, Ford pushed 12,060 (89,000 in the U.S.) Edge units over the curb in 2009. For comparison, Chevrolet came within 301 (2,400 U.S.) sales with its Equinox, and Toyota's Highlander followed another 6,922 (3,000 U.S.) units behind that.

Few aspects of the 2011 Edge escaped at least some degree of tinkering. In a few areas, such as engines and interior furnishings, sweeping improvements rather than mere tinkering were the order of the day.

Ford offers Edge in four flavours: SE, SEL, Limited and Sport. All but the $27,999 entry-level SE can be equipped with all-wheel drive for an additional $1,780. My test Edge was a front-wheel drive $34,661 Limited. Filling the gap between the SE and Limited is the $31,279 SEL. At the top of the trim level heap is the $39,734 Sport.

Retaining its basic shape, the 2011 Edge enjoys a revised front fascia with a bolder grille that appears to have been snatched directly from the Fusion. Also updated, the back end features subtle changes to the fascia and taillamps.

All versions except the Sport get a 285-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 as a power source. This is an updated version of last year's 3.5L V6 that delivered 265 horsepower. Not only does it produce more go, it does it more efficiently. With FWD, the revised 3.5L delivers an estimated 12.4 L/100 km in the city and 8.7 L/100 km on the highway. For reference, the outgoing V6 only achieved 9.8 L/100 km on the highway. Opting for AWD reduces fuel efficiency from the city numbers by 5% and about 7% from the highway figures.

Plenty perky, the 3.5L has more than enough oomph to pull around Edge's 1,860 kilograms. Acceleration is determined when cantering away from a red light. Granted, it won't get your heart racing, but it effortlessly maintains its place in traffic. The shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are smooth and timely. A manual-shift mode lets the driver have some input into the shift points. Engine operation is quiet.

Drivers wanting more energized performance can opt for the Sport with its 305-horsepower 3.7-litre V6 borrowed from the Mustang. Fuel economy takes a bit of a hit with the larger engine. Estimated mileage drops to 13.1 L/100 km in the city and 9.4 L/100 km on the highway. If the fuel issue is your gravest concern, however, you might want to wait for the arrival of the 2-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder promised for later this year. Ford says it will achieve 10 percent better fuel economy than a comparable V6.

As is typical of a CUV, Edge is more car than truck. Its four-wheel independent suspension is taken directly from the midsize sedan playbook. Sporting MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear, this architecture delivers a pliant, bump-absorbing ride. From the driver's seat it is easy to forget the Edge is not a sedan. The steering is responsive and the handling better than expected.

Bringing the Edge to a halt falls to disc brakes within each of the 18-inch wheels (22-inch on the Sport). Traction control, stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assist are all part of the standard safety package. Six airbags are also included in the base price of every Edge.

Ford took direct aim at vastly improving the passenger experience. Enhancements don't include simply rearranging the instrument panel, but touch nearly every nook and cranny of the cabin. Gone are the hard surface materials found on the door panels, arm rests and centre console, replaced by padded, soft-touch surfaces. More brightwork accents give the cabin a richer feel. More expensive-looking materials are used throughout. A variety of textures and colors make its interior come alive.

Passenger space is generous, housing comfortable seats. Lurking behind the 60/40 split-folding-reclining second-row seat is 0.91 cubic meters of luggage room. With that seat folded down, cargo space swells to 1.95 cubic meters. A low lift-over and a wide cargo opening make for easy loading and unloading of cargo.

Inserting the key into the ignition brings the instrument panel alive. Standard on the Limited and Sport is the new MyFord Touch. This is the all-new driver connect technology that will be included in other Ford models and works in conjunction with Ford's SYNC. Using either touch or voice commands it provides an easy avenue to media or vehicle information by accessing and scrolling through menus. With its two 10.7 cm configurable LCD screens in the instrument cluster immediately in front of the driver, along with a 20.3 cm touch screen in the center stack, this system dominates the instrument panel.

Premium audio comes from a 12-speaker, 5.1 channel surround sound Sony HD radio audio system with a large, round control knob - standard on the Limited and Sport, giving you an array of screens and controls that makes the dashboard of a BMW 7 Series seem timid by comparison.

Included among the standard equipment on even the SE are full power accessories, trip computer, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, air conditioning, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player and an auxiliary input jack.

Paying the extra money for the Limited adds a number of convenience features, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seating with eight-way power driver's seat and six-way power front-passenger seat, and rear parking sensors.

No CUV shopping effort should exclude the Edge. In the end, it may not be your first choice, but it's the one every other should be shopped against.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Ford, 2011, Edge, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999,

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