2011 Ford Edge -- First Drive
When the Ford Edge debuted in the 2007 model year, it brought a new sense of style and purpose to the crossover segment. Designed as urban/suburban on-road transportation, the Edge's style has continued to be fresh and unlike anything Toyota or Honda has offered, featuring an interior that is not only comfortable, but also upscale beyond its price point. For 2011 the Ford Edge gets a fresh design upgrade and enough technology to make the biggest geeks drool but still simple enough for the Average Joe to use.
New styling and interior for 2011 only improve upon a demonstrated formula
We really liked the old generation Ford Edge, but one thing that always struck us as incongruous was how loud the cabin was. The interior was certainly upscale so the occasional booms didn't add up. Now Ford has upgraded the interior to yet a new level and dampened the sound. A obvious focal point is the cleanly styled waterfall central stack seemingly borrowed from Volvo, and most surfaces have a soft, high-grade feel. Ford has also better integrated its technology options, such as the available Sony sound system that doesn't look like a post-factory add-on. The Limited does have some odd-looking wood-like trim, but we can forgive it when we luxuriate in the high-quality contrast-stitched leather seats.
The seats are comfortable and flexible, but some details leave us scratching our heads
The seats in all three trims we tried - SEL, Limited and Sport - were very comfortable, and of course the Limited had all the electronic bells and whistles you'd expect. The lumbar support took some time to get just right, but the fore/aft adjustment was great for both shorter and taller front-seat occupants. The rear seats offer copious amounts of legroom and have adjustable backs, which are great for those of us that don't like to be in permanent recline. The rear seats also fold forward in a 60/40 configuration allowing for storage of items up to eight-feet long. What left us scratching our heads was the combined electro-manual combination on the Limited's passenger's seat, which seemed a little odd to us. It's our belief that if you are buying the up-level trims and paying more than $30,000 for them, you should have full electric motion on both the driver's and passenger's seats.
AWD outshines FWD
The front-wheel-drive 2011 Ford Edge faced an immediate disadvantage when we drove it - pouring rain and slick roadways combined with some torque steer made the vehicle seem a little uneasy on the road. The front driver's side tire lost its grip a few times under strong acceleration. The all-wheel-drive Edge, however, felt firmly planted on the road and we enjoyed seeing the AWD display on the gauge cluster telling us when and where power was being sent to the wheels through the system, though perhaps we should've been keeping our eyes on the road.
Suspension, steering and braking are all improved
The 2011 Ford Edge has been equipped with retuned shocks and suspension, making for a comfortable but still connected-to-the-road driving experience. Sport models are even more dynamic, hugging curves but still suffering from some body roll (due in large part to the Edge's high center of gravity). The standard 22-inch tires on the Sport also make for a firmer connection to the road. Ford has also addressed the somewhat spongy brakes of the previous generation, by giving the 2011 Edge firmer, more confident stopping power (but with a hint of dive and squat upon doing so). Steering is taut and we liked the tighter turning radius - the Edge currently outperforms in this arena when compared to the Toyota Venza and Honda Crosstour.
Three new powertrains have more HP and better MPG than previous generation
Compared to the previous-generation V6, Ford has managed to produce better power and fuel economy from their newly tuned 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6. The 2010 Edge's 3.5-liter V6 managed 265 horsepower and 18/25 miles per gallon and the 2011 Edge's 3.5-liter V6 has been tuned to produce 285 horsepower and 19/27 miles per gallon - that's a 20-horsepower gain with an increase in fuel economy in both highway and city driving. The most notable ways they achieve maximum efficiency is through on-the-fly adjustment to the engine's airflow, and a fuel shutoff system that is undetectable to the driver, but cuts the fuel to the engine when torque demand is low (such as during deceleration or coasting). The 3.5-liter engine is available with a standard six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed with SelectShift steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Edge Sport gets a 3.7-liter V6 capable of producing 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and comes with the same SelectShift automatic offered on the smaller engine. Although the larger engine in the Sport pays the penalty of a few miles per gallon, the extra horsepower and torque add to the model's excitement level and will likely be appreciated by the Sport's demographic. A 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder Ecoboost engine is due out next year and we expect that it will feature best-in-class fuel economy for buyers who want to save at the pump.
Techno geeks will love all the new gizmos and upgrades
For 2011, Ford has upgraded its revolutionary SYNC system to be more sensitive to voice as well as acknowledging 10,000 commands instead of the previous version's 100 commands. In addition to the advances to SYNC, we predict that the technorati will fall in love with MYFord Touch, a new eight-inch touch-screen system that replaces traditional buttons and gauges with colorful and insightful diagrams, as well as helpful and intuitive screen points. As if SYNC and MYFord Touch weren't cool enough, Ford has also added a Premium Sony Audio System option. Seamlessly integrated into the center stack, this 10-channel, 12-speaker, 390-watt stereo plays in high definition surround sound and uses touch-sensitive switches to match the theme of the Edge's new touch screen.
"Edging" out the competition with style, quality and comfort
The 2011 Ford Edge is a solidly built, fun-to-drive crossover vehicle that we think a small family in the new-car market should definitely test drive. Plus the Ford Edge Sport is sure to please those of us that want a more interactive driving experience but sometimes need the utility and cargo room of something larger than a Mustang. We think the Edge performs better than its direct competition (according to Ford) - the Honda Crosstour and Toyota Venza - especially in terms of space and ride quality, and the Nissan Murano just doesn't compete in terms of comfort and technology. The Ford Edge also costs less than any of these competitors. Overall we think the 2011 Ford Edge is a good value for what you get - a stylish, well-built crossover with some of the best automotive technology on the market.