Now that Ford has made the bold move to ditch pretty much all of its passenger cars in North America, it stands to reason we’ll be seeing the Blue Oval lineup fleshed out with further variants of its SUVs and trucks. For 2019, the Oakville-built Edge mid-size crossover gets the hallowed ST badging – a couple of letters we normally associate with free-spirited versions of the Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks.
If Mom wants to play hooligan on a back road after dropping the kids off at school, the Edge ST is more than happy to play along.
So how does this family hauler fit into the ST ethos? I’ve seen various reviewers bemoan the fact that the 2019 Edge ST, which replaces last year’s Edge Sport, doesn’t behave like some crazed track rat, squishing your eyeballs with its accelerative forces while scooting and rotating like a weasel with ADD. Hello. This is a mainstream crossover, and presumably Ford would like to sell a few of them.
In that light, I’d say Ford has arrived at a pretty decent blend of sporty performance, utility, usability and comfort with the 2019 Edge ST that starts at $49,099. And it is a sharp-looking rig, here in Ruby Red tri-coat metallic ($450) and rolling on optional 21-inch gloss black alloys wearing 265/40R21 all-season tires ($950).
Like last year’s Edge Sport, the ST runs with a 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, although the wick has been turned up by 20 ponies and 30 lb-ft to 335 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque respectively. The Sport’s six-speed auto gets ditched for a new eight-speed unit with paddle shifters, and the ST gets springs that are 12 percent stiffer in front and 20 percent stiffer out back, along with stouter roll bars.
The all-wheel drive system gets tweaked for more rear bias when in Sport mode, and it will fully decouple the rear axle for improved fuel mileage when cruising. Sport mode (activated by the S button in the middle of the rotary gear selector) also sharpens throttle response, brings up a more aggressive shift program and pipes some synthesized engine growl through the speakers.
Looking at this chunky tester rolling on 21-inch wheels (20-inch are standard), one might think all this go-fast hardware is a recipe for an aggressively jarring ride. Not so. Sure, the ST is firm, but it’s never crashy or uncomfortable, even on the acned roads around the GTA. It also shows fine body control, sharp and well-weighted steering, and tons of grip. And speaking of grip, the comfy leather 10-way sports seats with faux-suede inserts hold you firmly in place when the going gets frisky.
The twin-turbo 2.7L V6 gives this ute an impressive turn of speed, shoving it forward on a wave of torque from low down on the tach. It’s not a rev-hungry engine, having done its business by about 5,500 rpm, but it will have you at ultra-legal speed in no time. If you’re used to the quick wits of a dual-clutch transmission or the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed auto found in Audi, Jags, BMWs, and many more; this ST’s paddle shifters will not tempt you as the response time is just a beat too tardy. That said, this new-for-Edge eight-speed auto works well enough on its own.
If Mom wants to play hooligan on a back road after dropping the kids off at school, the Edge ST is more than happy to play along. It’s a well engineered piece, blending into a cohesive whole when you start leaning into it. The high seating position offers good visibility out over the hood, and I will confess to cracking a smile on my country road loop.
This being the most expensive Edge ($5,700 more than the ritzy Titanium), there’s a decent amount of kit included in the base price. Along with the aforementioned performance upgrades, the ST also gets a fine B&O audio system, proximity key with push-button start, power tilt/telescope steering column, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, land-keeping system, reverse sensing, remote start, Sync3 interface, and full LED headlights.
The big-ticket item here is the $5,800 Equipment Group 401A that adds adaptive cruise with stop-and-go, evasive steering assist, panoramic sunroof, navigation, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, climate front seats, enhanced park assist, wireless charging, wiper de-icer and more.
The interior quality is acceptable, but nothing to write home about in a $57,000 vehicle. Still, with its good ergonomics, clear and colourful digital displays, and the latest Sync3 that is easy to navigate and responds well to voice commands, there’s not much to gripe about here. Backseat room is generous, as is cargo space.
Although, I would ask Ford to recalibrate the heat for the steering wheel and front seats. I found the wheel too hot to hold without wearing gloves, and similarly, the lowest setting of seat heat does a fine job of searing the chinos before settling down to “tolerable” after about 10 minutes. Why go through that discomfort? As my wife so eloquently put it, “If the first level does this, what’s level three for? Roasting a chicken?”
While high-performance SUVs have blossomed into a weird, mutant offshoot of our crossover-crazed world, the Ford Edge ST plays to that ethos while wearing somewhat sensible shoes. It’s perky, it’s practical, it’s plenty athletic yet also functions just fine as a day-to-day hauler. It’s all about the balance.
|Peak Horsepower||335 hp|
|Peak Torque||380 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||12.6/9.2/11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,110 / 2,078 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2019 Ford Edge ST|
|Price as Tested||$58,189|
$7,200 – Equipment Group 401A $5,800; Ruby Red tri-coat metallic $450; 21-inch gloss black alloys with 265/40R21 all season tires $950