Test Drive: 2015 Ford Edge

The Louka summer road trip took us to two distinctly different destinations this year. Week One found us in Wisconsin Dells, WI, about 1,000 km southeast of Winnipeg. The town is a mecca for waterpark goers, young and old alike, with poolside attractions that range from lounging by the swim-up bar to huge wave pools and thrilling waterslides. Week Two, in contrast, was spent back up in Canada near the town of Sioux Narrows, ON, where we rented a waterfront cabin at Totem Lodge. With a sandy beach in a protected bay, and with world-class fishing at the doorstep, this is the Canadian Shield at its finest.

I’m sure Ford wouldn’t mind one bit if you thought of the Edge as a budget Acura RDX or Lexus RX350.

As usual, I was hoping to put a press vehicle to the test for this vacation, and for the second time in a row Ford was able to arrange a suitable ride to transport us to and from our destinations.

This time it was the new-for-2015 second-generation Edge, a five-seat midsize crossover that sits between the Escape and Explorer in Ford’s extensive utility vehicle lineup. Ford is developing quite a following in this segment, with these three heavyweights each occupying a spot in the top 15 bestselling CUV/SUVs in Canada year-to-date. No other brand comes close.

Starting at a little more than $30,000, the Edge is a sizeable step up from the Escape and competes most directly with the Nissan Murano. One could consider any of the compact crossovers with starting prices in the $20s as competition, but the Murano and Edge are just a half-size larger than most (the Santa Fe Sport and CR-V, at the large end of their class, have similar interior volumes) and certainly have more premium aspirations than most of those. Besides, the Escape plays in that more densely populated sandbox.

I’m sure Ford wouldn’t mind one bit if you thought of the Edge as a budget Acura RDX or Lexus RX350.

Speaking of premium aspirations, as our tester shows, Ford’s pricing structure reflects the company’s knowledge that they are at the leading edge (sorry) when considering in-vehicle tech. If you want the goodies, you’ll have to pay.

The base front-drive Edge SE comes with push-button start, four-12V power points, a 2.0L EcoBoost engine, multi-function steering wheel, tilt and telescoping steering, map lights front and rear, 18-inch alloys, and a rear view camera.

Being the next-to-top trim (the fire-breathing Edge Sport sits above it), the $41,199  Titanium AWD adds a lengthy list of standard kit: leather seats, reclining second row seats, dual-zone climate control, Sony audio system, remote start, foot-activated power liftgate, LED running lights and taillights, parking sensors, active grille shutters, hill start assist, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

More on autoTRADER.ca: Comparison Test: Compact Crossover SUVs

Our tester was further fitted with the 302A equipment group which adds $3,800 to the Titanium base price and adds a host of tech and convenience options: blind spot warning system, heated rear seats and steering wheel, cooled front seats, perforated leather upholstery, lane keeping system, enhanced park assist, front camera, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, and second row inflatable safety belts. Conspicuous by its absence: adaptive cruise control.

At $2,000, the Canadian Touring package tops things off with a panoramic glass roof and voice-activated navigation.

Given our tester’s position near the top of the Edge lineup and its healthy dose of add-ons, it’s disappointing to know that a cargo cover will set you back another $400. Cargo covers should be standard as they provide basic security for stuff you want to keep from the view of prying eyes.

And for the curious, the least expensive way to get an Edge with factory navigation is to go into the SEL and select the Canadian Touring package. That’ll set you back $37,899 before destination and taxes (and the inevitable incentives).

This new-gen Edge incorporates a bit of backwards tech; the base engine being a 2.0L EcoBoost turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder, while the optional mill is the carryover 3.5L V6 from last year. Our tester had the EcoBoost, which is so smooth and quiet that it could be confused with a V6. Generating 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque out of a force-fed two-litre is not too unusual these days, with many manufacturers having some version of this engine type.

The six only produces 35 more hp, but more importantly is down on torque by 25 lb-ft with a peakier power delivery compared to the two-point-oh. Considering that the EcoBoost achieves roughly 20 percent lower fuel consumption, and the purchase price difference is negligible, the engine choice seems like a no-brainer. Go with the EcoBoost.

That said, I would want my $50K crossover to have a little more thrust available. Those who are like-minded on this issue would be happy to know the Edge Sport is also available, and at a $4,000 premium over the Titanium AWD, packs some heat befitting a range-topping model. The Sport gets Ford’s new 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with 315 hp and 350 lb-ft of twist. Now that’s more like it.

But back to our tester. It’s not that the four-banger is underpowered per se, because taking Interstate 29 south from the US/Canada border affords a 75 MPH (121 km/h) speed limit saw our loaded Edge cruising at 125 without a problem. There’s just a lack of urgency that I wish was there. Not that many folks need to accelerate beyond that point, but it’s nice to have some power on reserve. The payoff: on these highways we saw the Edge consume 9.9 L/100 km for the round trip, with some city driving included.

Our Sioux Narrows trip, with winding roads and posted limits of 80 to 90 km/h, saw predictably lower consumption, in the range of 8.5 L/100 km; very close to the Edge’s official highway consumption rating.

Most impressive was the performance of the six-speed automatic which, aided by the turbo-four’s broad torque curve, found the right gear at the right time in nearly every situation. On those winding roads in northwestern Ontario, a choice between sport mode automatic and paddle shift manual mode covered all the necessary bases.

The two-lane ribbons of asphalt that formed most of our drive on the second road trip allowed us to try one of Ford’s tech features: Automatic high-beams. Not brand new on the market, but a feature that will be more widespread in the coming years. We were following a few hundred feet behind another driver and each time they crested a hill or rounded a corner ahead, the high-beams automatically engaged. When either their taillights reappeared or an oncoming vehicle came around, the brights shut off faster than any human reaction could have accomplished. The result: maximum illumination of the road ahead with minimum disturbance to other people.

The Edge proved comfortable and roomy for the four of us and not once did we feel the kind of discomfort that made us want to get out and stretch our legs.

I praised Ford’s current MyFord Touch Sync system in the F-150 and will do so again for the Edge. The touchscreen measures eight inches (along with a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster) and has a different colour in each corner to represent communication, entertainment, navigation, and climate settings. It’s all very intuitive and voice commands are easy to learn for effective system operation.

Of course, the hubbub now is Ford’s upcoming Sync 3 which is a complete revamp of the aging user interface. The new system promises to work seamlessly with smartphone apps and will have enhanced voice recognition. Swiping capability and pinch to zoom are naturals for this new generation. But even though the Edge is brand-new for 2015, it won’t see Sync 3 until next model year. And no, upgrades won’t be available for 2015 models because it’s new hardware, not just a software upgrade. Whether Sync 3 is worth the wait will be up to shoppers. But even the current system is better than newer ones from Honda and VW. [Though it still doesn’t make our list of Top Five Infotainment Systems – Ed.]

There is plenty to celebrate with this new Edge, not the least of which is its styling that manages to be a major update while still being recognizable as an Edge. This CUV has gone all slab-sided and angular which gives it a much more aggressive stance. These advances in styling have a way of making the previous-gen model look instantly dated by comparison.

The greenhouse of the new car is smaller as a result, but the only real visibility downside I noticed was the area around the base of the A-pillars. The high windshield base, wide pillar, and the upward sweep of the hood toward its edges all conspire for a broad-shouldered appearance, but they also conspire to limit visibility in an area that could only benefit from better sightlines. As a result, I felt I was putting some effort into looking around the pillar for left turns at four-way stops and other intersections where a pedestrian might be hiding in that blind spot.

I have a dislike-hate relationship with power liftgates; in general I find them slow and annoying when the power feature can’t be easily over-ridden. The Edge’s is not one of those that I despise, and while I found myself not particularly appreciating the power liftgate, I didn’t hate it either, because it was quicker than most. We’ll call this one a dislike, and that’s as good as it gets.

The Edge is a compelling vehicle for those who are looking for a five-seat utility vehicle that is a half-step above the crowd, with leading technology, efficiency and style that sets it apart.

Warranty:
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 5 years/100,000 km roadside assistance

Competitors:
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Nissan Murano
Toyota Venza

2015 Ford Edge Titanium AWD
2015 Ford Edge Titanium AWD
Base Price $41,199
Optional Equipment 302A Equipment Group (Blind spot information system, auto-dimming mirrors, 110V power outlet, heated steering wheel and rear seats, cooled front seats, perforated leather upholstery, lane keeping system, enhanced park assist, front camera, automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, second row inflatable safety belts) - $3,800, Canadian Touring Package (Panoramic glass roof, voice-activated navigation system) - $2,000, Ruby red paint - $450
A/C tax:
Price as tested:
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee NA
Price as Tested $47,549
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.0
8 Exterior Styling
9 Comfort
8 Interior
8 Fuel Economy
7 Performance