Road Test

2011 Ford Edge

Ford's big CUV gets a substantial mid-cycle refresh

2011 Ford Edge

issinThe Ford Edge is one of an ever-expanding family of crossover vehicles · part SUV, part wagon, part minivan. First introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model, it has received a number of significant updates and upgrades for 2011 during a mid-cycle makeover.

Based on the same CD3 platform used for the Lincoln MKX and Mazda CX-9, the Edge is a four-door, five-passenger vehicle available in front or all-wheel-drive variants.

Changes for the 2011 model are substantial. They include a redesign inside and out, new engines, suspension upgrades, new technologies and significantly reduced noise levels.

The 2011 Edge gets a new look with pretty much everything forward of the windshield redesigned. That includes fascia, fenders, hood and headlights. At the other end, the taillights, rear fascia and a pair of big chromed exhaust outlets advise that this is the new Edge.

Look closely at areas like the grille and beneath the front and rear of the vehicle and you'll see the results of many hours in the wind tunnel, ensuring this big vehicle slides through the air with minimal disturbance.

The redesign continues inside where Ford designers once again showcase their ability to combine style and functionality. The pieces are not only composed of high quality materials and boast impressive fit, the different materials and surfaces blend well with each other.

All four doors open wide for easy entry and exit and visibility to all quarters is good, with plenty of glass and a reasonably low belt line. Rear seat head and legroom is commendable and the Edge is capable of making a quartet of six-footers comfy, five in a pinch.

The cargo area is well finished and easily accessed through a wide tailgate that opens at the touch of a button on the instrument panel, key fob or a touchpad on the tailgate itself. On the Sport trim, it also closes automatically at the touch of a button on the left side of the cargo area. The Sport model also gets a gigantic, panoramic glass sunroof.

The Edge comes in four trim levels. The SE, SEL and Limited models come with a new 3.5-litre V-6 boasting more power and refinement as well as improved economy. Producing 285 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, it is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and drives the front wheels. A manual shift mode is included in the SEL and Limited trims and all-wheel-drive is also available in those models.

Our tester was the line-topping Sport version and it was a bit of a disguised hot rod thanks to the new 3.7-litre V6 engine shared with the Mustang and exclusive here in the top trim level.

Coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission, complete with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and driving all four wheels, it produces 305 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to make light work of more than two tonnes of Edge.

It does like to drink though · averaging 11.9 litres/100 over several hundred kms of mostly highway work.

The ride/handling equation is tilted toward comfort but despite all that weight and height, the Edge Sport doesn

?ft cringe when it comes to corners. That ?gSport?h designation means it has different spring and damping rates than the other models as well as larger anti-roll bars.

It also comes with 265-mm-wide tires mounted on massive 22-inch chromed wheels. Slightly smaller 235-mm tires and 17-inch wheels are standard on the SE and 245-mm and 18-inch alloys on the SEL and Limited.

Ford has used the new Edge to debut MyTouch with Sync, paired with a driver-configurable liquid crystal display instrument panel, 20-cm touch screen, navigation system, steering-wheel-mounted controls and on the Sport, a Sony developed audio system. The emphasis is on voice-control for everything from text messages to directions.

On either side of the speedometer are 10.5-cm LCD screens that can be configured by buttons on the wheel to display a variety of information – vehicle stuff on the left, infotainment on the right. The color can be changed at will.

The latest version of Sync, incorporated within the MyTouch system operates audio, climate, navigation and telephone using voice commands. It can make or receive calls or text messages and can serve as a mobile wireless internet hot spot.

I·m not yet a fan, finding it far from intuitive. There are no actual buttons or knobs, and simple tasks like changing the radio station, revising an HVAC setting or inputting a destination on the navigation system are much too complex and multi-stage.

The navigation system also has the annoying habit of repeating the direction at every intersection, telling you to go straight. On a more positive note, the voice-command feature worked far better than any other I have come across and folks used to an iPad and other touch-screen systems will probably love it.

While there are plenty who would argue that the whole thing is distracting, Ford has gone out of its way to minimize this danger. MyTouch with Sync will even read text messages aloud out and spre-determined replies · hands free.

The Edge is positioned as a premium vehicle so standard equipment is extensive. The $27,999 SE comes with power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise, tilt and telescope steering wheel with audio controls and remote keyless entry.

The walk up the trim ladder to the $33,999 SEL adds heated seats and mirrors, larger wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power lift-gate, auto-dimming rear view mirror, power driver

?fs seat, back-up sensors and automatic headlights.

The $37,799 Limited FWD adds power leather seats, a garage door opener and a voice-activated radio SYNC while the $43,499 Sport gets AWD, the big 22-inch forged aluminum wheels, sport suspension, and paddle shifters.

My tester also had a $650

?gVision?h package (Blind Spot Information, cross traffic alert), a $1,000 ?gdriver entry?h package (alarm, power lift gate and push-button start), the $1,850 ?gCanadian Touring?h package (vista sunroof, audio upgrade and navigation system, $2,100 DVD entertainment system. All this pushed it past the $51,000 mark.

Ford is onto something with the Edge. It moved more than 400,000 of the first generation in a rapidly expanding segment. Updates for the second generation 2011 model should ensure that popularity continues.

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