In fierce SUV competition, Ford has an Edge

August 27, 2020 by
Filed under: Weekly test drives, Autos 

The 2020 Ford Edge ST in Rapid Red tips off sportiness with black grille, wheels.

By John Gilbert
When it comes to building a new truck of any size, Ford has an unfair advantage, it seems. So when the niche-seeking 2020 Ford Edge shows up, we take notice. And there is nothing disappointing about the Edge, especially when it wears the “ST” badge, indicating sporty upgrades in performance and handling.

The Edge might be the right-sized SUV for many consumers who are willing to swap overpowering towing and hauling capacity for agility and fuel-efficiency for everyday family flexibility, without ever risking losing that off-roads advantage. For openers, look at its heritage.

Ford has given us the F-150 pickup truck, which has led the market in sales every year for nearly four decades, and that truck is all-new for 2021, while leaving the company the basic template for forging ahead. The Explorer showed up and captured the imagination of consumers who wanted truck-like durability and the newly created SUV flexibility for family hauling and became the breakthrough vehicle to start and popularize the whole SUV segment.

Ford went both ways at once from there, to build the enormous Expedition and then the even larger Excursion, while also undercutting the Explorer with the compact Escape, which came in as Ford’s smallest sized SUV and immediately became a leader among compact SUVs.

The flow of new vehicles has never abated, and the Edge fit perfectly between the Escape and Explorer, and was joined by interesting specialty SUVs like the Flex, and the subcompact EcoSport, seem to fill every possible niches in the range of segments. It would be easy to get bored with the constant increase in the sheer number of vehicles, except that every time you get a chance to climb aboard any of them, you come away impressed.

With my wife, Joan, and older son Jack, we filled the Edge ST with hiking/walking stuff and parked on Duluth’s Skyline Drive.

The 2020 Edge is built on a platform that was new for 2019 and is firm and refined and stiff enough to provide excellent handling around corners without ever tending to be harsh. For my road-test week, I cheated just a little, without even trying. The bright “Race Red” Edge that came to my driveway just up the North Shore from Duluth, Minnesota, was the ST version, which was introduced about a year ago and means this Edge had a distinct edge in sporty performance as well as appearance.

The basic Edge starts with Ford’s peppy 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine and it is more than adequate for performance of the well-sized Edge. But the ST version takes a major leap forward, with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 that develops 335 horsepower at 5,550 RPMs, and 380 foot-pounds of torque at 3,250 RPMs. That’s 90 horsepower and 105 foot-pounds more than the EcoBoost 4.

Light to medium trailer towing for camping or a fishing boat is no problem, and the 8-speed automatic transmission seamlessly finds the right gear regardless of load. If it doesn’t, in your estimation, you can simply click the shift paddles to up or down shift.

That makes the Edge ST about the most potent way to haul around a family of five as you can imagine, and once you climb into that attractively stitched leather bucket driver’s seat, your first objective is to start up from a stop without giving a dose of whiplash to the four other occupants. The Edge ST is sort of a race-car in compact SUV form, and while the base engine is adequate, the 2.7 twin-turbo is a rocket.

The color is up to the task of announcing your arrival, and the 21-inch black alloy wheels and performance tires set off the styling further. The blacked-in grille and the front styling with its faired-in headlights and foglights also are projected, to coin a phrase, at both usefulness and style.

True, some families need more room, and for them there are those larger SUVs right across the showroom floor, but for a young family with one or two or even three youngsters, the Edge is just right. Same goes for older families, when the kids have grown up and fled to college, and you want to downsize back to more reasonable handling and parking and garaging.

Variable information instrument panel and control-filled steering wheel accent Edge ST.

Edge ST interior with rich materials, handy features including rotating shifter on console.

The features inside are considerable. Heated front and rear seats add cooled front buckets; adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane centering; panoramic sunroof; voice-activated navigation touch-screen; hands-free, foot-activated tailgate for opening up when your arms are full; evasive steering assist; remote starting system; cold-weather package with heated steering wheel; windshield wiper de-icer; ST performance brake system — all standard or on optional packages.

Edge ST features a version of Ford’s signature grille on a “right-size” SUV that seats five.

While driving or riding, you have 1-touch up or down windows, a 60-40 rear seat for folding down, aluminum pedals, auto-dim mirror, 10-way front bucket adjustments, smart-charging cell-phone set-up are also things you need to adjust to. You also get major illumination because the headlights are bi-LED, the foglights are LED and the taillights are LED. There is also something called “signature lighting” that consist of LEDs, and you are surrounded by ambient lighting to welcome you aboard.

For driving, you have a clean, spacious console because Ford uses a rotating dial for a shifter instead of a lever. I didn’t think I would like that, but I adapted quickly and now I can appreciate the advantages of not blocking out one-fourth of the console space for a shift lever. With the auto-start-stop technology, and all the safety devices that can be reached by Ford’s sophisticated SYNC system, are included as standard equipment. That goes beyond the performance-tuned suspension, the pre-collision assist, rear-view camera with a washer built in, reverse sensing system are things that are not unique by themselves but are doubly impressive grouped with all the other complementary features.

All the expected airbags are there for front, side and rollover protection are built in. The amount of options on top of the basic Edge sticker price results in a total of $52,935, which has another advantage in competition, because so many larger and more luxurious SUVs cost so much more that $52,935 seems more than reasonable.

Also, along with the instrument panel that is like an advanced video game for providing useful information, and you also get a high-tech Bang and Olufsen audio system with 12 speakers filling that interior space.

Every company that makes SUVs is trying frantically to fill all the niches, but Ford’s dedication to the concept goes so far as eliminating most of the sedans and cars in their fleet, such as the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus. They’ll keep making the Mustang, with several variations, and they’ll convert sedan assembly plants to pouring out more and more trucks.

Seating for five and surprising storage space fit inside the Edge ST, which has towing package, dual exhausts, and automatic foot-operated opening switch.

The EPA mileage estimates range from 19 city to 26 highway, and we proved you can reach that high, if you can resist the temptation to punch the gas pedal floorward. When you stop by a Ford dealership to check out an F-150, or an Explorer, don’t pass up the chance to take a close look and then a road-test in the Edge, which is a lot more than just another of a lot of trucks parked there. Especially if you spot that little “ST” badge on the grille.

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