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2007 Ford Edge Crossover Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

FORD EDGE 2007 A Crucial Leg of the Journey of
Ford's Way Forward

By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Ford

We had a close look at, and a little wheel time in, Ford’s fresh new mid-size crossover sport-utility (CUV) called Edge in San Francisco last week. First presented at the Detroit auto show last January in pre-production guise Edge represents one big step forward in Ford’s slow-moving turnaround plan. They really need this one.

It’s not surprising that the CUV market is the hottest segment in the industry right now. Boomers are downsizing out of big SUVs, fuel prices are scaring folks into vehicles with better mileage, young families are demanding efficient vehicular packages for their varied lifestyles and, of course, manufacturers can develop CUVs from existing car platforms with minimal costs. It is predicted that this upcoming model year CUVs will actually outsell SUVs.

CUVs are the modern iteration of the station wagon, that is, a utilitarian adaptation of a sedan. They’re all about functionality. Take your unibody car, give it a higher stance and seating position, square the back for cargo and add all the extras your customers will pay for. It doesn’t take that much to redesign a successful car into a CUV. The competition is fierce.

The Edge comes from Ford’s freshest new car, Fusion, but it adds lots of content and functionality. Most importantly, in this humble reporter’s view, is the all-new 3.5-liter V6, a high tech, high content, aluminum engine that makes 265 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. Ford has been guilty of underpowering otherwise good cars in the past – particularly the 500 and it’s siblings – but they’ve done an admirable job here. The engine is smooth, quick and has a nice high-tech sound on heavy throttle. A relatively high 10.3:1 compression ratio along with “close-coupled catalysts” help this V6 meet the ULEV II emissions standards. And, the miracle continues, you’ll be getting in the mid-20s in fuel mileage. With every new engine out of Detroit, it seems, we see incrementally more performance, better mileage and better emissions as well.

An all-new six-speed automatic transmission, codesigned initially with GM, features short first and second gear ratios for quick starts, and long overdrives in 5th and 6th gears to enhance mileage. On our initial drives around the hills and curves north and west of San Francisco I must say it felt wonderful. We can disengage overdrive but we can’t shift it ourselves otherwise. Ford should give some consideration to offering a manual shift mode for this great trans.

Optional intelligent all-wheel-drive will make for extra confidence in adverse conditions. Standard are the AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control, a full compliment of air bags, 4-wheel ABS. The Ford folks brag about there being no optional safety stuff for the Edge because everything is included.

Ford has been criticized for not being bold enough in design with new products. Leadership has been lacking in that regard, unlike the days of the first Taurus, a shockingly bold design for its time. Philosophy at Ford is stated as “Bold American Design” and the Edge is a good example. Bold enough to get some attention without being too far out; certainly American, unmistakably Ford.

Style, of course is in the eyes of the beholder. Ford has done an admirable job of incorporating the current popular design themes while giving it a distinctively Ford personality. Short overhangs with wheels out to the extreme edges of the vehicle, a tall, “athletic” stance, high shoulder lines, large wheel wells, dual exhaust with chrome tips, and a nice crisp spoiler for the rear roof, give Edge some edginess without being controversial. Grille and other styling details are derived from the Fusion.

I’ll reserve a thorough analysis until I can get the car for an extended test, but in the meantime our brief drives around San Francisco left me with some good initial impressions. I like the driver’s seat a lot. It fits me extremely well – not too big or small, not too firm or soft. I could easily spend hours in that seat comfortably, I’m sure.

Handling is very good. We drove both the all-wheel-drive version and the regular front-wheel-drive. I felt very little difference in the firmness or quality of ride or cornering ability. The roads Ford chose for out test drives wound and twisted through the foothills with narry a straight section to be seen so we gave it a good thrashing without drama.

Controls are intuitive. The tactile quality and interior materials are pleasant to feel and to look at. The design theme for the interior has to do with contemporary urban lofts. OK. I’m not sure what that means exactly but it is certainly stylish and aesthetic.

Speaking of functionality, the rear seats fold flat as does the passenger seat in the front allowing for the shoving in of 8-foot-long cargo. Those rear seats fold at the push of a button in the rear cargo area. It’s a simple electric release switch letting go of the tensioned seat back. Very clever. The center console between the front seats has 12 configurations, including one that allows the storage of your lap top computer. An MP3 adapter resides therein as well. Ford sees the automobile as the customer’s third most important place next to home and office and every effort has been made to allow the driver to be connected to the world. In my old-fashioned, low-tech view the jury is still out on whether that’s a good thing or not.

Both my passengers on the test drive complained about not having a grab handle above the door for pulling themselves in or out, or for personal stabilization when the driver is spiritedly pounding the curvy road. The mid-size sedan from which the Edge is derived has a handle at each door.

A range of new colors adorn the Edge and some other Ford products, all named after, and inspired by, food – Crème Brule, Lime Gold, French Silk, Dark Cherry, Orange Frost (my favorite), Merlot and Light Sage. Paint jobs on our test cars were exceptional with barely hint of orange-peel.

A DVD-based navigation system is available and we used it a bit on our test drives, particularly getting from our photo spot beneath the Golden Gate Bridge back to our center-of-the-city hotel. It was amazingly easy to manage and was completely accurate.

Prices start at $26,000 for the SE model and $28,000 for the SEL. All-wheel-drive is a $1,650 option. Ford benchmarked the Nissan Murano, claiming better content priced about 2-grand less.

Edge is on sale in November but it may take a while to get one if you’re not already pals with your Ford dealer. They’re starting with 20,000 dealer orders and they’ve had over a million hits on the Website inquiring about the car.

This may be the hit Ford needs to get the turn-around plan moving.