Every so often carmakers showcase their concept cars at prestigious motor shows for the sake of awing the audience, but fail to pull it off when it’s time to put the actual vehicle on sale to the masses. I call it the “accountant’s jinx” wherein the (sensible) moneymen set the ground rules for the engineers
to work upon.
While this is a global phenomenon, it doesn’t seem to be the case with Ford – at least not anymore.
Come to think of it, Ford, Range Rover, Lexus, BMW and Infiniti are the only car companies of today who stay true to their concepts. It’s a pernickety subject, and isn’t one that will have the buying audience up in arms.
Nevertheless, Ford has vanquished its accountants with the Edge; it’s a statement I said earlier when I was given the keys to the car earlier in 2016, and one that I continue to say today. Heck, it was so vogueish, I even added it to the list of my top pick of cars of last year.
The Ford Edge is at the zenith of affordable “lifestyle” vehicles of today. But, before I get into the specifics, I must point out that the car I drove this week was the Ford Edge Titanium, and not the Sport (like I did the last time around).
Like its athletic sibling, though, the Titanium also comes with sporty design elements, the difference is apparent at first glance.
My tester came with smaller alloys, plastic body panels on the bottom and a mellow rear bumper. The lack of active aero elements on the grille is also quite evident to those with a keen eye.
Still, the front fascia is edgy (no pun intended) with its sharp headlamps, pentagonal LED daytime running lights and a large chrome-plated hexagonal grille. The side profile is clean and simple, but is enhanced by sharp lines that run across the length of the car.
The rear tail light, however, sits high up on the C-pillar, and will split halves. But I found the tail lamps – which are connected by a signature light bar – to be quite striking, especially at night. The SUV also comes with dual functional exhausts, although it’s not integrated with the bumper for good cause.
Overall, however, the design translates to a very macho look, and one that can bowl over people of all age groups. Nevertheless, those looking to stand out are better off opting for the orange-coloured Edge Sport with the mammoth 56cm smoked alloys – it’s a head turner when compared to most other SUVs in this class.
The Ford’s interior has also come of age this time around: the panels are put together neatly with very little gaps and alignment issues.
I also appreciated the spaciousness inside the cabin. As a matter of fact, I found it quite hard to rest my elbow on the door because of the sizeable gap between me and the door panel.
Getting inside the cabin, however, you’re greeted with a host of tech-toys. Sure, it’s not up there with the pricier Germans but you are still treated with Ford’s all-new Sync3 system and the 15cm touchscreen.
The interior is quite like what you would get in its current products, and you will find it easy to use, no matter how old you are. The Sync3 system is functional and intuitive, and presents itself in a very simple manner.
You can control everything from the music and maps to the air conditioning and even the interior ambience lighting. Throughout the course of my test drive, I didn’t notice any real lag from the system. Even the new preloaded maps worked like a charm; kudos to Ford engineers for mastering that.
Those of you who don’t want to meddle with the touchscreen to change your music or a/c temperatures can use the physical buttons that are neatly placed on the centre console of the dashboard.
It’s very evident that the interior of the Edge is passenger-centric. There’s plenty of space – both head and knee room – for five full-size adult passengers. All the a/c vents are also strategically placed and do well to cool down all the zones (front and back) with ease. Oh, and yes, the front passengers do receive heated and cooled (ventilated) seats.
If I had a bone to pick, it would have to be the seats. They’re not just soft, they’re Ford Soft – that is to say you are encompassed within the softest cushions you can find in a car. This means that the lumbar support and the bolstering is at a minimum. I found this to be the case in the Edge Sport, too.
The interior is cladded in leather, and the dashboard adopts (relatively) soft-touch surfaces as well. But, as is the case with most cars, there are hard-plastic panels from the knee down.
My tester also came with a 12-speaker Sony audio system. It is much crisper and deeper than the Bose and Harmon/Kardon audio systems found in its competitors.
Now let’s talk about the prime difference between the Edge Titanium and the Edge Sport: the engine. The Titanium comes packing a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 motor as opposed to the 2.7-litre turbocharged ‘Ecoboost’ V6 found in the latter.
The engine may be larger in displacement but there’s a sizeable difference in the power. It produces 280hp and 343Nm of torque, as opposed to the 340hp and 542Nm of torque pumped out by the Ecoboost (which is forcefully induced).
While the numbers may be contrasting, do not – not even for a second – think that the SUV is sluggish. The naturally aspirated engine revs up quickly into the power band. Most of the torque kicks in after the 3,500rpm range, and keeps pulling until it runs out of steam at around 5,000rpm, upon which you can simply shift up a gear.
Speaking of which, the engine is still mated to the same six-speed automatic transmission and puts power down to all four wheels.
The gearbox, however, is unhurried, especially to kick down. I was also surprised to find the transmission looking for gears when cruising; although that may be the case to increase the fuel economy of the SUV.
Nonetheless, you can simply take control of the steering-mounted paddle shifters to (more or less) control the shifts and stay within reach of the power and torque band.
All of that means that I was hitting the 100kph mark from naught in eight seconds (on a hot 35-degree-Celsius day). But do keep in mind that the performance will be much tauter on cooler days.
The exhaust note sounds glorious when you push the SUV, as the gearbox (briefly) holds gears to allow the engine hit its limiter.
And because the Edge comes with all-wheel-drive, you can flirt with the limits of grip all you want. The vehicle will hold its lines in the corners with ease. However, I did notice that the vehicle did roll more than its sportier sibling when pushed into tight corners.
But, given a tight and slow racetrack, it will haul itself to keep up with the Sport – no doubt. Although it’s not a point-and-shoot vehicle like the latter; there’s only so much torture those 245/50 high-profile tyres can take before they let go.
Ford also chucks in adaptive steering with the SUV. It’s not the most conventional system you can use; it’s almost like the setup from Audi’s new Q5 that I tested a few weeks back, but better. Yes! Ford’s system feels more engaging and, dare I say, normal?
There’s also a fair bit of feedback translating from the rack to the steering wheel. The brakes on the Edge are superb, offering excellent stopping power. The pedal has a good feel to it and the power is distributed linearly.
In all, I found the Ford Edge Titanium to be a wholesome package, only bettered by the addition of the brilliant Sync3 system.
Now – after all these years – it should finally sit as an able proposition for a family of five looking for a car that can stand out from the rest of the crowd, but also offer superior levels of technology, comfort and performance.
For all others, though, there’s the Ford Edge Sport. And that – my dear friends – is an SUV that I still maintain to be the best bet for a performance enthusiast on a budget.
Engine: 3.5-litre six-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Top speed: 200kph (limited)
LED daytime running lights
10-way adjustable driver seat
Ventilated front seats
12-speaker Sony audio system
Ford Sync3® system
15cms touch-operated infotainment screen
LED tail lights with light bar
Panoramic vista roof
Blind-spot information system
Four 12-Volt power outlets