2018 Ford Edge 2.0T Ecoboost SEL FWD (USA)

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This car should be familiar to Europeans, as Ford decided that they would bring the second generation Edge model to Europe, to sit above the Kuga (Escape, in American speak) in the range. It is not a volume seller, of course, as by European standards, it is on the large side, and by this size and price point, there is plenty of choice from premium brands that no amount of sticking Vignale badges and all the marketing nonsense that goes with it can really hope to compete against. European Edge models only come with a 2 litre Turbo Diesel engine in two states of tune and standard all-wheel drive, whereas in America, where the Edge is deemed to be a mid-sized Crossover, there are exclusively petrol powered models available and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The Edge competes in one of the most important sectors of the American market, a segment that is getting ever more significant as buyers move from traditional sedans over to this format of vehicle. So much so, that Ford announced in the middle of 2017 that the current generation of sedans that they offer would be the last and that henceforth, they would only offer Crossovers, Pickups and the Mustang. So a lot rests on the Edge, where it must fend off an array of direct competitors in the mid-size SUV market space as well as convince those who would otherwise have considered a Fusion, that this is the product for them. The current Edge, the second generation to bear the name, was launched in 2014 and has been subject only to relatively minor updates on an annual basis since then. As is sometimes the way with these things, though, it is has taken a while before I could get behind the wheel. Its market arrival coincided with a year when Hertz seemingly bought no Ford products at all, and even when they did, there seemed to be relatively few Edge models on fleet. Those they did have were quickly snapped up – always a sign that a car is good! – but finally in Phoenix, on a night when they were very starved of cars, I found this Olympic White 2018 SEL model awaiting its next driver. It was not hard to decide that this should be me. I had rather liked the first generation Edge when I drove it, back in 2014 and I was eager to see how the latest one performed.

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The test car had the 2 litre Ecoboost Turbo engine under the bonnet, In this model, it develops 245 bhp, and is coupled to a 6 speed automatic gearbox. This is a good engine. It is smooth, and willing and there is a throaty roar to it under acceleration that makes it quite pleasing to the ears. Whilst I am sure the 280 bhp V6 unit would doubtless be even better in many ways, you need not feel short-changed in an Edge with this as the motive power. It is well up to the job, with plenty of acceleration available, and a smooth acting transmission which is not just seamless in operation, but which always seemed to be in the optimum gear for what you wanted to do. There are wheel mounted paddles for those who want to change the gears themselves, but I left the system to its own devices. Noise levels from the engine are well suppressed so this is a peaceful cruiser, and there is also little aural interference from the road or the wind, so long journeys would not be hardship at all. With good fuel economy, which this Edge delivers, you could go a long way without stopping. I covered 249 miles in the full day I had the car, and put in 8.6 gallons of regular to fill it up, which works out at an impressive 28.9 mpg US, which is 34.6 mpg Imperial, a commendable result for a large car.

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The Edge inherits much of the other driving characteristics from the Fusion on which it is based. And that is all Goodness. The steering is excellent, with a precision and a weighting that is probably unequalled by anything in its class. And whilst this may be a crossover with a higher centre of gravity than a saloon model, you don’t really that very much when it comes to the twisty bits. The grip is excellent, and there is a fluency in the handling which means that you can drive this car with more than enthusiasm than is possible with most crossovers. It rides well, too. It comes on relatively high profile 240/60 R18 wheels, and these do an excellent job in smoothing out the imperfections in the road. The brakes seemed well judged, with good feel and the right amount of pressure required to bring the Edge to a stop. There is an electronic parking brake, operated by a small button in the centre console. This Edge has Ford’s clever second piece of glass in the top corners of the door mirrors which provides a simple solution to the problem of the blind spot. There is the now obligatory rear-view camera to help judge the back end, so manoeuvering this car was not that difficult. The Edge SEL features keyless with the numeric key pad on the driver’s B pillar lit up in the dark, so making it more obvious than it is in strong sunlight.

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Only a few days before this test, I drove a Fusion, and there is a clear family connection with that model when you look at the dashboard of this one. And that’s largely a Good Thing, as this means you get some decent quality materials and a clear and cohesive design. As the test car was in SEL trim, you get lots of leather, with this not just wrapping the steering wheel, but featuring on the door casings and parts of the dash as well. The instrument cluster is exactly as it was in the Fusion. That means a large central speedo, complete with the turquoise pointer, and then areas to either side which are configurable by pressing the various selection buttons on each steering wheel spoke. The area to the left has 4 main menu options, with trip computer data one possibility, but the one you will probably want to leave showing most of the time has a rev counter and fuel and water temperature displays. The one on the right shows audio information. As well as the steering wheel buttons for this, there are also buttons inset into the edge of the spokes for cruise control and audio repeater functions. A pair of column stalks are for indicators and wipers, whilst the lights are operated by a rotary dial on the dash to the left of the wheel. The centre of the dash contains the colour touch screen for the Sync3 infotainment system, straddled by a pair of angled air vents. The Sync3 system is a vast improvement on what went before, with crisp graphics, and the right combination of screen-based functions and those you can drive from the knobs and buttons under the unit, such as audio tuning and volume. XM Satellite radio is included, but you do not get navigation at this trim level. The sound quality from the system was excellent. The screen menus are actually quite easy to use, and the system was decently responsive. Under this all are the buttons for the dual zone climate control. There is keyless starting. Like the Fusion, and unlike recent European-designed models. this one proves that Ford can do a decent and quality-looking interior.

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Seat trim in the SEL is leather, and there is electric adjustment, though only the driver gets electric motors for everything, the passenger side has a manual lever for back rest rake, and also has to do without the lumbar support adjuster that is offered to the driver. The seat itself proved comfortable, and there is that characteristic higher driving position that comes with crossover styling that is one reason why so many like this automotive genre. That said, headroom is also plentiful, and there is no really obvious feeling of stepping up to get in like you get with some taller vehicles. The column has a telescoping adjustment to reach and rake, so I could readily find my perfect driving position. Like many cars, with the seat set well forward, the central armrest was so far back as to serve only as a storage facility, something it does well, with an upper tray and a deep bin under it. This joins the modest glovebox and the door pockets as a place for odds and ends, and there is also a lidded compartment on the top of the dash.

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It’s a pretty good deal for those in the rear, too. The central console does protrude back quite a long way, but there should still be ample space for a middle seat occupant’s legs, and the floor is almost flat. Even with the rear seats well back, there is ample legroom, and the crossover styling endows the Edge with plentiful headroom. You can vary the angle of inclination of the backrest a little. There is a central armrest, with cupholders in the upper surface. Oddment stowage is in the door pockets and the map pockets on the back of both front seats. There are a pair of air vents, but no separate controls.

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The boot on the Edge is a good size. It is long from front to back, though perhaps slightly shallower up to the window line than you might have expected. There is room in various moulded trays that surround the space-saver spare under the floor for a good number of smaller odds and ends. More space can be created by dropping the asymmetrically split rear seat backrests down, something that is done by pulling the release and just dropping them down. The resulting load bay is flat, and even longer than before.

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For the American market, there are four different trim versions of the Edge: SE, SEL, Titanium and Sport. The standard engine is the 2 litre Turbo Ecoboost unit, which was fitted to the test car, and this is the only available unit in the entry level SE trim. A 280 bhp 3.5-litre V6 is available in the Edge SEL and Edge Titanium for an extra $625. You also have a choice between front-wheel drive (standard) or all-wheel drive ($1,995). The fourth trim level in the Edge line-up is the Sport. Unlike the others, this trim comes with only one mechanical setup: a turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 engine with 315 bhp and standard all-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is in every Edge model. Comfort amenities make up the bulk of the differences between the three primary trims. Things get more complicated, as Ford also offer a series of Equipment Packages, which can often add upgrades for a smaller up-charge than moving to the next trim level. For example, you can start with the SEL trim and add the 201A Equipment Group for $2,910 to get the superior infotainment system and heated leather seats. You’ll end up with almost the same level of amenities as the Titanium trim for about $1,100 less. The Edge SE is the base trim. Starting at $29,200, the SE comes with a 4.2-inch colour infotainment display, the SYNC interface with limited voice commands, a USB port, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration, a proximity key, push-button start, a rearview camera, and Ford MyKey (a safety system for teen drivers). With an MSRP of $31,955, the Edge SEL, as per the test car, is probably better value. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and satellite radio. Leather-trimmed seats and ambient lighting instantly set the Edge Titanium ($35,930) apart. It also comes with the SYNC 3 infotainment system, an 8-inch touch screen that recognises swipe and pinch gestures, enhanced smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, HD Radio, and two USB ports. Both front seats feature heat and 10-way power adjustments, and a hands-free liftgate is added. As the most athletic of the bunch, the $40,675 Edge Sport gets a few performance upgrades, such as the more powerful 2.7 litre V6 engine, a sport-tuned suspension system. Its leather-trimmed seats boast perforated suede cloth inserts, and accents like aluminium pedal covers and polished stainless steel exhaust tips add to its distinguished look. Many of the Titanium’s standard features are also included.

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The Edge struck me as a very pleasant vehicle, and one of the best of its type. There was much to like here, and little to fault. Even in 4 cylinder form it goes well, and it steers and handles in a way that belies its Crossover-ness. It is well finished inside, with a very usable dashboard, and there is ample room for 5 people and lots of luggage. Unless you really need 7 seats, you would be better off, in my opinion, with one of these than the larger Explorer if it is a Ford you want, and if you are considering the more direct rivals, then my current view is that it comes down to one of these, a Nissan Murano or a Kia Sorento. All three are excellent, if not unduly exciting means of family transport. The Nissan scores with its standard V6 engine and a nicely finished interior, and the Kia does well on space inside. The one I drove was a V6 as well, which scored highly. But don’t discount the Ford. It is also very agreeable, a good product in its own right, and a worthy alternative to the Fusion once that is no longer available. Would I choose one in Europe? Probably not, and certainly not with the Vignale tinsel (and price tag and depreciation), but here in America, this is definitely a car to seek out at the rental car desk.

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