For any fan of American cars, the 2007 Ford Edge is a vitally important vehicle. It’s Ford’s first foray into the arena of futuristic ‘crossover’ utility vehicles – tall unit-body cars that offer the practicality of a traditional truck-based SUV, but perform more like cars and get car-like fuel economy.
The main difference between a crossover and an SUV is that a crossover has a unit body, like a car, while traditional SUVs are body-on-frame vehicles based on pickup truck architecture. Ford’s Escape and Freestyle are crossovers, while its Explorer and Expedition are traditional SUVs.
Why do they need another crossover? Well, take a look at the Edge and you’ll quickly discover that it’s an entirely different animal than the Escape or Freestyle. The Escape takes on vehicles like the Jeep Liberty and Nissan Xterra (it’s even in the ‘SUV’ section on Ford’s website), and the Freestyle is, um, mature. On the other hand, the Edge clearly has the Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander in its sights. Its stylish body and revvy V6 are clearly designed with pavement in mind, and it has full-time all-wheel-drive rather than conventional four-wheel-drive.
From the outside, the Edge is indeed edgy, for lack of a better word. It sports Ford’s new standardized corporate grille, which with its 3 angled chrome slats looks rather like a Gillette Mach3 razor blade. That grille abuts the car’s headlamps, which are angled strongly forward to give the car an aggressive look, despite its stubby hood. A high beltline augments this effect, and the modern look is finished off with 18-inch chrome wheels and the notoriously popular clear tail lamps. Our tester, a top-of-the-line SEL AWD, came equipped with the rear duckbill spoiler, a worthwhile add-on for any car with a lift gate.
Our tester, an Edge SEL Plus with AWD, came in a very cool color. The Carbon Metallic gray wasn’t as snazzy as the burnt orange featured in most of Ford’s press kits and TV commercials, but it was very Mad Max-ish. Add that to the fact that the Edge looks like a small urban assault vehicle, and you have a vehicle that none of our younger staffers felt silly or effete in.
The Edge is obviously targeted at such younger buyers, judging by the TV spots and the official Edge website that condescends prospective. This can be risky, as this demographic has proved time and time again that it does not like to be marketed to – remember the Pontiac Aztek? The product is the most important thing for younger buyers, and we think the Edge delivers. It looks brawny and aggressive, not cute or wacky.
Stepping inside the Edge is like climbing inside a concept car. The windows are huge in length, yet short in height. Interior room is generous, and our Edge’s “Vista roof” – a must-have option – bathed the cabin in natural light. The Edge is not a luxury car, yet we still found our tester relatively well appointed. We got leather, navigation, power-adjustable front seats, and some other doodads. This correspondent felt that the level of features was appropriate to the car’s mission, and if the Edge is not luxurious enough there is a Lincoln version called the MKX, which is being reviewed by Roadfly as you read this article.
Our Edge was well equipped, with leather, an excellent navigation system, and the pricey but essential “Vista Roof.” This is probably the best part of driving the Edge, and if we could only have one option this would be it. The Vista roof replaces most of the sheet metal on the Edge’s roof with glass, and from the inside it appears as two glass panels. The panel for the rear seat is fixed and does not open, as in most novelty roofs of this sort. However, the front panel does open, and it is huge. It’s easily twice as long as a conventional moonroof, and the combination of its sheer size and the low profile of the Edge’s windows give it the feel of a targa-top sports car.
The Vista Roof has three possible configurations: fully closed (glass panels and sunshades fully clamped), which we never used; sunshades open (used mostly when the Edge was parked), and fully open (what we used during most of our seat time). This roof truly makes the car, and so transforms the driving experience that we can’t imagine life without it. It has a one-touch opening, thankfully, since being twice as large as a conventional roof makes it twice as time-consuming to open. However, the button must be held down to close the roof all the way.
Despite the Vista Roof’s huge size, there are few penalties in terms of noise or turbulence. There is a stout windscreen, and zipping along Virginia’s Dulles Toll Road with the roof opened on a 40-degree night required only moderate usage of the car’s heating system. The Vista Roof is about 40% more expensive than a standard moonroof at $1,395, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. The Edge is probably double the fun when equipped with this option, so that’s a pretty good return, so to speak.
The Edge was the first vehicle Roadfly has tested that features Ford’s new V6, so we were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to let it stretch its legs a bit. The new dual-overhead cam motor displaces 3.5 liters, and in the Edge makes 265 horsepower at 6250 rpm and 250 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm. Those are great numbers, and Ford has finally produced an engine that can compete on equal footing with Japanese offerings.
That sense of vindication made it all the sweeter as we wound the Edge to its 6500rpm redline. Reaching sixty in around nine seconds, the Edge is not blindingly fast, but it feels so and is quicker than much of its competition. The new V6 makes all the right sounds, and never sounds thrashy or asthmatic. Its six-speed automatic is mapped pretty well, and it’s rare to catch the Edge flat-footed when you want to get up and go. Our only complaint is that the auto tranny lacks a manual-shift function, which we’d really like in a vehicle this sporty.
Handling is another pleasant surprise. We hear a lot of corporate-speak about this company or that company offering car-like ride and handling on an SUV, but the Edge really walks the walk. The ride is indeed smooth, and because the edge is still a very tall and heavy vehicle despite its crossover roots, we can forgive the occasional clopping over bumps or potholes. There is very little body roll in normal, everyday cornering situations, and the Edge stays flat in maneuvers that would have traditional SUVs howling in protest.
It’s also infinitely more composed on the highway than a truck-based SUV, with no shimmying, wandering, or otherwise worrisome behavior. We’ve always thought that driving a big, body-on-frame SUV above 80 miles per hour took equal helpings of bravery and stupidity, but an Edge driver will happily require neither. High-speed cruising is all in a day’s work for this able crossover, and we wouldn’t hesitate to pile in for a long trip.
Braking is not outstanding, but the pedal feels firm and progressive, which is important in a vehicle like this. It does weigh upwards of two tons, so don’t expect to smoke any Miatas at the autocross. Gas mileage is decent, at an EPA rating of 17 city/24 highway for our AWD model. Our observed mileage was a bit less all around, but only because we couldn’t get enough of hearing that V6 rev. At least you can fill it with regular 87-octane gas, which isn’t bad considering that other motors with similar horsepower-to-liter ratios (around 75hp/liter) need the premium stuff.
All in all, the Edge is a great car. We are enthusiastic about it as a vehicle in its own right, but more so about what it means for America. The news out of Detroit hasn’t been great lately, and the focus has not been on the products. We think the Edge will change all that. The car has only just hit the showrooms, but if it’s priced competitively it will sell. Simple as that. It offers levels of refinement that are at long last reaching those of Japanese competitors, with a uniquely American style. So hop in an Edge and crack the roof open. It’s springtime in Detroit.