2011 Ford Edge Sport

Review and photos by
Chris Chase, Autos.ca

The 2011 Ford Edge is available with a bunch of high-tech comfort and convenience features, including SYNC, MyFord Touch, and touch-sensitive centre stack controls, all designed to reduce driver distraction without reducing the vehicle’s functionality. What does it say about me, then, that my favourite part of the redesigned interior is the big, analog speedometer that anchors the instrument cluster?

2011 Ford Edge Sport

2011 Ford Edge Sport

MyFord Touch is Ford’s take on control interface systems that have become common in luxury vehicles: think BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI or Mercedes-Benz’ COMAND set-ups. Here, all of the car’s major systems – climate control, audio, communications and navigation – can be controlled through the dashboard touch screen, and basic functions for each can be managed through steering wheel buttons and a digital display in the instrument cluster. Between MyFordTouch and SYNC, you can control just about any function in the car without taking your hands off the wheel, and there’s something to be said for that.

I’d suggest there’s also something to be said for keeping car interiors really simple, which is the best way to avoid distraction and keep a driver’s attention focused on the road ahead and potential risks all around. A good example here is the controls for the heated front seats, which are accessible only through the touch-screen, requiring two steps (accessing the climate control display, if it’s not already prioritized, and then turning the seat warmers on or off). I admit I’m a bit of a traditionalist, but I’d prefer buttons or switches on the centre stack or console.

There are audio and climate controls on the centre stack, below the screen, on an admittedly slick-looking touch-sensitive panel (lower-spec models get a slightly different-looking stack with controls that work similarly). With bare hands, these controls generally work well, but there were a couple of times I needed a second or third touch to get the car to do what I wanted it to. Gloved or mittened hands present a challenge, and require firmer pressure to get the message through. Ford’s prioritizing of MyFordTouch shows in the arrangement of the centre stack controls: the individual buttons are hard to identify at a quick glance, and the flat panel means that finding a button by feel alone is impossible.

Both MyFord Touch and SYNC are standard in Limited and the top-end Sport trim my tester came dressed in, optional in the SEL and not offered in the base SE. There are a number of notable safety options, too, including a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert that comes as part of the reasonably-price Vision Package. Cross-traffic alert is the more valuable component; it proves very useful in busy parking lots where your ability to see whether it’s clear to back out of a spot is blocked by larger vehicles next to yours. It works well, to the point that it warned me of a car driving away on a road parallel to the parking lane I was backing into. Another option (in Limited trim only) is adaptive cruise control (which automatically controls the distance between your car and the one in front) with collision warning and brake assist; Ford says this is a class-exclusive. These are the cherries on top of the expected anti-lock brakes, traction/stability control, airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners that are standard in all models.

Maybe my love for this Edge’s speedometer is fuelled by the fact that it so simply relays the one piece of information that is nearly constantly relevant to the everyday driver. Because, despite all the tech worming its way into our vehicles (and I’m not one to knock it, necessarily), isn’t driving the central purpose of a car or truck?

Speaking of driving: the Edge’s base engine is a 3.5-litre V6, as before, but new for 2011 is a 3.7-litre motor that’s unique to the Sport model, and boasts 305 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, bonuses of 20 hp and 27 lb-ft compared to the 3.5-litre. The 3.5 can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive, depending on trim, and the 3.7-litre Sport is an all-wheeler by default. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.

The last Edge I tested was a 2007 model, with its 265-hp engine; the new 3.7-litre is a bigger upgrade, power-wise, than its specs suggest. The Edge Sport positively scoots off the line, and there’s passing power aplenty, accompanied by a great exhaust note and aided by a transmission that downshifts promptly when acceleration is called for. If solid performance isn’t enough to brag to your buddies about, then throw in the fact that the Mustang uses the same motor (with the changes necessary for that car’s rear-wheel drive layout).

Along with the big motor, the Edge Sport gets 22-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and steering wheel paddle shifters. Add to that all the luxo-goodies that come standard in the next-rung-down Limited model, including leather, heated and powered driver and passenger seats, automatic headlights, reverse sensing system and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The Edge Sport’s firmer suspension makes for impressive cornering performance for a nearly 4,500-pound (2,029 kg) crossover, but the trade-off is a very harsh ride. Upsides are nicely-weighted steering, near-perfect brake pedal response and little road or wind noise at speed. This is no sports car, but it’s entertaining on a nice road taken at seven-tenths of the car’s limits; it’s also as close as you’ll get to driving satisfaction in a mid-sized crossover without breaking the $50,000 barrier to get a BMW X5 or Infiniti FX.

I don’t normally go for the big-wheel look, but I think the 22s are a good fit under the Edge’s slab-sided body, even if they verge on automotive caricature; you’ll either love the look, or find it terribly tacky. Those who dig aftermarket wheels and suspensions might wish the car sat an inch or two lower, to eliminate some “fender gap.” One practical downside is that these tires are expensive to replace: the Pirelli Scorpions that come with the truck from the factory cost $328 each in Canada, according to 1010Tire.com. With low-profile tires, there’s also the very real risk of wheel damage caused by hitting a pothole (and early spring in Ottawa means lots and lots of potholes). Despite appearances, the Edge Sport’s Pirellis are “all-season” tires, and Ford decided to let me see just how well they would handle winter by opting against replacing them with winter rubber. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Edge managed a few centimetres of wet snow, though I give most of the credit to the Edge’s quick-to-react all-wheel drive and stability control systems.

The Edge Sport’s official fuel consumption estimates are 12.2/8.8 L/100 km (city/highway); my tester managed 15.9 L/100 km in chilly city driving. Fellow tester Paul Williams reported an average of 11 L/100 km on a recent highway trip he took in the same car; both of those figures just about match my 2007 experience.

Typical of Ford, the seats are wonderful, with just enough padding to be comfortable, but not so much that it feels like you’re driving your grandma’s chesterfield. The back seat is roomy, and the floor nearly flat, which makes the centre rear seat a little bit less of a short-straw draw. The rear seats fold almost flat to enhance carrying capacity.

Base price for the Edge is $27,999 for the SE FWD model. By the time you get to my tester’s Sport trim, the MSRP is $43,499, which includes the 3.7-litre engine, big wheels and uprated suspension, but not much more for the $3,700 price premium over the next-step-down Limited AWD model. Options on my tester included a $650 Vision Package of blind spot information system with cross traffic alert and rain sensing wipers; the $1,000 Drive Entry Package, which adds keyless access and pushbutton start, power liftgate and remote start; and the Canadian Touring Package, consisting of a two-panel sunroof and voice-activated navigation system, which is a relative steal at $1,850. All in, my test car was worth $47,129 before freight.

In spite of all the technology Ford has built into the Edge, what makes it a winner are the things that it’s done well since it was introduced in 2007: it’s a very pleasant driver, it carries people and stuff with ease, and the 2011 model’s exterior changes (notwithstanding, perhaps, the Sport’s big wheels) make it even better-looking. The tech stuff is cool, but when it comes to getting the information I need for the task at hand – driving – I’m glad Ford nailed that speedometer.

Pricing: 2011 Ford Edge Sport

Base price: $43,499

Options: $3,500 (Canadian Touring Package of panoramic sunroof and navigation, $1,850; Vision Package of blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers, $650; Driver Entry Package of keyless access with push-button start, remote starter, power liftgate and alarm, $1,000)

A/C tax: $100

Freight: $1,400

Price as tested: $48,529

Specifications

Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Ford Edge

Crash test results

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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