The automotive landscape has been changing big time, but nowhere more so than in the crossover market. The Ford brand is a prime example of how much things have progressed with the passage of time among consumers with flair for high-specced cars that come with all the paraphernalia of luxury.
Prior to the era where the Ford is finding its way into family and office garages, the car company headquartered in America was once awash with truck-based SUVs; all but the full-sized Expedition off-shoot have gone away in favour of car-based crossovers.
The transition was completed with the introduction of the soft-road Explorer and, more recently, the Escape, and the one consistent model has been the Edge that has been designed to be a crossover from the get-go.
In the beginning, it was a rather crude piece that did not do anything particularly well. It has since morphed into a well-rounded vehicle. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cabin which is now more attractive and finished in high-quality materials. Indeed, it shows excellent attention to detail.
On the road, Ford Edge delivers better fuel economy than truck-based Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in the area of fuel consumption ratings. It ranks near the top among comparable crossovers such as the Dodge Journey and Toyota Venza, regardless of engine or drive configuration.
The fuel-economy leader in the Edge line-up is the 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine which is one of the most sophisticated engines in Ford’s line-up. With an advanced turbocharging setup, fully variable valve timing and extra-efficient direct injection, EcoBoost packs significant wallop for its size.
With a peak of 240 horsepower, this specification makes 45 fewer horsepower than Edge’s standard 3.5-litre V6, or just 15 percent less. Yet the four-cylinder is nearly 50 percent smaller than the V6 by displacement.
Inside, for example, everything is touch-sensitive, including the large central screen that gives the driver access to the phone, navigation and climate and entertainment functions. More impressive is the manner in which the instrumentation can be customised through two screens that flank the speedometer.
Ford Edge fits the crossover theme right down to the way it drives. Its ride, handling and general dynamic behaviour are much more like that in the typical sedan than in any truck. Yet the Edge offers the commanding view and longer in-traffic sight lines that one expects in a pickup or SUV.
Apart from few shortcomings not peculiar to Ford within automotive circles, the Edge is always pleasant to drive, and generally responsive to the steering wheel. In aggressive manoeuvres, it feels more top heavy than a sedan, with more lag time as the mass of the body catches up to what the tyres and suspension are doing. Regardless, the Edge is more than responsive enough for typical family duty, and it travels comfortably smooth in all circumstances.
At the moment, Ford pitches the EcoBoost as the best of all worlds, with the power of a V6 and the economy of a four-cylinder. If an engine is running at full throttle and producing 240 hp, it’s using essentially the same amount of energy (or gasoline) whether it has six, four or two cylinders. So if a driver uses full throttle and all 240 hp a lot of the time, actual fuel economy gains with the EcoBoost will be much less significant.
But that doesn’t mean there are no fuel savings. The four-cylinder will use less fuel than the V6 when it’s idling, coasting down and sometimes when cruising at a steady pace, and if the driver is more judicious with the throttle in daily driving, the EcoBoost engine should deliver substantial fuel economy gains. EcoBoost earns an EPA rating of 21/30 mpg city/highway, which Ford claims is higher than any crossover or SUV in its size class.