One of the features buyers liked most about earlier Edges was the acceleration. Ford has tuned its latest engine and transmission to offer lots of power away from the stoplight. The accelerator pedal tuning, in fact, requires a bit of learning to avoid jerky takeoffs from the abundant power at the top of the pedal travel.
Beyond that, though, the acceleration is "linear and seamless," qualities that Ford's Scott Slimak said are now a core element of the "Ford DNA" characteristics built into every new vehicle.
Beyond the 3.5-liter, the other engine option comes only in the low-volume 2011 Edge Sport, fitted with a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6--40 more horsepower than last year's--mated to the six-speed automatic, but with paddle shifters added for sportier gear changes.
It also sports gigantic 22-inch wheels and low-profile tires. Behind the wheel, the Edge Sport handles nicely, and although its roll center is actually a touch higher due to the huge wheels, we found that it cornered flatter than the base model.
While it had a bit more road noise and a more active ride, we were surprised that it wasn't rougher still. Overall, the Edge Sport made us wish for the suspension modifications and paddle shifters applied to the base vehicle without the visual cues.
The Sport's fuel economy falls slightly, to 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway (or 17 and 23 mpg with all-wheel-drive). Ford views it as the model for a Mustang owner who has just found himself with kids, and wants to stay in touch with good handling and a sporty feel.
The front seats are nicely upholstered and comfortable, although we were baffled by Ford's inconsistent power seat controls: fully powered for the driver, but a power lower cushion with a manual recline lever for the front passenger.
Ford claims that the 2011 Edge has best-in-class legroom in the second row, and we're not inclined to doubt them. The rear seats now recline, and we fit four 6-foot adults into the Edge without complaint.
Build quality was very good considering that we were driving pre-production vehicles. We heard no interior creaks or other noises, and the noise suppression is good on the base car. The Edge Sport, as noted, produces more tire noise, an inevitable price to pay for its huge, very low-profile tires.
The 2011 Edge now has bottle holders in all four doors, as well as the usual (and growing) array of pockets, bins, trays, and other areas to put stuff. It also has a Volvo-esque recess and tray behind the console, about which Ford said nothing at all--perhaps in deference to the recent sale of Volvo to the Chinese firm Geely.
More and smarter electronics
One of the areas Ford focused on for the 2011 Edge was improving the brakes, both in feel and performance. The rear rotors are larger this year, and the braking progression has been retuned for more initial bite and shorter overall stopping distances.
Other brake-related features added for 2011 include hill-start assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward at stops; trailer sway control adapted from Ford's F-150 pickup line; and adaptive cruise control and collision warning, which use front-facing radar to calculate the distance to the car ahead.
There's also Ford's Blindspot Information System, which flashes a light when a car in in the adjacent lane out of sight of the mirros, along with cross-traffic alert, which can detect traffic approaching from the side when backing the car out of a parking space.