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Diversifying its lineup of utility vehicles was one of the smartest product moves Ford made in the past years. The Ford Edge, one of those calculated moves into a growing crossover market, has really paid off—pulling in shoppers who wouldn’t quite want the brand’s Explorer or Escape SUVs, and those who decided they didn’t need squared-off ruggedry (and faux-ruggedry) to get a higher seating point and a little more comfort and versatility.
Now a second generation of the Edge is on the market, for 2015, and it’s more of a global affair. The new Edge starts with truly world-class underpinnings—those of the current Ford Fusion, which has been named a Best Car To Buy and one of our highest-rated sedans—and looks outward to other markets, even China, where a long-wheelbase, three-row version will be built.
Ford calls the new Edge more athletic, and that’s no exaggeration, whether you’re talking about its styling or its performance. Here in the U.S., the Edge lifts some of its cues from the Fusion, along with a shoulder line that wouldn’t be out of place on a BMW. Ford has toned down the shiny chrome-bar grille, replacing it with a look that now looks a bit awkward-doppelganger with the Hyundai Santa Fe from some angles. The Edge Sport best escapes that look, with blacked-out details that bring out some of the best aspects of its design—and we see some sport-wagon undertones in the taillamps and lower-body work. Altogether, it's a look that upgrades the Edge's SUV silhouette, pushing the design closer to a premium look without cutting into its genderless appeal.
Inside, there are no qualifiers necessary; the 2015 Edge is far above and beyond the outgoing generation, with better interior finishes, and the dash shape that builds on some of Ford’s other models like the Focus and Escape. It promises to be a more functional place, too: the former capacitive-touch bars for volume and fan speed have been axed, with knobs and buttons making a welcome return to the center console.
Under the hood there’s a mix of new and carryover powertrains. The base engine is Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost, but it’s now rated at 245 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque; beyond those numbers, its drivability is better thanks to twin-scroll turbocharger technology that reduces turbo lag. You can now get the turbo four with all-wheel drive, and with a tow package it’s good to pull 3,500 pounds; we really think the 2.0T will be perfectly adequate for most needs, but for those who must have a V-6, the 280-hp, 3.5-liter engine has been carried over, as a $425 option. The most intriguing—and appealing, after a brief drive—model in the lineup is the Edge Sport, which subs in a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 2.7-liter V-6. It's essentially the same design already being installed into the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup; here it makes 315 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. Its understated performance look goes well with its driving personality—strong and confident, with no need to scream it out.
On any Edge, a six-speed automatic is standard, as are paddle shifters, and normal and and sport driving modes; there’s no reason to discount the Edge for not having eight or nine speeds, as with the strong torque output of the EcoBoost engines especially, all you’ll miss is the hesitation that extra gears can bring. Fuel economy ratings are good, but not as class-leading as you might guess given the EcoBoost badging. 2.0T models range up to 20 mpg city, 30 highway with front-wheel drive, while the Edge Sport AWD model gets 17/24 mpg.
Underneath the new 2015 Ford Edge, a fully independent suspension takes the place of the former twist-beam rear end. In front it's control arms, in back it's composed of multiple links. And to complement this, there’s a new steering system that really does give a precise, reassuring feel, tracking well straight-ahead, and taking a set into corners without fuss. The Sport model gets its own damper and spring rates, as well as rear monotube dampers, and standard 21-inch wheels, with 20s as an option. But with active noise cancellation, it actually rides quieter than the other models on coarse pavement, and leaves only the pleasant, off-cadence thrum of the larger EcoBoost engine. Across the lineup, there’s a muted sharpness to the driving experience; the Edge isn’t downright edgy in any drive respects, yet it’s precise and responsive.
Up until now, the Edge has been a half-step behind rivals in interior appointments, but that changes dramatically with the 2015 model. The biggest improvement is that there are now soft-touch surfaces everywhere—not just up high, around the driver—and the cabin is seriously quiet and composed. It now rides on the Fusion's wheelbase of 112.2 inches (up 1 inch), while it’s gain of nearly four inches in overall length allows an extra seven cubic feet behind the rear seat, along with a total of 73.4 cubic feet behind the front seat and more than 39 cubic feet with the rear seat up. It adds up to good seating space, fundamentally, although short, flat cushions both in front and in back will be limiting factors to long road-trip comfort. Small-item storage is abundant and mostly well-designed, with a center-console pass-through and even a storage drawer to the left of the steering wheel.
The Edge has fared well in safety tests, with top-tier results in all but the IIHS small overlap frontal test. This year it adds a new airbag mounted in the glovebox frame, to better protect passenger knees. Bluetooth and a rearview camera are standard across the board, while available safety features include LED headlamps, forward-collision warnings, parking assist with perpendicular parking now factored in, and rear-seat inflatable seat belts. And with new front- and rear-camera system and parking sensors, it’s the easiest Edge to park, ever.
The 2015 Ford Edge comes in SE, SEL, Titanium, and Sport models, and our only caution points in the direction of pricing: If you want some of that great safety-tech, and some of the best tech features offered in the Edge, Ford pushes the bottom-line price way up. And many of the most desirable features in general—like the panoramic Vista Roof, a heated steering wheel, remote start, Active Park Assist, upgraded audio, and the inflatable belts—are reserved for the Titanium and Sport. The Titanium effectively replaces the Limited as the top trim in the lineup, as Ford has done for most of its other models; it’s Ford’s attempt to recast its top model in more of a tech-centric (rather than traditional-luxury) light. And there is one potentially good value compromise: You can add heated leather seats and MyFord Touch to the SEL for $2,700,
Altogether, the Edge ends up making sense as two things: a well-equipped Titanium or Sport, with all the 'good stuff' that reaches well above $40k yet rivals versions of luxury models like the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX, or as a value-based SE or SEL that takes on the Chevrolet Equinox or Honda CR-V, with a more premium look and feel. We haven't sampled the Edge in the latter form, but we'd bet it still stands up pretty well.