Ford's Edge has proven to be rather successful for the company, but as deputy editor Joe DeMatio wrote upon its launch, the model did "little to advance the art of the segment in which it competes." That may have been "business as usual" for the Ford Motor Company of yesteryear, but it isn't the case now. Ford thoroughly re-worked the Edge for the 2011 model year, and the technology, powertrain, and handling improvements packed into the new model could be enough to push the Edge to the head of its class.
Perhaps the most appealing enhancement to the 2011 Ford Edge is the optional MyFord Touch infotainment package. With MyFord Touch, drivers are given a pair of 4.2-inch LCD screens that flank the speedometer (just like the Ford Fusion Hybrid) and display pertinent information. The left screen always displays vehicle information, including fuel economy, tire pressures, and the status of a number of different subsystems. The right screen, however, will surely be more popular with today's drivers -- it displays information pertaining to the audio system, phone, climate control, and navigation system. Each screen has a dedicated five-way controller mounted in the steering wheel to toggle between displays.
Displaying all that information in the gauge cluster does little to wow your passengers, but they may take note of the massive 8.0-inch touch-screen display in the center stack, which controls the audio system, phone, climate control, and navigation. Each of these functions receives a corner of the screen, along with a distinctive background color, making it easy to identify which screen is active. Of course, if touching the screen proves too distracting, the driver can trigger commands through Ford's Sync voice-activated system.
The technology isn't confined to the cabin alone -- the mechanicals underneath the hood all receive some new features designed to increase both power and fuel economy.
Base Edge models receive a revised 3.5-liter V-6, which now produces 285 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque while delivering 27 mpg on the highway. The use of twin independent variable camshaft timing grants the 20 hp and 3 lb-ft boost over the 2010 Edge's 3.5-liter mill, and also helps boost fuel economy by approximately 2 mpg. A six-speed automatic channels power primarily to the front wheels, although all-wheel-drive is an option.
More interesting, however, is the debut of Ford's new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. The turbocharged I-4 with direct fuel injection is supposed to provide class-leading fuel economy without sacrificing power. Ford has yet to provide either fuel economy or output figures for the 2.0 EcoBoost, but we've been very impressed with the performance of Ford's other EcoBoost engine, the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 found in the likes of the Taurus SHO, Flex, and Lincoln MKS and MKT. One potential downside, however, is the lack of an all-wheel-drive option.
As enthusiasts, we were disappointed in the original Ford Edge's behavior on twisting roads. Crossovers aren't meant to be tossed around like sports cars, but we still expected more composure than Ford dialed in. For 2011, Ford made the 18-inch and 20-inch wheels half an inch wider, which is supposed to enhance steering feel. To further improve handling (to say nothing of handling the larger rolling stock), Ford also adjusted the dampers, springs, and stabilizer bars across the line. An upgraded brake system includes larger rear rotors, different friction materials, different brake booster gain, and a revised pedal ratio. Ford says these revisions should provide a stiffer pedal feel, which is a most welcome improvement.
Those who want the sportiest crossover Ford builds will once again look to the Edge Sport. For 2011, the model receives a 3.7-liter V-6, similar to the engine used in the 2011 Mustang. The slight increase in displacement yields 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, but doesn't demand premium fuel. The Edge Sport shares its six-speed automatic with the standard Edge models, but receives steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and programming that won't force a shift in manual mode -- even if the driver hits the V-6's redline.
Sport models also feature unique 22-inch alloys wheels with tuxedo black accents, smoked headlights and taillights, unique body color front and rear lower fascias, body color side skirts, and oval chrome exhaust tips. Inside, the Edge Sport gains lots of liquid silver smoke accents, aluminum pedals, and paddle shifters.