DETROIT, Michigan — In the Blue Oval’s hierarchy, sport/utility vehicles are second in importance to its pickup trucks, and so the Ford Edge goes into the 2019 model year with a major mid-cycle refresh and replacement of the Sport model with a new ST.
“We’re going to take it up quite a bit,” says Jonathan Crocker, vehicle engineering manager of the “more dynamic, more nimble” 2019 Ford Edge ST. The new Edge makes its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. If you’ve been waiting for a tall-ish SUV to offer sport sedan handling at less-than-BMW/Porsche/Alfa Romeo prices, your prayers have been answered.
That’s the automaker’s message, at least. We will not get a chance to drive the new Ford Edge ST until it’s closer to the ’19 model’s on-sale date this summer.
The Edge ST will come with an updated 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6, rated at 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque and coupled to a new eight-speed automatic with “a very steep first” gear and a “very long-legged eighth,” Crocker says, replacing the outgoing model’s six-speed. Of course, the eight-speed also will be standard on the softer SE, SEL and Titanium trims, which come with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo-four rated at 250 horsepower (up 5 hp) and 275 pound-feet of torque.
The Edge ST will come only with all-wheel-drive, while the others will be offered as front-wheel-drive or AWD.
Visuals on the ST version include a wide mesh grille “for optimal cooling,” deep side skirts, dual exhaust tips, and ST touches on the steering wheel, seat backs and scuff plates. ST options include 21-inch wheels, Ford Performance Blue paint, and the Performance Brake Package with bright red calipers.
Inside, the seats have more lateral support than quotidian Edges, and seats are black leather with Nico suede inserts, and silver stitching. It’s the only ST interior choice.
As with most unibody model makeovers, sheetmetal design changes for the 2019 Ford Edge lineup are limited essentially to the front, forward of the a-pillar, and to the rear liftgate. The hood has been redesigned to feature a “layering” effect, and non-STs get four chrome grillebars to add visual width. Lamps are full LED, with c-shaped daytime running lights extending down to the foglamps, which are flanked by closeable aerodynamic air curtains.
There’s a new horizontal chrome accent above the taillamps on non-STs, with the taillamps redesigned to look more taut, according to Edge design manager Steve Gilmore.
All 2019 Ford Edges come with a new e-shifter for the eight-speed automatic, and wireless charging on the center console.
This being a modern sport/utility vehicle, connectivity is as important as the ST option, and Ford touts “three smart technologies” integrated into the ’19 Edge, according to program manager Joe Baker.
It comes with FordPass WiFi capability, able to connect up to 10 devices within a range of about 50 feet. Second, the FordPass App links to your smartphone for control of the Edge from anywhere in the world, and third, a link to Amazon’s Alexa device is embedded into the center screen. It’s the second Ford to offer the Alexa connection, following the 2018 Expedition.
A 12-speaker B&O PLAY Premium Audio system by Harman Kardon is available.
Safety and convenience technology includes standard hill-start assist, blind spot warning with cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam headlamps, forward collision warning, pre-collision assist with pedestrian protection and post-collision braking.
Options include enhanced active park assist, evasive steering assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and lane centering.
Being a two-row midsize SUV, the Ford Edge caters to a more upscale clientele than the compact Escape or three-row, family friendly Explorer. Ford says the take rate on the Edge’s higher trim levels have increased from 30 percent to 36 percent in the last four years. While Ford’s SUV models accounted for 796,302 units sold in calendar 2017, that’s still 100,162 shy of the number of F-Series Ford sold last year.
Ford recently announced it has reallocated $7 billion of research & development capital from cars to SUVs and trucks. The next Ford Focus will come from a Chinese assembly plant and the Fusion has a much less-certain future, so if you’re a fan of the brand’s sporty ST line, it’s probably time to focus your enthusiast’s interests on the 2019 Ford Edge.