Perhaps it was only a matter of time, but Ford has created its first performance SUV with the 2019 Edge ST midsize crossover, which goes on sale this summer with a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine and a new look shared with the rest of the refreshed Edge lineup.
Adding the first ST to the SUV lineup underscores, once again, that Ford is a truck company—a point it continues to punctuate with each new vehicle launch. The F-Series is its bread and butter, and the range is expanding with the addition of a diesel-powered F-150 coming this summer and the long-awaited Ford Ranger midsize pickup.
Equally key are SUVs. Ford sold almost 800,000 SUVs last year and has no intention of slowing the pace. The EcoSport subcompact crossover is the latest new nameplate for Ford in the U.S., a new Explorer is in the works along with a Lincoln counterpart, and the newly named Lincoln Nautilus replaces the MKX. Ford’s first long-range electric vehicle will also be an SUV.
As the truck side of the business expands, the automaker continues to pull back on cars. The Fiesta might soon be discontinued in the U.S.; China got a new Taurus, but the U.S. did not; the next-gen Focus will come from China; and future updates and production plans for the Fusion appear uncertain with a redesign planned for China in 2020 but not for North America.
Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, said he is reallocating $7 billion in capital from cars to SUVs and trucks. Some of that spending has gone to the Ford Edge, which gets a significant upgrade for the 2019 model.
The Edge, which made its debut in 2006, was the brand’s first car-based unibody crossover. It was also the first to add a Sport trim level in 2009 and to have the MyFord Touch infotainment system in 2011, which would have been a much bigger honor if the system and touchscreen weren’t so buggy, creating quality issues that the brand spent years rectifying.
But it does not take from the fact that Ford sees the Edge, with 2 million global sales to date, as a platform to test new things. Especially as the segment has grown 50 percent during the Edge’s lifetime and is projected to grow another 9 percent this year to 2.4 million, said group SUV marketing manager Michael O’Brien.
So when work began about two and a half years ago on updating the Edge, the plans grew to include a performance version worthy of ST badging. The Ford Performance team added horsepower to the 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, taking it to 335 hp from 315 in the 2017 Edge Sport. Torque is a healthy 380 lb-ft with standard all-wheel drive to handle it. Fuel economy numbers are not out yet, but the 2017 Edge Sport with this engine is rated at 17/24 mpg city/highway.
The rest of the Edge lineup is equipped with Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. The direct-injection turbocharged engine gets 250 hp, which is an increase of 5 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.
The Edge will be Ford’s first use of its new eight-speed automatic transmission with start/stop, which was developed in-house. Ford developed the outgoing six-speed with General Motors, and the two partnered to make new nine- and 10-speeds that are slowly entering the market. New for the Edge family is an e-shifter with a rotary dial, freeing more room in the center console. When the vehicle doors are opened, it automatically goes into park.
There are paddle shifters, which in the 2019 Edge ST are fully manual. The button for Sport mode is in the middle of the rotary shifter and changes the throttle response and shifting patterns to stay closer to redline—it rev matches the downshift in the apex and prevents upshifting on an extended corner. The exhaust note is louder; the engine braking is sharper.
You can turn off the stability control or go into “relaxed mode” to slide the car around. Don’t worry about SUV’s tippier stance; roll control stability is always active.
To earn ST status, the sport suspension was tuned for more damping, and the brakes are larger, especially if you opt for the performance brake package with exposed red 345mm vented rear rotors. In addition to the 20-inch wheels, there are optional 21-inch five-spoke wheels in gloss black, including the cap. Ford will offer a performance summer tire because Ford engineers fully expect some owners to take their Edge ST to the track.
The thinking behind an Edge ST is that people will continue to move out of sedans and into utility vehicles, but not as many are moving out of performance cars, which suggests a reluctance to give up spirited driving. Hence, logic suggests a performance SUV hits a sweet spot. “People want an SUV but still want to drive aggressively,” vehicle engineering manager Jonathan Crocker said.
Currently about 10 percent of Edge sales are the Sport—a trim level that goes away with the addition of the ST. Executives think the ST could capture at least as many 2019 Edge sales.
Designer Steve Gilmore, who also worked on the 2015 Edge, wanted this latest update to look more confident and aggressive. It starts with a bigger grille—both higher and wider—fronting a hood that was brought forward. The LED headlamps were pulled to the corners for a greater sense of width. The optional LED foglamps are designed to work with the headlamps to create the image of a C.
For 2019 there are new colors inside and out: four exterior and three new interior palettes. There are also four new wheel choices, including 19-inch aluminum painted wheels on the Titanium.
The Edge ST comes in an exclusive “Ford performance blue,” and the color extends into the lower bumper that is chrome on the regular Edge. The ST has blacked out hexagonal upper and lower grilles compared with the slats on the rest of the Edge family. The ST drops the chrome strip on the back of the regular models, and the dual exhaust tips have a unique square shape.
Stepping inside reveals the “Ford performance”-emblazed sill plate, ST badging on the leather steering wheel, and the black leather seats with extra bolstering just for the ST.
On the safety side, there is a lot of standard equipment across the SE, SEL, Titanium, and ST, including hill-start assist, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, auto high-beams, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning with brake support. Active park assist is an option.
A new post-collision braking system stops the car from continuing to move after an initial crash. Also new is evasive steering assist, which helps you apply the right amount of steering to avoid a collision, a first for a nonluxury SUV, Ford driver assist technology manager Scott Lindstrom said. It will also be in the Lincoln Nautilus. The Edge also gets adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and lane centering to keep the SUV safely in its lane and at correct speed to not hit the vehicle in front.
For 2019 the Edge family has an embedded modem and Wi-Fi to create a hot spot with a 50-foot range for the 10 devices that can be connected to it—guaranteed to make you popular at the soccer field.
With the FordPass Connect app on your smartphone, you can locate, start, and unlock your car remotely. The car’s software also supports Amazon’s Alexa voice service, so you can talk to the digital assistant from your car. The Edge also has a 12-speaker B&O Play audio system from Harman that was tuned for the Edge. Titanium has features such as wireless charging and remote start.
The Edge is built at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario.