The 2008 Ford Edge presents a more urban design than a typical SUV, fulfilling part of the crossover credo, yet its all-wheel-drive and towing capability let it take on standard SUV tasks. The Edge's engine pulls reasonably well, but fuel economy isn't great. And while not designed for seven passengers like some larger crossovers and SUVs, the Edge handles five with luggage easily enough.
Ford's raft of tech options is available in the Edge, and our test car came loaded with a navigation system and Sync, this last a standard feature at the Limited trim level. During our time with the Edge, Sync once again proved its usefulness, and we can't imagine seriously considering any car that doesn't have comparable features.
Test the tech: Sync texting
When Ford and Microsoft first demonstrated Sync for us, we got to see how it would read text messages, and even translate common abbreviations such as LOL. But with the past two Sync-enabled cars we reviewed, the Ford Focus and the Mercury Sable, none of the phones we tried worked with the texting feature. So when we got the Ford Edge in, we determined to put this feature to the test.
First, we had to find a phone that worked with Sync's texting feature. We had no luck with an iPhone, a Samsung SGH-D807, or a Samsung SGH-T619 in our earlier reviews. So we did some research, finding a list of compatible phones on the Ford's Sync site. This list showed which phone worked with which features, very useful for our purposes, and we were surprised that only nine phones worked with texting, including the Motorola Razr V3xx, the Motorola Slvr L7, the Sony Ericsson W810i, and the Nokia 6133. Checking around the office, we didn't find these exact phones, but we did come up with a Nokia 6131 and a Sony Ericsson K790a.
Pairing each phone was easy using the onscreen interface, and we particularly like that Sync generated a unique six-digit PIN for each phone, a level of security that is generally unknown in car Bluetooth systems. We tried out the Nokia 6131 by first trying to send a text from the car to the phone. Sync doesn't let you type in an original message, which would be unsafe, but provides some preset phrases, such as "Call you later" and "Be there in 10 minutes." We touched the screen to select one and hit the send command. Moments later the text appeared on the phone we had sent it to, with the postscript, "This message was sent from my Ford." We hope this text is customized for Mercury and Lincoln cars. But when we replied to the text with our unpaired phone, it appeared on the Nokia 6131 but Sync did not pick it up. The Nokia 6131 only had half the equation.
We turned to the Sony Ericsson K790a and repeated the first part of the test, sending the preset text message from car to unpaired phone. Sure enough, the text with its Ford postscript showed up on our phone. Next, we tried to reply with the simple phrase "Let's go. LOL." This time we had full functionality, with a message appearing on the Edge's screen telling us we had a new text. We hit the OK button and Sync read the message out to us, translating LOL into "laughing out loud." In our subsequent texting back and forth, we found that Sync wouldn't translate WTF, merely reading out each letter. We should also note that the K790a also supports Sync's other cutting-edge feature of streaming music over Bluetooth, which is also only supported by a few phones.
In the cabin
Although we liked the stitched leather seats in the 2008 Ford Edge Limited, the dashboard was covered in hard plastics. There were a few nice touches for the interior, such as buttons in the cargo area that make the rear seats fold down. That's the limit of their techiness, however, as you'll need to use muscle to get them back up. We also had the optional Panoramic Vista Roof, which puts one big sunroof over the front seats, extending back into the rear passenger area a little, and a smaller fixed glass pane over the rear seats. We figured about two prom couples could stand through the sunroof, with it fully open. Both roof panes also feature powered sunshades.
With the navigation option present, the LCD sits at the top of the instrument panel, its touch screen within easy reach of the driver. The graphics for this system are generally poor, but big buttons make the interface very usable. Sync gives you voice-command options for connected MP3 players and paired phones, but not for the navigation system. We like the functionality of this navigation system, which makes it easy to find destinations through different methods, such as addresses, points of interest, and freeway on- or off-ramps. Its route guidance is also decent, plus it has text to speech, where it will read out the names of upcoming streets.
The music interface uses the same ugly style of graphics as the navigation system, but again, it is a very intuitive and usable interface. It does a good job of presenting music on MP3 CDs loaded in its six-disc changer, or letting you sift through satellite radio categories. But we didn't spend much time listening to those sources, as its MP3 player integration is so good. We plugged in a Zune and an iPod Nano, and got the same excellent functionality with both. Touching the music library button on the screen let us browse artists, albums, genres, playlists, and songs from our MP3 player. A button labeled Similar Music set Sync to create a never-ending playlist on the fly, based on what it thinks are similar songs to what's currently playing. In practice, we didn't find Sync's DJ work to be all that accurate, and we don't like that it stops the current song to start the new one when you hit the button, but it works OK as a somewhat random playlist.
We weren't terribly impressed by the audio quality in the Edge. The music was loud enough, and a subwoofer in the cargo area adds some good bass, but separation is very poor, leading to a generally muted sound. You won't hear glistening highs or thumping lows with this system.
In our tech test, we covered some features of Sync's Bluetooth cell phone integration. Sync is compatible with a much wider array of phones when it comes to basic features, such as downloading phonebooks and call history. Those features alone put it in with the top systems we've seen from BMW and Audi, but what puts it over the top is how you can use voice commands, speaking any name in your phonebook to make a call. Sync also displays phonebook entries on its screen, so you can choose any contact from the LCD.
Under the hood
The brawny exterior styling of the 2008 Ford Edge seems to make up for the fact that it's not an SUV and hints at its trucklike driving experience. Although the Edge is built on a car platform, it doesn't feel nimble. Plenty of oversteer makes lane changes and other maneuvers a deliberate affair. The 3.5-liter V-6 moves it forward well, but doesn't give a huge push. It boasts 265 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 250 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm, a decent amount for a car of this size. But the six-speed automatic it's mated to keeps the Edge from spending too much time in the high-rpm zone. And although there is a low range on the transmission, there is no manual gear selection.
We slugged the Edge around a few mountain roads, seeing how it performed at a brisk clip around the corners. The vehicle stayed reasonably planted as we cut through the turns, its all-wheel drive no doubt adding some traction. We didn't push it beyond its grip on the road, as the Edge feels too heavy and high up for that kind of behavior, beginning to deliver disconcerting body roll as the corners get harder.
For fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2008 Ford Edge Limited with all-wheel drive at 15mpg city and 22mpg highway. During our time with the car, the meter barely budged from 16.8 mpg. This isn't a great number, and we would like to see the Edge push closer to 20 mpg, in the range of other V-6 cars we've tested. But even though its fuel economy isn't great, its emissions aren't bad, with a ULEV II rating from California's Air Resources Board.
Our 2008 Ford Edge Limited AWD comes in with a base price of $32,070, putting it over the $30,000 mark without options. Our option list included the $395 tow package, $1,995 for navigation, and $1,395 for that nice Vista roof. We also had 20-inch wheels for $895, Sirius satellite radio for $195, and a power liftgate for $490. Sync comes standard at the Limited trim. These options, with the $705 destination charge, bring the total for our Edge up to $38,140, territory that seems a bit high for the Edge. As a point of comparison, the seven-passenger Ford Taurus X goes for about the same price, although we don't care for its body style.
For our ratings, the Edge earns an average score for performance. It's not great, but not bad, and its low fuel economy is made up for by its emissions rating. Sync keeps its cabin tech score above average, as few cars have the capabilities this system offers. As for design, we like the looks of the Edge, and the interior space is very functional.