Although only 4 years old, the Edge is an important enough model for Ford that in its second generation, as the 2011 Ford Edge, it serves as a showcase for an innovative interior interface. Not only is the instrument cluster configurable, the center stack uses a touch panel for audio and climate controls.
But the 2011 Edge gets more than just a new dashboard; this model sees the introduction of three new engines along with revised body styling. Ford sent us the highest trim model, the Sport with all-wheel drive.
As a crossover, the Edge includes seating for five plus an ample cargo area. The styling update for the 2011 model is not radical. The Edge retains its bulky, squat shape, but gets a more curvy front-end and smoother metal for the sides and rear pillars. White LED parking light strips set into the front fascia make a nice addition to the car.
The Sport trim Ford Edge gets these 22-inch wheels standard.
In our Sport trim model, Ford's three-bar grille is black instead of chrome, and a big air duct sits below the grille. As an unexpected bonus, this car rode on 22-inch wheels, standard on the Sport.
The most visible update is the dashboard. Building on the design of the instrument cluster in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the 2011 Edge includes MyFord Touch, consisting of two LCDs to either side of the speedometer and a big LCD on the center stack. The LCD to the left of the speedometer shows specific car information, such as the tachometer, fuel economy, and all-wheel-drive torque distribution. The right LCD shows audio, navigation, phone, and climate control information.
One possible display shows the torque distribution to the wheels.
Using the directional button on the left steering-wheel spoke, we found it very easy to cycle through the different vehicle information displays. After a little tweaking, we found our preferred configuration, showing the fuel and tach gauges as vertical bar meters, with fuel economy statistics next to them.
Similarly, it was very easy to cycle through the different displays on the right side using identical, right-steering-wheel-spoke controls. To make it easier to register information at a glance, Ford color codes the screens, using green for navigation, red for audio, yellow for the phone, and blue for climate control.
The steering-wheel button gave us limited control over the various functions. For example, we could control the temperature on the climate control screen, or change audio sources on the audio screen, but we could not browse a connected iPod's library or change the fan speed.
Climate control is accessible on the right-hand instrument cluster display.
As the 2011 Edge comes with Ford's Sync system, we could control many of the car's infotainment functions through voice command. With an iPod connected to the car's USB port, we could play music merely by saying the name of an artist or album, and dial phone numbers by saying the name of a contact in our paired Bluetooth phone.
The Touch part of the MyFord Touch system is the 8-inch screen on the center stack, which uses a new interface design for Ford's cabin electronics. Like the right-hand instrument cluster display, the main screen identifies its main functions by color: red for audio, yellow for phone, blue for climate, and green for navigation.
A main menu shows basic information for each application in its own quadrant, and touch areas at each corner let us view full information on the screen. The design looks good and is very usable, with big, easily understood buttons. We could quickly dig through our paired phone's contact list or find Sirius Satellite Radio stations. Our only complaint is that the system seemed a little sluggish as we browsed the music library on a connected iPod.
HD radio is standard in the Ford Edge, and includes song tagging.
Chucking the hard-drive-based navigation system it used previously, Ford offers an SD-card-based system in the Edge, but our car was not configured for it. Instead, the green navigation screen had a button to activate Sync's Traffic, Directions, and Information service, a voice command system that operates through a Bluetooth paired phone to dial a server at a data center.
Although the four-color touch-screen interface is new for Ford, Audi has been using a similar design for years in its MMI, complete with a very useful instrument cluster display. But unique in the Edge is the center panel that comes with the Sony premium audio system. This panel uses backlit touch buttons with haptic feedback for its audio and climate controls, with a large volume dial in the middle. It looks very cool, but we did notice that it is easy to accidentally activate a button by brushing against it.
Instead of mechanical buttons, this panel uses touch buttons with haptic feedback.
Besides the unique touch panel, the Sony audio system is worth the option price for its excellent audio quality. It produces very well-balanced sound through its 12 speakers. The highs come out clearly and the bass has some power to it, thanks to the system's 390 watts of amplification.
Listening to bass-heavy electronic tracks, we were amused to see the rearview mirror shake, yet did not hear any panel rattle. The bass was strong, but not particularly sharp. Similarly, with acoustic guitar tracks we could hear the strumming, but didn't catch the sound of individual strings that can be heard with some very high-definition systems. Although the system lacked some clarity, the overall warmth and balance made listening a pleasing experience.
As the Sport version of the 2011 Edge, our car had the biggest engine available, a 3.7-liter V-6. This engine, and the 3.5-liter V-6 in the lesser trim Edges, gets updated with the addition of twin variable cam timing over the more primitive previous 3.5-liter V-6. For our car's engine, that meant an output of 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This kind of power gets the Edge off and running quickly, and let us put on the power to pass slower traffic on two-lane highways.
The Edge Sport gets this 3.7-liter V-6, but a direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder will be available soon.
More intriguing is the direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine coming next year. Ford says this engine will have four-cylinder fuel economy and six-cylinder power.
As for our Edge's fuel economy, it was not great. EPA testing gives the Edge Sport 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. In our driving, much of it along two-lane highways, we came in at 17.3 mpg, on the low side of the car's range. If the new four-cylinder engine can come in substantially better than that, it will be worth the wait.
The previous Edge had a slightly rough feel to the drivetrain, but the 2011 model feels more refined, the engine and transmission seeming to work together with more precision. But like the previous generation, the 2011 Edge feels heavy behind the wheel.
The Edge Sport gets Ford's SelectShift six-speed automatic transmission, originally released on the Ford Taurus SHO last year. This transmission uses a torque converter, not a dual-clutch system, as in the Ford Fiesta, but it has been optimized to reduce power losses. It has a manual shift mode, controllable with paddle shifters. We found the manual shifts fairly snappy, taking less time than with most other automatic transmission manual modes we've tested.
Driving around town, the transmission remained subtle, getting its job done without fuss. On the freeway it let the engine run at low rpms, around 2,000 while cruising at 70 mph. When we put the pedal down to pass or just get some good acceleration on, the step down happened with a satisfactory quickness. However, the transmission does not have a sport automatic mode, and does not hold low gears aggressively.
With its passenger and cargo capacity, along with all-wheel drive, the Edge is a good all-purpose vehicle.
Probably characteristic of the Sport-trimmed Edge, the suspension felt taut, constantly reacting to the road. Showing no softness, this suspension absorbed and damped out the road's bumps and grinds, but we could always feel it at work.
Our car had Ford's all-wheel-drive system, a trim level option. Because of the heavy feel of the Edge and its suburban nature, we didn't really thrash it in the corners, but driving over winding roads, it did seem to really scramble through the turns. The AWD system brought the back around, giving the car a rotational feel in the corners, which should minimize understeer.
Again, we didn't push it to the limits, but the car also showed nice stability and grip when turned. If a sports car had come by, we would have had to let it by, but as it was we were keeping up with and passing all other traffic.
This Edge came optioned with Ford's blind-spot detection system, which turns on lights in the mirrors when a car is in the Edge's blind spot. This system worked well in our testing, giving few false positives. As a new feature for Ford, the Edge has lane-change signaling. Press the turn signal stalk halfway, just short of its detent, and the turn signal flashes for a couple of seconds.
The MyFord Touch interface in the 2011 Ford Edge shows great initiative in design, and works very well for controlling the car's various infotainment applications. Exterior design changes, although subtle, take the Edge in a modern direction.
Sync forms the cornerstone of an excellent cabin tech package. As with its previous hard-drive-based navigation system, the new SD card system integrates with Sirius Travel Link for traffic, weather, and fuel prices. The Sony audio system comes standard on the Sport model, delivering very good sound from a variety of sources. Ford also makes adaptive cruise control available for the Edge.
The car's performance tech does not reach quite up to the standards of the design and cabin tech. The engine's variable cam timing may be new for Ford, but is not particularly new technology. But we do appreciate the refined transmission and the car's all-wheel-drive system. The upcoming direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder will be a significant increase to the car's performance tech.
|Model||2011 Ford Edge|
|Power train||3.7-liter V-6, six-speed automatic transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/23 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||17.3 mpg|
|Navigation||Flash-memory-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard with dial by name|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod, Zune, many others|
|Other digital audio||USB drive, Bluetooth streaming, SD card, auxiliary input, satellite radio, HD radio|
|Audio system||Sony 12-speaker 390-watt 5.1-channel surround sound|
|Driver aids||Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, backup camera|
|Price as tested||$40,930|