Ford proves it's listening with 2019 Edge

by William Clavey . Oct 26 2018
Photos by William Clavey / LC Media

Photos by William Clavey / LC Media

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Let’s say you’re the owner of a muffin company and you notice your raspberry and blueberry muffins aren’t selling all too well. What do you do? You make bigger muffins and sell them at a lower price. And what if that doesn’t work? You remove them from your inventory.

That’s precisely what Ford did when it announced earlier this year it would cease the production of its cars, with the exception of the Mustang. It isn’t all that hard to understand why, as North American consumers generally prefer SUVs now, not cars. Ford did like the coffee shop at the corner of your street that only manages to sell chocolate chip muffins, even though it offers some filled with fruit.

Hence, by removing its sedans and subcompacts from its lineup, Ford did what any good muffin business would do. It increased its stocks of popular models, stuffed them with more chocolate chips and bumped up their price. The Edge is Ford’s chocolate chip muffin, and for 2019, it’s never been so tasty.

But then, it’s not like the Edge has many rivals. Its only real competitors are the Nissan Murano and the upcoming Chevrolet Blazer. It sits in the oddball segment of midsize, five-passenger crossovers. Squeezed between the Escape and the Explorer, the Edge promises to blend the driving dynamics and performance of a car with the versatility of an SUV. And the formula seems to be working for Ford, because in 2017, more than 180,000 people bought one in North America.

Now that the Edge has become an important battle horse for Dearborn’s finest, it gets a thorough refresh for 2019 so it can soldier on. After all, without the sales of SUVs, Ford wouldn’t be going very far.

The changes are substantial. There’s an entirely facelifted design through a different fascia, updated LED headlights and restyled bumpers. The entire rear end was also uplifted, and there are now new wheel packages and sportier-looking side skirts.

Inside, material quality has been improved, notably in the door inserts, dashboard and centre console, where you now find a knob dial to manipulate the all-new eight-speed automatic gearbox. Ford claims such a configuration frees up the console in order to maximize storage space. Personally, it didn’t take me long to miss the good old gear lever. That knob dial is slow to react and not all that intuitive.

The sole engine for all 2019 Edges is the 2.0-litre turbocharged four, which gets a slight horsepower bump for a total of 250. Torque remains unchanged at 275 lb.-ft. The Edge Sport is discontinued, and replaced by the all-new 2019 Ford Edge ST.

For 2019, all trim levels come standard with Ford’s semi-autonomous suite of safety features called Co-Pilot360. Some models can even sync with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to voice-command your Edge to execute various actions, such as opening and closing a garage door, or remotely starting the engine and pre-heating the cabin.

Our tester was a Titanium with all-wheel drive. With a sales price of $43,399 (before freight and destination), it’s the one that tops the lineup before heading over to an Edge ST. Three other trim levels are offered: SE with all-wheel drive and SEL with either front- or all-wheel drive.

A base Edge, the SE, isn’t what many would qualify as an affordable vehicle — it kicks off at $35,999. Ouch! At least it comes standard with all-wheel drive in Canada, which should be a hit for our winters.

On the road, I was quite pleased with the four-cylinder’s eagerness, especially considering I had just came out of the ST. But the back-to-back comparison did allow the 2.0-litre to shine. It has great low-end torque, and spirited acceleration! I’ll go as far as saying its performance is more compelling than the V-6-powered Murano’s.

The same can be said about the eight-speed automatic. It’s quick to react for downshifting, and doesn’t attract too much attention to itself during upshifts. Generally speaking, the Edge offers acceptable road manners, with very little body roll or unwanted wobbles when driven over road imperfections. Its driving dynamics are almost “sporty,” and since the four-pot is significantly lighter than the V-6, it allows the front of the vehicle to be lighter and more playful than its V-6 counterpart.

Inside, the Edge is roomy, its rear seat is comfortable and cargo space is high for the segment at 2,078 litres. That’s more than in the Murano (1,897 litres). Towing capacity is, however, the same as its main rival at 1,500 pounds.

As a midsize crossover, the 2019 Ford Edge does its job rather well. Then again, with so little competition, it isn’t all that difficult to perform.

But, we still question the awkward driving position, which makes you feel like you’re sitting on top of the vehicle instead of inside it. And while semi-autonomous driving aids are the big thing these days, they’d be a little more compelling here if they actually worked well. During Ford’s demonstration, two of the various features refused to operate as advertised. “We’re witnessing technical issues,” they said. We were not impressed. In Ford’s defence, the cars we tested were pre-production vehicles. Ford promises its systems will operate more consistently once they go on sale.

The 2019 Ford Edge should hit Canadian showrooms next month, ready to eat up yet more midsize sedan sales.

— LC Media