First Drives

2015 Ford Edge First Drive

From Breakout Freshman to Standout Sophomore

From Breakout Freshman to Standout Sophomore

Within minutes of posting a 2015 Ford Edge photo on Instagram, the comments already showed a consistent theme: “Looks like the RAV4,” wrote mrbrightside725; “Doesn’t the new Edge look like the Santa Fe?” asked rdederick; “Nice Honda CR-V,” noted danieljay6910. But it was j_runemova_23’s post that stood out most: “Looks like everything else all-together.” The popular Web meme I SEEN’T IT! instantly came to mind. My Instagram insta-poll was clear: The Edge’s design is a little too familiar.

But Kevin George, the Ford Edge’s chief designer, seemed to see this coming the night before at the program’s Scottsdale, Arizona, home base. “We didn’t want to reinvent what we had,” he said as he pointed out its uncomplicated exterior and familiar proportions. “We wanted to leverage the good.” And out here in the intense Arizona sunlight on state Route 188, the actual Edge (as compared with my posted pic) appears simultaneously handsome and modern to the max — though not as in-your-face as, say, the 2015 Nissan Murano, a key competitor. “It’s a runner now,” George said. “Slender but muscular.”

The 2015 Edge’s ground-up redesign adds 1 inch to the predecessor’s wheelbase, a bit less than 2 inches to its height, and nearly 4 inches to its length. Horizontal, all-LED lamps now adorn the steeply raked section aft of the C-pillar, and at the front the simplified nose incorporates slim headlights and a familial three-bar grille (with Active Grille Shutters for models with EcoBoost engines).

Behind those grilles purrs a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 with 315 horses for the nimble Sport version (its only engine) or a 245-horse, 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four powering the front-drive Titanium trim (also available with a 3.5-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive). Both sport six-speed automatic transmissions with paddle shifters that I put to very good use on Route 188’s frequent steep hills. The twin-scroll 2.0-liter might not be as punchy (needing a few extra milliseconds and a downshift to carry momentum up the same hill), but it’s capable — just not as fluid as the smoother 2.7. (Hard to beat 350 lb-ft available at just 2,750 rpm.) A runner? You betcha, Mr. George.

The 2015 Edge’s swiftness is helped by a structure 50 pounds lighter and all-new independent rear suspension, and although it’s still a top-heavy people-mover (of course), on curvaceous pavement cutting through the Tonto National Forest, both flavors of the Edge responded deftly with a sense of refined sturdiness. Predictably, the Edge Sport was even defter yet, given its 265/40R21 Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires, 10 percent stiffer springs, monotube rear dampers, and thicker anti-roll bars. But curiously, it simultaneously delivered a suppler ride than the front-drive Titanium model rolling on 20-inch alloys, which tended to bounce over bigger obstacles rather than absorb them as the Sport did.

The cooled and heated 10-way power adjustable front seats of the Edge Titanium and Sport are good news for those bumps and corners, but what’s even more noticeable inside is the crossover’s big stride in quietness. Robust insulation and body seals, acoustic windshield and underbody panels, and in the case of the Titanium acoustic glass for the front passenger doors all work together to quell cabin noise to a remarkable extent. Wind gust patter isn’t all that gets hushed. Even the Sport AWD’s optional 21-inch wheels are felt more than heard, helped, no doubt, by the Active Noise Cancellation system, which pumps opposing sound waves into the space via Sony’s audio system. The Titanium FWD is no less silent.

The end of my drive gave a good chance to climb around the 2015 Edge’s interior. Every front and rear capacity — headroom, legroom, shoulder room, hiproom — has seen modest growth. So too has cargo space behind the second row (39.2 cu ft versus 32.2). And everywhere around me, softer, higher-quality, painted, and plated accents decorate high-touch areas. Storage cubbies galore populate the dash, center console, doors, and even the space beside both knees, with 10 — count ’em, 10 — cupholders for knickknacks and beverages. Folks occupying the rear 60/40 split seat have cubbies, too, plus two 12-volt plugs that ought to keep device-toting kids quiet four hours. Outdoorsy-types will enjoy the Sport’s Panoramic Vista Roof that expands the cabin’s already airy feel.

Meanwhile, lazy types can opt for the Enhanced Park Assist package that teams perpendicular parking, parallel parking, and park out assist technologies. The new 180-degree front camera makes pulling out of parking spots or alleys a stress-free task, and in a trial, the ensemble worked flawlessly in parallel and perpendicular situations, needing me to only brake and engage forward or reverse. It does the rest.

For years, the Ford Edge has been the sales king in the heated two-row-SUV segment. So like a breakout singer crafting a sophomore album, getting this one right is imperative, especially now that it’s headed to European and Chinese customers. Although the Edge may not wow the avatars of Instagram, the ahhhs it’ll receive for the beautiful accomplishments beneath its skin ought to keep it looking plenty good in the sales race.