The Chicago Mercantile Exchange just announced that it is merging with the Chicago Board of Trade Company to create a “juggernaught” in the world derivatives market. These markets allow farmers to hedge their bets, insuring their crop at a given price for a future harvest. Automakers have no such luck. They pour billions of dollars into developing a product and gamble that it will succeed in the market place. Recent Death Watchee Ford has made such a gamble with its new crossover vehicle, the Edge. Some say it must sell, or FoMoCo will bust out. Ford’s betting the proverbial farm on red. But is the Edge a sure thing?
Looks-wise, the answer is maybe. Sporting a grill that would make Chad Johnson jealous, the Edge is as all up in your face as any vehicle on the road. The Edge even goes a step farther than the similarly blingtastic Fusion grinning with a huger chrome three-bar snout and wrap-round jeweled lights. The side view is a mish-mash of Nissan CUV’s past, with the front quarter panel aping Infiniti’s FX and everything from the A-pillar back looking very Murano, albeit with a touch of Acura MDX thrown in fo’ flavor. The rear is my favorite angle, subtlety working the best bits of family DNA (think Focus). The mean-looking trucklette rides on mirrored 18” wheels, attempting to tell all who see that even though the SUV is dead, it’s not.
The Edge’s interior is the biggest surprise; most pieces are straight up binnage (door handles and locks from the Mustang, waterfall jacked from the Freestyle), yet they are elegantly presented and surrounded with better-than-Ford-Average plastics. Marketing speak told tales of how the interior aesthetics were modeled after an urban loft. Never mind the fanciful rationalization, just color me pleased.
The seats are from Mazda’s CX-7. While they feel hopelessly out of place in a harder riding CUV, they are comfortable and appropriate here. The killer app: the Edge's epic front sunroof and rear moonroof, separated by only a foot of fabric. Both are best enjoyed from the cozy, reclining rear seats. Those who follow cars shows know that for more than a decade, manufacturers have been threatening to release a modestly priced ride with an all-glass top. Ford (nearly) delivers.
As the Edge sits on the same CD3 platform as the fine-handling Ford Fusion (a stretched and widened Mazda 6 platform), one would expect sporting pretensions if not outright sportiness. Ford apparently agrees with Frank Zappa that America is great because of our collective ignorance. The ride has been softened and frankly dulled. I’m not disagreeing with Ford or Frank; leaving the Edge tuned like a Zoom-Zoomer would only exacerbate our aching collective backs. On highways and suburban byways, where all Edges will live 99% of their easygoing lives, the ride is competent, compliant and downright pleasant. It is only on swooping, challenging back roads — where Ford’s PR wing elected to turn us loose — that ride sloppiness and handling limitations became apparent, and quick.
Luckily, the brakes are the same awesome stoppers found on the CX-7. The nanny is a hard mistress as she actually applied the brakes under full acceleration. Enthusiasts and wannabe enthusiasts might balk, but I guarantee the Edge will never dog Ford with Explorer-style rollover headlines. Besides, you can switch it off.
The go-pedal is connected to the new Duratec 3.5L 60-degree V6 found in the Lincoln Zephyr, er, MKZ. The 265hp and 250lbs.-ft of torque is enough to adequately motivate the 4200+ pound lil’ brute. Again, enthusiasts can decry the lack of power all day long, but for what the Edge wants to be (and who it wants to sell itself to) the mill is just fine. I did, however, decry the lack of oomph to my Ford peeps and asked why there is no SVT/SHO/HO/V8 version available for alpha male soccer marms. My query was met with knowing smiles and disingenuous shrugs. You read it here first.
The six-speed automated cog-swapper– the mechanical fruit of a joint venture with GM– is a winner. Ford claims 24mpg for the AWD Edge on the highway, which is good for an angled two-ton brick (though they were suspiciously silent about the around town numbers). Best of all, kick-downs will let the engine blast up to the 6,250rpm redline before shifting. We like that.
But do we like the Edge? Ford’s marketers mentioned a mythical man named “Phil” at whom the Edge is allegedly aimed. He’s 31, childless, active and on the go. In other words, he’s me. And I ain’t buying. If I wanted to sit in a highchair, I’d grab a CX-7. However, Element-owning Boomers who are tired of cruising PT just might snap-up the Edge up in droves. Ford’s sure hoping the roulette wheel comes up as red as their recent financial statements. Or Blazing Copper Metallic, to be more exact.
[Ford provided Mr. Lieberman's airfare, transfers, accomodation, meals, beverages, the vehicle reviewed, insurance, taxes and a tank of gas.]