Ford Edge Expands Ford SUV Range to Five
- January 8, 2006
- Ford, New Model Introductions
- Posted by George Peterson
- Comments Off on Ford Edge Expands Ford SUV Range to Five
Introducing the Ford Edge
The hot buzzword in early 2006 is CUV, or crossover utility vehicle. Loosely defined as car-based product in the shape of an SUV, these types of vehicles have been around for about ten years. But as the domestic brands, specifically GM and Ford, are in the midst of expanding their offerings of this type of vehicle, they are fueling use of the term. Vehiclevoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts believe that these vehicles are not really crosses between anything, but rather the evolution of the SUV. Or what we like to call Post-Modern SUVs.
Whatever the name, these are clearly the vehicles that the majority of SUV buyers in the mid 1990s really wanted. Truck-based SUVs provided more off-road ability, that wasn’t used in many cases, and more towing capacity, also not used by the majority of SUV buyers. For those that actually use the expanded capability, there will continue to be truck-based options. For the rest of us, why not put the best attributes of an SUV onto a predominantly front-drive platform with a smaller and more fuel-efficient engine? The result of this evolution is vehicle ranging from the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V that started the trend (back in the days when they were called Cute Utes and knocked for their lack of truck-toughness) to the Chrysler Pacifica to Mercedes-Benz R- and ML-Class to Pontiac’s Torrent to Ford’s Escape and including Ford’s new-for-2007MY Edge.
Just like the Lincoln MKX, the Edge uses the platform introduced with Ford’s latest trio of mid-size sedans, the Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr. Edge will broaden Ford’s SUV lineup to five when it arrives in late 2006, similar to Toyota’s lineup. Ford dealers will offer Edge, Explorer, Escape, Freestyle, and Expedition for 2007MY. Edge is sized and powered above Escape, but smaller than the Explorer or Freestyle. It brings Ford’s car-based SUV total to three (Escape, Edge, Freestyle), with the Explorer and Expedition continuing their truck-based personalities.
If the Edge is as good on the road as it sounds on paper, it should find a sweet spot in the market. Styling is more modern and attractive than the boxy and aging Escape. The current Escape was developed when manufacturers were first realizing that some customers want the utility of an SUV but the drive, handling, and fuel economy nearer their cars and the talk of crossovers was nil. Ford designed the Escape to look as much like a truck-based SUV as possible, but since then the market has been snapping up softer-looking utility vehicles. In the world of post-modern SUVs, the utility vehicle is taking a shape much more like that of a tall wagon than borrowing truck cues. The Edge is set to be the right product at the right time, and Ford may find more success with it than they did with the Escape.
Modern Exterior and Interior
The Edge offers a fresh, modern face, while the Lincoln sibling is clearly going after Lexus RX 330 buyers. The MKX manages to have a me-too look to its silhouette, but the Edge carries a more distinct personality. The bold front shows a new interpretation of the Ford family face, launched on the Fusion. The aggressively raked windshield and fast back window give a more rounded and modern look than typical square-box SUV products. A crease that goes from hood around the to the sides and shoulder keeps it from taking on a droopy or wimpy look. A slight bulge in the hood and quad-beam headlights help convey a purposeful front-end look.
The Edge will also offer something Ford calls Vista Roof. These are two glass panels that run nearly the full size of the roof; the front panel opens like a traditional sunroof while the rear panel is fixed but allows for more light in the interior. Expect the Vista Roof to be an option when the Edge arrives in dealers.
The interior features two nine-by-two-inch vertical vents bracketing the audio and climate controls and leather seats with contrast stitching, popular on the Fusion. Among the tricks up the Edge’s sleeve for cargo space, flexibility, and utility are a large center console with both a removable divider and tray for organizing the space; four power outlets (one optional, three standard); a jack for plugging in your MP3 player; and twenty-ounce cupholders in front passenger and driver’s side door map pockets and juice-box holders in the rear door pockets. Edge offers seating for five, with the rear seats folding 60/40 to a level load floor, and if needed the front passenger seat can be folded down for those really long items. Though Ford did not add a fully power function for folding the rear seats, the standard manual setup is for a single-hand release while an electro-mechanical remote release button can be ordered into the cargo area. Rear-seat DVD entertainment (including an eight-inch screen and wireless headphones), DVD-based navigation, and Sirius satellite radio will be on the options list, as well as leather seating surfaces and heated front seats.
Safety features includes Ford’s AdvanceTrac traction and Roll Stability Control aids as options, as well as seat-mounted side air bags and the Safety Canopy system with rollover detection and extended-duration side curtain airbags. Dual-stage occupant sensing air bags are standard for driver and front passenger. The motive power comes from a 250HP 3.5L DOHC 24v V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. And, of course, the standard Edge is a front-wheel-drive vehicle while all-wheel drive is optional.