Driven: Sport modifications provide horsepower boost, improved handling and all-around sharper drivability
Ford Edge, usually considered a modest, mid-size crossover for suburban families, gets a performance boost with the ST model, which replaces the Edge Sport and emulates the sharply tuned Fiesta ST and Focus ST models.
While the limitations of applying the ST moniker to a substantial SUV rather than a pair of sport-compacts are obvious, the Edge ST does its best to provide power and handling for those people who would rather be driving a sport-compact than a soccer-mom crossover.
A handsomely upgraded interior adds to the luster, while a turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 provides the muscle with 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque.
The Edge ST was new for 2019 and continues through 2020 with standard all-wheel drive, an 8-speed automatic transmission and a Sport Mode for when you want to let it all hang out. Well, somewhat, since stability control stays active to keep drivers out of trouble in this high-profile wagon.
Ford notes that the part-time AWD on the new Edge is controlled by a form of artificial intelligence that determines when to shift from front-wheel to all-wheel drive, depending on road conditions, wheel slippage and throttle input, whenever the extra traction is needed. The switch back and forth is unnoticeable to the people on board.
The goal is to improve fuel mileage, which is better when in FWD. The Edge also has the stop-start feature that shuts off the engine when standing still, such as at a traffic light, rather than idling and wasting gas, then starts it back up when you release the brake.
The EPA mileage rating of 19 city and 26 highway is impressive for a 4,500-pound vehicle with this kind of power.
Edge ST follows the trend of adding performance models to SUV and crossover lineups, sometimes resulting in overpowered wagons that are just asking for trouble. The Edge’s approach is more nuanced, a well-balanced package that makes the crossover feel special indeed.
Notably, the Edge ST is the first SUV tuned by Ford Performance, which also tweaked Fiesta and Focus to be faster and more responsive.
On the road, the Edge ST feels somewhat exotic, more so than one might expect, making it easy to forget that it’s a mid-range crossover from Ford rather than some kind of high-roller European. On a vacation road trip to San Diego, packed with sundry beach gear and a motley collection of dogs, the Edge ST proved to be a solid highway cruiser with great stability and plenty of power.
Aside from the engine boost, standard AWD and the Sport Mode setting, where I kept it most of the time, the ST mods include a firmly tuned suspension that made the Edge feel well-planted on the road and agile in curves, without being too stiff or buffeting.
The ST package includes a dual exhaust with sporty-looking outlets, and in the Sport Mode, the exhaust note turns more stridently resonant. A great wake-up call.
The test Edge also was fitted with optional performance brakes, which were very effective and added to the overall performance experience, plus 21-inch wheels and summer-only sport tires that gripped quite well.
Stylistically, the ST treatment includes a unique front end with a wide, black-mesh grille that Ford says helps engine cooling, and deep side skirts for improved aerodynamics.
The interior is well-furnished with leather trim, supportive sport seats up front and nicely designed gauges and controls. A rotary dial controls the automatic-transmission shifting, with a central button for switching to Sport Mode. Paddle shifters provide engagement with the quick-shifting 8-speed.
The base price for the Edge ST is fairly lofty at $43,265, but you do get a lot of performance SUV for the money. The test ST was optioned with a package that includes a number of most-wanted features, including a panoramic sunroof, hands-free foot-operated liftgate, adaptive cruise control, enhanced active park assist, “Evasive Steering Assist” and a passel of other items, adding $4,840 to the price tag.
The ST performance brake package is $2,695, and the 21-inch black-painted wheels are $995. With $1,095 shipping, the tester’s bottom line comes out to $52,890.
The Edge is a good intermediate-sized crossover, not too big and not too compact, with roomy seating for five humans.Or like us: two humans and a gaggle of canines. It’s grown a bit and become more stylish in its latest makeover, and the ST performance treatment brings it up quite a few notches in power, handling and desirability.
2020 Ford Edge ST
Vehicle type: 5-passenger, 4-door crossover SUV, AWD drive
Base price: $43,265 Price as tested: $52,890
Engine: 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6, 335 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, 380 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches Overall length/width: 188.8 inches / 78.4 inches
Curb weight: 4,477 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 19 city / 26 highway / 21 combined
Assembled in: Oakville, Ontario