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First Look: 2011 Ford Edge

Significant update coming for best-selling CUV, including first 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

by on Feb.10, 2010

Ford aims to maintain control of the crossover segment with its new 2011 Edge.

With the 2007 launch of the Edge, Ford belatedly entered the critical midsize crossover segment, a move all the more important as the once-powerful Ford Explorer was rapidly fading in demand.  It proved a successful foray, with Edge now the best-seller in its class.

So, launching an all-new model carries a fair share of risk, and all eyes will be on the 2011 Ford Edge, when the automaker pulls the covers off today at the annual Chicago Auto Show.  Though this isn’t a complete, top-to-bottom remake, Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development chief nonetheless describes the ’11 Edge as a “significant” update, and there’s no question the automaker is addressing a wide range of issues, particularly those critics have pointed to since the crossover’s debut.

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The headline news is the debut of the first four-cylinder application of Ford’s new EcoBoost engine.  The original Edge offered but a single powertrain option.  With the 2011 Ford Edge, buyers will get three engine choices, including an upgraded 3.5-liter V6, now using Ti-VCT technology to boost performance and fuel economy, now 27 mpg Highway; a new 3.7-liter V6 with Ti-VCT for the Edge Sport, making 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque; and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost.  

The 2011 Ford Edge will bring the first application of the automakers four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

Expect this turbocharged, direct-injection engine to match the performance of a 3.0-liter V6, even while giving 4-cylinder efficiency, the maker suggests – and based on what we’ve seen with the bigger V6 EcoBoost engines, this seems a reasonable expectation.  While the maker is still making some final tweaks, we’ve been told the 2011 Ford Edge equipped with EcoBoost should deliver fuel economy that will approach 32 mpg on the Highway, a solid number for the segment.

Visually, the changes are modest but nonetheless notable.  That starts with a new front end featuring the now-standard three-bar Ford grille. A new version of the 2011 Ford Edge Sport, shown to a group of reporters in a pre-Chicago briefing, features a distinctive blackout nose designed to look a lot more, well, edgy, than the typical CUV.  Other exterior touches include a new liftgate, new front and rear lamps and new chrome exhaust tips.

The interior of the 2011 Ford Edge is completely redesigned and features an all-new Sony infotainment system with Ford's own Sync.

The interior also goes through a redesign, a more significant updating, in fact, touching everything from trim to steering wheel, which is decidedly more modern than the dated stock Ford wheel the automaker has used on so many products, over the years.  But eyes will likely focus on the center stack, which suddenly takes on the appearance of a high-line audiophile component assembly.  That reflects the influence of Ford’s new partnership with electronics giant, Sony, which has customized an audio system for the 2011 Ford Edge.

Of course, Sync is a feature that Ford will heavily promote for the updated crossover, and with the launch of the 2011 Edge, you’ll have access to the third-generation system, which will permit you to not only use voice controls for feature like calling, navigation and other basic functions, but you’ll also be able to integrate cellphone “apps,” like Pandora Internet radio.  You can even access the Web by WiFi when the car is parked.

The 2011 Ford Edge Sport gets a bigger, 3.7-liter V6 and a distinctive grille treatment.

Most makers have been struggling to develop functional MMI devices – man/machine interfaces, in tech terms – that make it easier to keep your eyes on the road yet still adjust critical controls, BMW’s iDrive being the best-known, if most controversial, example.  Ford now integrates a pair of five-way controllers, one on each side of that new steering wheel.

The outgoing crossover’s Sport model was pretty much faux, all bark but no bite.  The new version gets the bigger 3.7-liter V6, mated to paddle shifters and 6-speed automatic.  There’s a newly-tuned suspension, standard 22-inch wheels, the segment’s biggest, aluminum pedals and that distinctive grille.

The various crossover segments continue to get more competitive.  The Dearborn maker is determined to ensure that with the launch of the 2011 Ford Edge, it can continue to control the midsize segment.

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