Ford is looking to pump some excitement into its midsize crossover with an all-new ST performance package for the 2019 model year.

With SUVs now dominating the U.S. sales charts it’s no surprise manufacturers are filling in the white spaces with new models, options and features. And that includes sportier models like the 2019 Ford Edge ST.

In recent years, Ford has rolled out a variety of performance variants on the passenger car side, such as the tire squealing Focus ST. The Edge becomes the Detroit automaker’s first high-performance crossover model — though it’s not likely to be the last, Ford officials hinted at a background briefing ahead of the 2019 Edge ST unveiling at the North American International Auto Show next week.

“We know we have an opportunity to attract a performance-oriented buyer who needs a little more utility” than they might get through current ST models like the Focus, explained Christine Aquino, the crossover’s marketing manager.

Using the Edge to bring the ST performance line to Ford’s array of crossover-utility vehicles is no surprise. The midsize model has been something of a “pioneer” for the brand, Ford officials suggested, and has been used to introduce a variety of other features since it was original introduced in in the 2007 model year.

(Crossover sales rage may be hitting peak. Click Here for the story.)

The new Edge ST more than looks the performance part, it offers higher performance with a 335-horsepoewr V6.

The 2019 Ford Edge ST will be powered by a 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 making 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the most powerful version of the Edge currently makes just 315 hp and the standard-issue model is rated 245 hp. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic.

“Edge ST puts a new animal on the road – a performance SUV with a track mentality,” said Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president of product development and purchasing. “From a performance standpoint, and with its SUV silhouette and versatility, it sets a new standard Edge fans will love to drive.”

The ST delivers more than just raw horsepower. The development team also aimed for improved handling with a retuned suspension and larger brakes that can scrub speed off in a hurry. There’s even an optional performance brake package.

Drivers will have the ability to shift into Sport mode, as well, further tuning vehicle settings, such as throttle response and transmission shifts, to performance levels. The ST will be available with 20- and 21-inch tires, and even a 21-inch summer performance tire package.

(Click Here to see more about high-performance SUVs.)

Sporty on the inside as well as the outside, the Ford Edge ST offers better handling and braking in Sport Mode.

The 2019 crossover is by no means the first utility vehicle to get the performance treatment. Mercedes-Benz offers AMG versions of virtually every ute in its line-up. But Ford’s approach to the Edge ST is significant in that many so-called performance models are little more than appearance packages with no changes under the hood.

“It’s not just a sporty color or badge,” said Jonathan Crocker, the 2019 Edge ST engineering manager. “This thing is invigorating.”

That said, there are some notable tweaks to the appearance of the 2019 Ford Edge ST that signal it has a meaner disposition. That includes a black-out version of the crossover’s hexagonal grille. There’s a unique fascia-mounted, bead-blasted exhaust. And there’s more gloss black to the rear. The Edge ST gets a unique logo on it liftgate and sill plates, too.

The rest of the Ford Edge line-up also is updated for 2019, however. That includes improved performance and fuel economy with even the stock 2.0-liter base engine. It now makes 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque and adds fuel-saving Stop/Start engine technology.

The crossover – which has a strong following among women who prefer it to traditional minivans – now gets a suite of standard-issue driver assistance technologies, such as forward collision warning. Several even more advanced technologies are optional, such as collision warning with the ability to steer around a potential obstacle to avoid a crash.

There’s a new onboard WiFi system capable of connecting to as many as 10 different wireless devices, even if you’re outside the vehicle, say, for a tailgate party. And the 2019 Edge adds the latest version of Ford’s Sync infotainment system and the Ford Pass Connect package of services. The new model also gets the ability to make over-the-air, or OTA, software updates, much like today’s smartphones.

(To see how crossovers/utes could account for half the U.S. new vehicle market, Click Here.)

Ford also has integrated Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant into the 2019 Edge so you can use it to do things like order a cup of coffee from Starbucks or operate services remotely, explained Joe Baker, the program manager, adding that, “If you have Alexa at home you can use it to control your smart home,” operating things like your wireless thermostats and lights.

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