The Ford Motor Co. has long been at the forefront of transforming the United States into a nation of SUV drivers, going all the way back to the introduction of the Ford Explorer in 1990.
I suspect Ford is already preparing to party like it’s the 1990s by launching a 30th Anniversary version of Explorer in 2020. But it is also steadily upgrading the rest of its growing portfolio of SUVs and crossovers with the launch of the 2019 Ford Edge, which gets an impressive list of updates to driveline, suspension and safety equipment for the new model year.
Sandwiched as it is between the popular Ford Escape and the Explorer, the two-row Edge sells reasonably well – roughly 140,000 units last year – and Ford is betting new features will make it standout more in a crowded corner of the new vehicle market.
After a test drive in the mountainous landscape outside Salt Lake City, Utah, I have to say Ford has a decent shot at making an impression in a segment that has received an enormous amount of attention and investment from competitors that have produced some extremely capable vehicles such as Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevy Equinox, Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Outback.
For starters, for 2019 Edge has been outfitted with a new front fascia with standard LED headlights. The new face gives the Edge a more tech-oriented appearance, which I suspect was the point of the mid-cycle refresh of the Edge, which leaned heavily on equipping the Edge with new technology. At the same time the appearance of the 2019 Ford Edge fits neatly into the line-up of SUVs Ford is offering these days.
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Particularly impressive was the all-new eight speed transmission, which shifted smoothly and efficiently when the Edge began to climb a hill and hold its gearing on a steep downhill grade and even around a corner when the vehicle began to feel the g-force. In addition, the Edge is equipped with an all-wheel-drive disconnect that efficiently switches between two- and four-wheel drive without the driver ever really noticing.
In addition, in heavy going there is a gauge available in the instrument cluster that gives the driver information about what wheel is getting the power. A stop-start system, which also been refined for 2019, is also now standard on the Edge and serves as virtually silent partner in improving the Edge’s fuel-economy numbers of the front-wheel drive version to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg for a combined rating of 25 mpg.
Overall, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine performs well in some difficult terrain. The driving dynamics have also been improved by the incremental enhancements Ford has built into the suspension. The vehicle holds the road nicely on tight curves and the Edge’s body roll has been reduced to almost nothing on curves and in quick lane changes on the freeway.
My drive partner and I were disappointed we didn’t get to try the Edge on rougher terrain, but the vehicle handled bad roads and a short stretch off-road without and difficulty.
The steering is very efficient in various situations and braking power is quite impressive. As a consequence, the driver’s sense of control over the vehicle instills a sense of confidence.
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The driver’s confidence in the vehicle is also enhanced by the standard package of driver assistance features – dubbed Ford Co-Pilot 360 – such as automatic high beam headlamps, pre-collision warnings and emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane-keeping assist and rear camera with a cross traffic alert.
The Edge is the first of Ford’s vehicles to get Ford Co-Pilot 360 and it also include post-collision braking so the vehicle won’t keep rolling after a crash and cause further damage. The pre-collision system with emergency braking will actually stop the vehicle at speeds below 20 miles per hour and reduce the impact with hard braking at higher speeds.
Ford also has added an optional feature – evasive steering assist – so the driver can maneuver around another vehicle if the vehicle detects that a crash is imminent.
The other features available on the 2019 Edge include a rotary gear shift dial, FordPass Connect with 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, SYNC 3 with AppLink compatibility with Ford+Alexa and Waze navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio and rain sensing windshield wipers, a feature I’ve always loved.
Pricing for the new Ford Edge starts at $29,995 for base SE models while Edge SEL models start at $32,970, and Titanium models begin at $38,550.
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The improvements to the Edge’s driveline demand attention for their overall performance and the technology that is now standard on the vehicle is very impressive and worthy of consideration for anyone looking for the latest in automotive electronics.