Karl Brauer 3/16/2015 @ 4:00AM
There’s no stopping the SUV juggernaut. At Kelley Blue Book we’ve watched SUVs and crossovers of every size and price range garner increasing shopper interest over the past 2 years (well before the latest drop in fuel prices). The shift from cars to crossovers continues in 2015, putting extra pressure on automakers to keep their high-profit SUVs compelling. Ford’s Edge predates the current SUV craze. It’s been a strong seller in the midsize SUV category since it was introduced 8 years ago, yet Edge sales were down 16 percent last year while the category grew 12 percent. Ford updated the Edge 4 years ago, but the automaker needed an all-new model to stay competitive. That’s what the 2015 Ford Edge is — all new — with a revised exterior and interior paired with upgraded drivetrains offering better performance and increased fuel efficiency.
Given Ford’s increasing focus on global products, along with rising SUV demand in every major vehicle market, the 2015 Edge comes at a critical moment. After launching in North America this spring it will go on sale in Europe, South American and China, eventually being sold in more than 100 markets across the globe. Ford reps describe the new Edge as “Technology with Purpose” because the new model offers a range of advanced features compared to the outgoing model. Changes to the Edge’s exterior include a body structure with a greater percentage of high-strength steel (including boron steel in the B-pillars) and an overall platform that is 26 percent more resistant to bending forces and 14 percent more resistant to twisting forces. The body is also 4 inches longer and 1.3 inches taller than before and rides on an updated McPherson strut front suspension and all-new independent rear suspension. The new rear suspension features coil springs and a 23 millimeter antiroll bar to achieve a 20 percent reduction in body roll.
The 2015 Edge’s larger body and slightly longer wheelbase (.9 inches) translate into greater interior space, with 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row (7.0 cubic feet more than last year) and 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seat is folded down (4.5 cubic feet more than before). The interior isn’t just larger but also clearly a step up in overall design and material quality. Interior panel seams are tighter and better integrated, with soft-touch surfaces dominating the dash and door panels. Storage space is abundant, including a two-level center console, a covered storage area ahead of the shifter and a new storage pocket on the dash above the center stack. The increased interior volume translates into an open, airy cabin with plenty of space in the front and rear seats (rear seat legroom is up 1 inch this year). The cabin also benefits from upgraded door seals and thicker glass to reduce noise. We found road and drivetrain noise to be almost non-existent in the new Edge, though there was noticeable wind noise at speeds above 50 mph.
Four versions of the 2015 Ford Edge are offered, starting with the SE at $28,995. This is the same price as last year’s model, but the 2015 Edge SE is powered by a new 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Updates to this engine include an upgraded block and a new twin-scroll turbo designed for improved throttle response and better fuel efficiency. This engine makes 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. The EPA rates a front-wheel-drive 2015 Edge with the 2.0-liter engine at 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Buyers can add all-wheel drive to any Edge for $1,495, but mileage drops to 20/28/23 for AWD models with the 2.0-liter. The SE also comes standard with 18-inch wheels, LED taillamps, cloth seats, a rearview camera, a six speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and Sync (which includes a 4.2-inch central display screen, Bluetooth phone pairing and voice-activated controls). SE buyers can step up to Ford’s 3.5-liter V6 for $29,420. The 3.5-liter is a carry-over engine offering 280 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It’s rated at 18 city mpg, 28 highway mpg and 21 combined mpg in front-wheel-drive form (15/24/20 for AWD).
The 2015 Ford Edge SEL slots above the SE and starts at $32,395. The SEL comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat, SiriusXM satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, heated exterior mirrors, a reverse sensing system and LED signature exterior lights in the lower front grille. The same 2.0-liter standard engine and 3.5-liter optional V6 are offered in the SEL and the Titanium trim Edge, which starts at $36,495. The Titanium trim replaces last year’s Limited trim and, like other Ford model lines, the Titanium version is supposed to emphasize technology. In the Edge that means a standard hands-free power liftgate, HD radio, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, ambient interior lighting, Sync with MyFord Touch (including an 8-inch touchscreen), illuminated door scuff plates, heated front seats, a 10-way power passenger seat, leather seats, body colored door handles, LED taillamps that extend across the tailgate and 19-inch wheels.
The top-line 2015 Edge Sport starts at $38,995 and comes standard with Ford’s new twin-turbocharged, 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. This engine debuted on the 2015 F-150, but this is its first appearance in a front/all-wheel-drive vehicle. It offers 315 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, with the torque peak hitting at just 2,750 rpm. This provides the new Edge Sport with rapid acceleration, even under part throttle application. While this engine is smaller than last year’s 3.7-liter V6 its acceleration is quicker and EPA mileage for the Sport jumps to 18 city, 27 highway and 21 combined (17/24/20 for AWD versions). The Sport also gets unique rear monotube dampers and 10 percent thicker coil springs, creating an engaging combination of power and handling uncommon in this vehicle segment. The Edge Sport also includes 20-inch wheels, leather seats with suede inserts, a piano black grille and unique lower cladding and exhaust tips. It’s clearly the Edge for performance enthusiasts.
Driving the new 2015 Edge reveals the effort Ford put into upgrading its sophistication. The vehicle is only about 50 pounds lighter than before, but the improved suspension design and new electronic power steering system deliver superior ride quality and confidence, whether navigating parking lots or mountain roads. The Ford Edge Sport elevates the SUV’s driving dynamics a step further while a range of advanced technology is offered for 2015. Optional features like adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, forward and reverse cameras, blind spot warning and lane-keeping assist aren’t unique to the Edge. But other items, like Ford’s latest active park assist (which can steer the Edge into a parallel or perpendicular space) are not common in this vehicle segment. The same goes for Curve Control (keeps the Edge on course even if it carries too much speed into a turn) and inflatable rear safety belts to reduce head, neck and chest injuries.
Competing for SUV buyers is the new norm, with Ford earning the title of top-selling sport utility brand in the U.S. last year. The profit margin for these vehicles offer will have every manufacturer scrambling for market share going forward, but the 2015 Edge’s combination of performance, functionality and fuel efficiency should keep it among the sales leaders in this segment.