Ford has the Edge in mid-size SUV

When the Ford Edge arrived in 2007, one of its first reveals was at the Boston Auto Show at the Bayside Expo, where it was eagerly greeted and well received.

This mid-size SUV has only grown better over time, and this year, it adds Ford’s intelligent Eco-Boost engine, which means better mileage and less gas money out of pocket. The original Edge seemed to borrow heavily from the Ford Fusion and its shiny, razorblade-like plastic grille slats. What differentiates this new Edge is its wide, aggressive stance, with wheels pushed out to each corner, higher belt lines than traditional car doors—the better to make it seem taller with larger door and smaller glass greenhouse, but it’s an illusion—along with its large wheels, arched fenders, and grille overhang.

From the large 20-inch standard tires that sit under high-arching wheel wells, to its rounded shape and bobbed backside, accented by a rear spoiler wing akin to the Dodge Caliber, Edge appears like a growing puppy that hasn’t quite fit into its paws.

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However, new puppies also have lots of energy and the addition of the EcoBoost engine lets the Edge run like a happy dog or produce more miserly mileage, if so desired.

When the Edge debuted, it featured a 3.5-liter, 265 hp,V-6 mated to a then-class exclusive 6-speed automatic transmission and aimed to get mid-20 mpgs on the highway. Six years later, Ford’s given Edge its 4-cylinder, 240 hp, turbocharged EcoBoost, which averages 21 city mpgs and almost 30 on the highway. Ford claims its gasoline directinject could boost economy up to 20 percent, redirecting exhaust to a turbine that will pressurize air and increase the output per liter of the engine. EcoBoost’s engine is about 55 pounds lighter than the V-6, cause for more potential gas savings.

That’s where the Edge gets an edge. The Edge’s computer produced 22.8 mpgs during a week of mixed driving while a gas receipt produced 25.7 mpgs. Not bad for a crossover vehicle that, despite its large, smooth surfaces, weighs over two tons, has a wide front area to catch wind, and larger 245/60R18 tires, all of which requires more energy to roll than its smaller, midsize competitors.

EcoBoost is a $995 option that provides the 2.0-liter, 240 hp, 4-cylinder engine with 270 pound-feet of torque and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission. Yes, that’s more money for less standard pony power (285 hp from the standard mill), but you get the full pulling power sooner—about 3,000 rpms—than later (about 4,000 rpms) in the regular 3.5-liter,V-6. And yes, it does make a difference. You won’t need a whiplash collar if you mash the go pedal, but passing won’t become a planned event, either.

Sticking to its tworow, five-passenger seating setup provides extra room inside the taller SUV/crossover/ modern minivan that is the Edge. One sits up a tad higher, has great vision, and, despite the high belt line and shorter appearing greenhouse, I found no blind spots. A rear backup camera helps you see behind when you get blocked at the mall by a pickup or need to pull out of an angled parking space facing the sidewalk.

Tall bucket seats were supportive on long highway drives. Second row seats are no hardship and leave plenty of room for cargo area storage.A reasonably sized spare sits under the cargo floor with the necessary tools encased in a one-piece unit.

The Edge interior appears modern, has soft touch surfaces, and is inviting until the center console and its electronic wizardry roar to life. There are so many screens, dials, and doo-dads that finding what you want in a jiff is not easy. If we could return to knobs, dials, and intuitive controls for heat, AC, and radio, it would be a relief. The downside of all the touch-screens in use today is revealed when the sun strikes at an angle and washes out what’s on the screen.

A large screen was useful, and helped with navigation up to and through Laconia near a state-owned facility, but then it failed to locate the destination. Anticipating such an eventuality, I had brought my Garmin, which had the address, and it picked up where the Ford left off.

Riding up I-93 gave me a chance to try out Ford’s MyTouch controls for hands-free use.While it seems improved over earlier versions, it annoys by asking you to repeat what you said previously. If you’ve ever repeated what you said in a louder voice when speaking to a grandparent over the phone, you knowwhat I mean. MyTouch is best left unused unless you desire heightened frustration and a sore throat from screaming at a digitized woman’s voice inside the dashboard. Again, simple knobs and buttons are still the best way to go.

Edge at first may seem top-heavy, but it’s not. Sitting atop a unibody frame, you experience a strong, smooth, and quiet ride. It was a great highway cruiser and soaked up a few bumps with ease.

The EcoBoost likewise was composed. When pressed, it responded, giving the Edge what was needed without matching the power inferred by the rear dual exhaust. A shift button alongside the gear selector provides more interaction, if desired. Steering was direct without overly compensating. In fact, this Edge surprised with sprite handling, maneuverability, and visibility.

This SUV/CUV is perfect for errand hopping and won’t let you languish during a long haul. It’s that comfortable and convenient. Edge’s luster wanes, however, with its price sticker, which comes in at just under $40k.

If you need seven seats, and want to stay with the Blue Oval, check out the trusty Explorer. If economy at the dealer and pump is a factor, the new Escape may well meet your need for spirited performance, creature comforts, and cost savings. As for this particular SUV, given the number of midsize competitors in the category, it’s the buyer who has the edge.