2008 Ford Edge Review
By Igor Holas with Melissa J. Sanchez
Immediately after its release, the Edge has taken the car market by storm, sprinting past competitors and effectively establishing itself as a serious contender in the on-road-SUV (a.k.a. Crossover) segment. However, the Edge was surrounded by quite a bit of controversy – the mainstream press universally panned it as mediocre at best, while conversely, buyers could not get enough of it. In most cases, there is a relationship between what automotive media and customers think about a car, but in the case of the Edge – consumers obviously have seen it as attractive car worth their cash.
Needless to say, Melissa and I were excited to see what we would think of this highly popular SUV; if you remember, we began our car-reviewing career by giving a glowing two thumbs up to a car both panned by journalists and unloved by the public. After a week in the Edge, we have to admit the Edge is not quite on top of its game, and while we loved it, and would consider it for our own car, there were obvious missteps made, and we would still prefer the Taurus X by a great margin.
About the car
The Edge was released in 2007 as a direct response to the highly popular Nissan Murano. Like the Murano, the Edge bet on providing luxurious space for five occupants. Unlike compact crossovers, the Edge and Murano added significant interior width, upscale interior, refinement, and standard V6 power. The Edge was a very clear copy-cat of the Murano, but within three months of release it barreled past the Murano and quickly became the best selling non-compact SUV on the market.
Both these SUVs use a mid-size front-drive car platform as the base, but add all-wheel-drive capability, additional ground clearance, and a sleek tall-hatchback look. They are the modern day wagons – adding just enough off-road pretense, and a nod to SUV styling, to avoid the dreaded wagon label. You should be excited that we are driving the all new 2009 Murano right now and will publish the review, including comparison to the Edge next week.
One of the key reasons of the Edge’s success has been pricing. The base Edge SE starts at under $26,000. Our tester was a 2008 Ford Edge Limited FWD, which starts at $30,320. The tested car included the panoramatic Vista roof ($1,395), DVD Navigation ($1,995), power lift gate ($490), and Sirius radio ($195) for a total price including destination of $35,100.
Compared to the old Nissan Murano the Edge is over $6,000 cheaper, but the new 2009 Murano introduced a significant price cut, and now the Murano is only about $2,000 more expensive. Compared to the slightly smaller Mazda CX-7, the Edge is also about $2,000 cheaper.
Compared to smaller compact-crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, the Edge is about $2,000 more expensive. Compared to seven-passenger midsize crossovers such as the Honda Pilot, or Toyota Highlander, the Edge is about $3,000 cheaper and about $1,000 cheaper than the Rav4. The Edge is just as expensive as the larger Taurus X, but it is about $3,000 cheaper than the new, more upscale Flex. As always we used True Delta’s Feature Adjusted price comparisons.
If there is one aspect of the exterior design that truly establishes the attractiveness of the car, it would be the proportions. Many past and current SUVs and Crossovers have been tall, long and narrow; to set itself apart, the Edge adds substantial girth, while removing the boxiness of older designs by having a radically raked front and rear windshield. The overall shape is sleek and dare we say, sporty.
Ford designers did a great job of using this canvas and sculpted some very attractive lines in the body. The front sports the best interpretation of Ford’s “Red White and Bold” design theme. This theme, nicknamed “Dave” strives to build almost toy-like simple designs that instantly scream Ford to the onlookers. While the giant slab of chrome is most often referenced as the key element of “Dave,” it is the simple lines, lack of styling gimmicks and perfect proportions that are true keys to the styling language; the chrome bar is just one of the features. The Edge is currently the only car on the market designed from the get-go with Dave-styling in mind, and it shows. While it might look a little bland from some angles, your eyes are constantly drawn along the continuous lines examining the sculpted body. As always, styling preference is highly subjective, but Melissa and I liked the design very much.
Driving the Edge
We did not have any fancy trips planned for the week with the Edge, so it was relegated to our pedestrian schedule – getting the groceries and cat litter, getting Melissa to work, and driving us to TGI Friday’s for a mid-week evening out.
Unlike many of other SUVs we have tested previously, the Edge was expressly designed for this kind of duty. While all-wheel-drive is available (but not present on our tester), the Edge is tuned specifically for on-road situations, such as icy patch or rapid acceleration. The suspension is also tuned without a nary bit of off-road ambition, and the sole reason for fortified underbody sub-frame is to deliver 3,500 pound towing, not to withstand strut forces of the Rubicon trail. The Edge is a wagon designed to look like an SUV, because we, the sometimes simple-minded fad-prone American buyers, are so hung up on not driving a wagon.
In this duty, the Edge performed exceptionally. The fully-independent suspension was typically Ford-refined, swallowing road irregularities with real appetite and keeping most noises out of the cabin. In turns, you could feel the rig weighed almost 4,300 pounds, but the Edge was nowhere near afraid of curves. The body roll was well controlled, but was more noticeable than in the lower-inertia-positioned Taurus X. While we never managed to make the tires screech for help, we did push the Edge to the point when we felt worried – and while that point came a lot sooner than on the Taurus X (or a car) it was well beyond the point when we gave up with any other SUV we have tested to date (the Escape included).
The engine under-hood is Ford’s new and coveted 3.5 liter Duratec V6 delivering 265 horses and 250 foot-pounds of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the power was delivered quickly and smoothly anytime we asked for it. At lower load, the engine transmits a higher-pitch noise to the cabin, but open up the throttle and almost-V8 like roar accompanies the surge of power. The gas pedal is a little light and lifeless, but after a few times behind the wheel we got used to it.
A lot has been said about the Edge’s brakes. When it was released, it tested with longer-than-average stopping distance. Inside sources indicated the problem was caused by Ford’s bad choice of tires and ABS calibration and was resolved for the 2008 model year. While we do not have the equipment to test the exact stopping distance, we tried several panic stops, and they were as short as we would expect.
A comfortable driving position was easily found thanks to the tilt-telescoping wheel, and a seat with a good range of settings. However the seat was only “half power” as only fore-aft slide, seat height, and cushion angle were power-adjustable. Seat-back angle and lumbar were both manually adjusted. This has been a common issue at Ford, and at this price point an unwelcome one; however, it seems newer models like the Taurus X are finally using a full-power seat. The seats were also very comfortable, and offered good comfort in mild driving and good support in the curves. The visibility was generally good in all angles, but the rear windshield is quite narrow and the rearward-view is quite restricted. We did not ever feel unsafe driving the car – it was just odd to see all for edges of the rear windshield in your rear-view mirror.
Living inside the Edge
The Edge sports a cabin design that tries to be more modern and hip than anything else in the Ford family. The dash is low and deep, with neat styling details. This stylishness carries over to the seats that sport attractive leather with contrast stitching and more styling details. Moreover, the low-deep design makes the car feel extraordinarily wide and airy despite surprisingly limited headroom. Overall, the tester’s black leather interior had an excellent first impression of space and luxury. However, upon closer examination the interior just does not seem quite as well executed as the Taurus X.
First and foremost, many details about the dash seem cheaper than necessary. All the materials, except for the door’s elbow pad and the center arm-rest are made of hard plastic – a decent-quality hard plastic, but hard plastic nonetheless. The passenger side dash also has an unsightly array of cut lines as Ford decided to highlight the position of the passenger air bag. There is also no grab-handle for the front passenger. Finally, Ford installed mismatching trim around the front cabin. For example, the vents on the side of the center stack are surrounded by actual shiny chrome, but those by the doors are surrounded by matte grey plastic. Similarly, while the center stack is covered by attractive metallic-looking material, on the portion around the shifter the material is again a dull grey plastic. Upon noticing these details Melissa proclaimed: “Do they think we are too stupid to notice!?!” I agree.
The cabin was comfortable otherwise. The controls were Ford’s standard-issue parts – no surprises there. All the controls were logically placed and easy to use, even if they did not feel or look quite as expensive as the new controls in the Escape.
As mentioned previously the seats were very comfortable, and the rest of the front cabin also provided nice features. The arm rest cubby is nice and big with a power point, and SYNC’s USB and line-in connections. As in the Escape, the compartment has several trays and dividers inside, which are supposed to make the space flexible and adjustable, but as with the Escape, we found these annoying and in the way, and would prefer a more traditional two-tier arrangement. The glove box is not large, but it is big enough, and the Edge provided quite an array of trays, slots and other storage options all around the cabin. As usual for Ford, all the trays were lined with removable rubber inserts.
Overhead was Ford’s new Vista panoramatic sunroof with power sunshades. Unlike the similar sunroof in the Land Rover LR2, the Vista roof enlarges the glass panel above the front passengers making the cabin feel more airy. Also when opened, the opening is larger than the roof on the LR2, and is very effective in cooling down the interior on hot sunny days. We did not like it as much as the Sky Slider in the Liberty, but the Vista roof is so far our favorite glass sun roof, and we enjoyed it quite a bit.
If the presence of the Vista roof and additional space did not convince you that the Edge is superior to the Escape, the rear seats will. There is a surprising amount of space for the rear occupants, and the seats are very comfortable. The Edge offers several luxuries for the rear occupants, such as nicely reclining seatbacks, and arm rest with cup holders. Unlike the Spartan and uncomfortable seats in the Escape, sitting in the back of the Edge is no punishment.
The rear seats fold flat with a single pull on lever (or a push of a button from the cargo bay), and open up the cargo space. The stuff-hauling area of the Edge is devoid of any tie-downs, bag hooks, or other helpful features and given its large flat space this means that your stuff will be sliding around. There is also no cargo cover, so whatever you leave in the back will be visible and serve as potential bait for crooks. We understand that some of you might feel we are nitpicking, but many competitors offer ingenious cargo management systems which offer true value to their customers, and it is time Ford upped the ante in the thoughtful-details department.
Overall, living in the Edge was no hardship no matter where you sat. However compared to the Taurus X, the Edge felt less solid, and less luxurious. It was far from the bare-bones feel of the Escape, but given its price tag (and its competitors) we expected a little more. The basics are there, and the design is excellent, but the devil is in the details, and, as with the Escape, we felt Ford did not pay enough attention to those – mismatched trim, lacking grab handles and cargo tie-downs, and semi-manual seats might be all minor quibbles, but go a long way to make the car feel cheaper than necessary.
Navigation, Audio System, and Drive Information System
Our test vehicle was equipped with voice-activated touch-screen navigation, SYNC, Sirius satellite radio, and six-CD changer with MP3 playback. Everything worked just fine and the experience was as we remembered it from the Taurus X.
However, after driving two vehicles from Jeep, and enjoying their updated navigation and audio systems, and advanced driver information center, we confirmed our initial feeling that they were in many aspects better than their Ford counterparts. The Edge’s navigation sports a dull-blue interface that is showing its age and its POI database is starting to be outdated. The guidance is very precise, more precise than the Jeep or Land Rover, but the map is not quite as feature-laden.
The audio controls were also not quite as intuitive as the Jeep’s. For example, Ford forces you to choose whether you want to see your presets, or audio functions, such as Scan on the screen. So if you become tired of your stations, and want to just flip through what is available, it takes two clicks, and a few seconds to get there. This might be a minor quibble, but it was annoying in our use.
Finally, Ford’s two-line DIC (driver information center) is significantly more basic than the Jeep’s design, and also feels outdated. For example when checking tire pressure, you either get “OK” or “Low” – but no indication of which tire is low. The Jeep’s system shows you a neat graphic with the tire pressure of each tire – so you can decide whether you want to top any of them off before setting on your drive.
Overall, we felt that Jeep’s MyGIG system with its built in hard drive, more modern interface, and up to date maps was better. However, the UConnect system is not quite as advanced as Ford’s SYNC, and as I mentioned previously, we failed to pair our phone with UConnect in both Jeeps we had tested. Ford will also address many of our complaints this summer, as all 2009 models will feature a brand new navigation system with built in hard drive, new interface, much expanded POI database, new, more advanced maps, and Sirius’ travel link service. We will let you know how we like the new system once we test it. However, it seems that for now, Ford has no plans to update the driver information center.
We do not usually break out fuel economy into its own section, but we felt it was necessary this time. The simple reason is the exceptionality of the mileage we were getting with the Edge. Around town, you can easily feel the effect of the hefty curb weight, and V6 power, and we averaged only twelve miles per gallon. However, this was in our usual urban driving environment of a traffic light or four-way stop sign at each block, and the resulting endless stop-and-go chore. However, once the Edge was underway on a green wave, or driving in a more suburban setting with fewer lights and better traffic flow, the mileage immediately jumped to almost twenty miles per gallon. Finally, in relaxed highway cruising (without cruise control) we averaged above thirty miles per gallon! We expected 25, maybe even 27 from the Edge, but seeing consistent 30 and even 33 mpg in such a big car was very surprising. In all of our highway drives, traffic conditions had us drive right at the 60 miles per hour sweet-spot, so our results are no-doubt higher than we would get on a true interstate; nonetheless, the Edge is very frugal for a car its size and with so much power, and along with its exceptional ride comfort, went a long way making us forget about the interior missteps.
Melissa and I were very excited to drive the Edge. And when underway, we thoroughly enjoyed the ride, the comfort, the features, and the fuel efficiency. However within days of returning the Edge, writing this review has become a chore – while there are many great features about the Edge, the overall experience was simply forgettable. We have read many reviews calling the Edge mediocre, and while we would not go that far, the Edge has left us feeling a little unsatisfied and longing for more – for that one final step that would have made the car perfect.
The Edge is nowhere near a bad car – it is actually very, very good. It is safe, reliable, well built, attractive, and well priced. However, the Edge found itself at odds with our personal preferences. In the end we preferred the packaging offered by the Taurus X. However, if the complaint we have had throughout this review seem minor, or irrelevant to you, the Edge is simply a great car and worth its price.
IMAGE GALLERY: Click here for more images of the Edge.
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