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2011 Ford Edge
Further refinement means this crossover has been honed to a very fine Edge indeed

By Malcolm Gunn

2011 Ford EdgeIf there's a formula for success in automotive design and content, the Ford Edge would appear to hold the patent.

The automaker's popular five-passenger front-, or optional all-wheel-drive wagon has received significant sprucing up for 2011 and now offers greater performance, improved fuel economy and a bolder design.

The Edge has become a staple in the Ford lineup since its 2007 model-year inception, picking up at least some of the sales slack from the once-mighty Explorer sport ute. Although not as roomy or off-road rugged as the Explorer, the Edge's modern styling, significantly improved fuel economy and similar pricepoint attracted plenty of interest. According to Ford, Notth American Sales have exceeded 330,000.

So when a styling update is in the cards, what does Ford do? For starters, refine, refine, refine . . . and take a bit of squareness out of the look.

For the 2011 model year, the massive new nosepiece appears to have been influenced by Ford's F-250 Super Duty pickup and showcases a cornucopia of chrome on all but the Sport model, which wears a more sinister-looking blacked-out grille. The hood and front fenders have been reshaped and there are new taillights.

2011 Ford EdgeThe updated Edge makes quite an imposing visual statement, but the alterations run deeper. There are revised shocks and springs and the brakes have been upgraded, but the most noticeable revisions - at least if you're seated behind the wheel - are the three new powerplants. The base 3.5-litre V6/six-speed-automatic-transmission combo has 20 more horsepower - now 285 -  and is used in the SE, SEL and Limited trim levels.

More power, yes, and Ford is bragging up the improved 11.2/7.4 (city/highway) l/100 km fuel-economy numbers. By comparison, the outgoing model's best rating was 12.8/8.4

The Edge Sport, a model added to the lineup for 2009, is now the exclusive recipient of a 305-horsepower 3.7-litre V6. The Sport also comes with 22-inch wheels (17-20-inchers come on other trim levels), sharper suspension, lower body cladding, unique black leather interior and paddle shifters that rev match the downshifts (to maintain vehicle stability) for the six-speed automatic transmission.

The enriched 3.5- and the new 3.7-litre engines should also help spice up the 1,865-1,955-kilogram Edge's acceleration.

By late 2010, you'll be able to select a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that's expected to produce about 230 horsepower. It will be connected to a new six-speed automatic transmission that does away with the fuel- and power-sapping torque converter.

The new Edge promises to be much more technology driven than before in other areas, led by the MyFord Touch voice- and touch-screen-activated controls. This option replaces most of the usual instrumentation with two 10.7-centimetre-diagonal screens positioned on either side of the speedometer, plus a 20.3-centimetre screen in the centre  stack.

2011 Ford EdgeTogether with a game-controller-style "smart" button on the steering wheel, MyFord Touch manages a variety of climate, communications, navigation, infotainment and other vehicle functions in a fairly intuitive fashion and without the usual buttons and switches littering the control area.

There are also touch-based controls for the audio volume and ventilation fan speed. Cabin-temperature settings can also be programmed into the system, according to each of the vehicle's two keyless ignition fobs.

Other options include blind-spot-detection outside mirrors and adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead. And for music lovers, the available Apple iTunes Tagging means you can save up to 100 music selections from the online iTunes store and then buy them for your iPod or iPhone.

The preened and polished Edge, with a base price of $29,500, raises the bar on many fronts with its equal-parts elixir of breakout styling, abundant content and updated power choices.

Thus far, no competitor has really stepped up to the plate to best this excellent family hauler. The latest iteration simply keeps it on the edge.

What you should know: 2011 Ford Edge

Type: Four-door, mid-size, five-passenger front- /all-wheel-drive wagon
Engines (hp): 3.5-litre DOHC V6 (285); 3.7-litre DOHC V6 (305)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Market position: The upgraded Edge operates in the mid-priced range alongside numerous domestic- and import-based tall wagons that, for the most part, borrow their basic platforms and powertrains from car-based offerings.
Points: Restyled exterior eye both eye-catching and attractive; 3.5 V6's added power, improved fuel economy like having your cake and eating it, too; Soon-to-arrive turbo four-cylinder should provide high-revving fun and even more fuel savings; AWD adds $6,560 to price, but also adds other goodies; MyFord Touch replaces dials and knobs, brings control panel into 21st century.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
MPG (city/hwy): 11.2/7.4 (3.5, FWD)
Base price (incl. destination): $29,500

By comparison    

Nissan Murano (AWD)
Base price: $39,900
A classy, but pricey hauler with a strong-running V6 and a fashionable interior.

Subaru Outback H6
Base price: $37,200
Bigger-for-2010 AWD wagon has  big cargo and passenger space.

Toyota Venza V6
Base price: $30,900
Quiet, smooth-running Camry-based V6 wagon delivers sufficient punch.

Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!

Posted March 14, 2011. © CarTest.ca TM


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