The crossover market is the Amazonian Rain Forest of the proverbial automotive jungle. Here, shoppers can stray from a $20,000 path to a near $100,000 one if they're not smart and don't follow a guide -- i.e., the budget and priorities.
For most families, the $30,000-to-$50,000 range is where the majority will get lost and be eaten alive without the right guidance. In this segment, Ford's got you covered in no less than four ways: the new 2013 Escape, the Edge, the Explorer and the Flex.
The ins and outs
Although the segment is fairly well defined, the sky's still the limit as to what a CUV is. A 2012 Range Rover Evoque coupe may not strike one as being a CUV but in fact it is. The 2012 Ford Edge is fresh from a 2011 facelift that took the otherwise bulbous, timid CUV to what we see today, which is a well-favoured, confident vehicle.
In Limited guise, the Edge is treated to extra chrome, big wheels and additional trimmings. In basic SE form, the Edge is still quite appealing. Its flanks are firm and solid but where the vehicle really shines is up front, thanks to its three-slat grille that in large part defines the Edge's personality.
The 2012 Ford Edge is a sure-footed people mover that, in a typical setting, backs down from nothing. Comfort is an important aspect of the Edge's calling card. Its roomy cabin can transport five passengers without fail and its trunk volume is capacious enough to take on more than a weekend's worth of gear.
The front seats are plenty good for any type of journey as is the rear bench. Up front, the 2012 Ford Edge's dashboard is handsome but uneasy to work with. In fact, the crowning jewel of Ford latest interface technology, MyFord Touch, is nothing short of a pain in the ass.
It may be an old story but so long as Ford keeps touting the advantages of the system, I'll continue to criticize it. As you can see in the gallery, it gets cold in Canada. If you happen to be wearing gloves (non-iPhone friendly ones), the MFT interface does not respond to the touch unless you go in hard and with the heel of your thumb. What's more, the system froze on me on Day 1 of my week-long test. Only on the third on-off ignition dance did the MFT reboot.
There are few companies these days that offer more than one powerplant in their CUVs. Ford gives the buyer three options. The newest and most interesting is the turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder. Its output may be the lowest of the three at 240 (the others are a 285 hp 3.5L V6 and a 305 hp 3.7L V6) but its torque figure is the second-highest at 270 lb-ft. Best of all, given the boosted nature of the mill, the power comes on tap the soonest.
This is why the 2.0T is the ideal motivational partner for the Edge. With the standard-for-all 6-speed autobox, the Edge has all the get-up-and-go any like-sized crossover needs. Off the line or when passing, boost builds up nicely, creating barely any noticeable lag and Edge scuttles on. I spent a large amount of time in a 2012 EcoBoosted Explorer and the story is quite different.
Unlike the Explorer, in the 2012 Ford Edge, there are real fuel consumption gains to be had. The last V6 Ford Edge I drove returned an average of roughly 12.5L/100 km. With this one, because of the EcoBoost, I managed just under 11L/100km. More frequent highway drives would have further reduced the number, posting a near 20% improvement over the V6.
No AWD with 2.0T
I need to complain a little here. As the subtitle states, if you want the refined, efficient and, IMO, cool 2.0T, you cannot get AWD. This may be explained by the fact that, upon introduction, no Ford product was available with the 2.0 EcoBoost and AWD. This will soon change when the 2013 Escape arrives in a few months.
I expect that AWD will become an option with the Edge (Explorer as well) for the 2014 model year. The fact that you can already build a 2013 Edge on Ford's website leads me to believe that I'm right.
The Edge has always done well on paved roads, regardless of speed. Ford's midsize crossover has a very weighted feel to it, which generates confidence. It gives the driver the impression the Edge will not be stopped by any other force than that of the driver's inputs.
The ride is generally smooth, even when the Edge is shod with the 20" wheels. I would even add that the vehicle's composure is nearly luxurious, a statement that is easy to make especially when we consider the level of kit in the 2012 Ford Edge Limited.
I would not go so far as to say that the Edge is fun to drive but its handling and road manners will never be reasons to regret the purchase.
Ford packs in a lot of Edge and content in the sub- $30,000 base FWD SE model. Some compact CUVs retail for only a few grand less and you get exactly that. At the other end of the range, the $37,999 Limited and the $43,499 Sport versions are nothing short of luxurious CUVs minus the badge. Loaded with options at about $41,500, the as-tested FWD Limited with EcoBoost lacks nothing but AWD.
Amongst its competitors, the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe deliver similar promises of value, driving competence and comfort. The Sorento offers a third row while the 2012 Santa Fe will be doused with incentives. All are worthy of your attention.