I’ve been bullish on the midsize Ford Edge since its debut in 2006, having driven the original 2007 model on its San Francisco launch and in following years tested a 2009 Sport, a 2011 Sport, and a 2013 Sport.
Looking at my list of loaners you’d think Sport was the only trim available, but the Edge is also offered in SE, SEL, and Titanium designations. I just happened to get lucky each time my turn came around and the top-line Sport found its way into my garage. The same goes for this 2016 model, an SUV that reminded me why Lincoln sales suffer.
Don’t get me wrong: The latest MKX is an excellent alternative to more popular premium badges, but let’s face it, crowds of luxury buyers aren’t exactly flocking over to Lincoln showrooms from Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW dealerships in order to swap their respective RX, M-Class, and X5 SUVs. Most Lincoln sales come from those stepping up from their trusty Ford, and the Edge is simply too good for owners to give up, especially this new, second-generation model.
As far as styling goes it’s a toss-up. I personally like them both, with the Lincoln’s elegant winged grille certainly more unique, and Ford’s broad, chromed or in this case blackened hexagon more masculine. The rest of the 2016 Ford Edge Sport’s detailing hardly hurts styling matters either, from its deeply sculpted hood to its heavily vented, LED-accented, and aero-aided lower front fascia, past its optional dark grey-painted 21” rims wrapped in sticky 265/40 Pirelli Scorpion rubber.
The side bodywork ripples with muscular creases, folds, and yet more go-fast aero bits, while at the very back is a large rooftop spoiler that hangs over a cool set of mostly white-lensed LED taillights complete with a subtle new centre extension that bridges the gap under the rear glass. Last but certainly not least, the rear bumper integrates a matte black diffuser flanked by a striking pair of rectangular, chromed exhaust tips. It’s 100% badass!
Well, badass until you get inside the 2016 Ford Edge Sport. First off, I wouldn’t recommend bringing your friends along for a ride. They’ll be sure you’re just as rough and rugged as you’ve always been when you drive by, but once in the passenger’s seat they’ll know you’ve gone soft. That’s because the new Edge is downright luxurious.
Almost the entire dash top is finished in a rubberized, soft-touch composite that continues down the sides of the centre stack and then all the way along the top ridges of the lower console. You won’t even find that level of luxury in the majority of premium-branded midsize SUVs. Meanwhile, the uppers are finished in the same pliable synthetic, and the door inserts get even nicer padded leather complete with diagonal contrast stitching. The armrests are detailed out identically except for the French stitching. Satin silver and chrome accents brighten up key areas around the cabin, while a carbon-like inlay dresses up the instrument panel ahead of the front passenger.
The steering wheel is appropriately leather-clad, although it feels a bit thin for a sport model. All of the switchgear on its spokes is first-rate quality with a tight fit and high-end damping. Ditto for the rest of the buttons, knobs, and toggles throughout the interior. The assortment on my tester’s centre stack even included optional 3-level front-seat coolers to go along with its standard 3-level heaters.
The 2016 Ford Edge Sport’s digital interfaces are as good as this segment gets, with the brand’s trademark dual displays flanking an analog speedometer, plus arguably the best-in-class infotainment system at the moment sitting atop the centre stack. The Edge Sport incorporates SYNC 3 that hooks up your smartphone with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and is now as easy to use as such systems get. Its powder blue/white colouring scheme and ultra-minimal graphics make it one of the more attractive, too, while some tablet-like upgrades include pinch and swipe capability, voice recognition that actually works, and easier setup processes.
The usual infotainment functions are improved upon by a rear-view camera featuring active guidelines, superb phone and wireless audio connectivity, and loads of available apps. The Sport’s standard Sony audio system is equally superb, and my tester was equipped with optional navigation, as well.
No shortage of space
Also notable, the front seats in this midsize SUV are excellent with good inherent design and 10-way adjustability for personal fine-tuning. Their perforated suede inserts and solid leather bolsters look rich, too ― once again as stylish as anything from the premium segment. The rear seats boast an identical design and were almost as comfortable thanks to good lower back support, not to mention the 2-level heated outboard cushions in my tester.
The 2016 Ford Edge Sport is also spacious with lots of legroom and ample head and shoulder room in the rear. The folding centre armrest features the usual dual cup holders, while the doors are finished in a similar high-end treatment to those up front. Overall, the comfortable rear quarters are open and airy-feeling, no doubt enhanced by the massive panoramic sunroof.
The 60/40-split rear seatbacks recline for extra comfort or fold forward for additional cargo room when needed (in Sport trim the seatbacks power-fold via buttons on the cargo wall). Once laid flat, the trunk expands from a sizable 1,111 litres to 2,078 litres. Rear access comes by simply waving a foot under the bumper, after which the power liftgate does the rest.
Back in the driver’s seat, I realized this was my second stint with Ford’s impressive new, turbocharged and direct-injected 2.7L EcoBoost V6. Feeling nearly as powerful in the 2016 Edge Sport as it did in the MKX, this engine combines thrill-a-minute performance with a level of smooth sophistication many of its competitors can’t rival. It produces 315 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is 20 horsepower and 30 lb-ft shy of the same mill used in the Lincoln, but still enough to put a grin on my face at full throttle.
Quick acceleration isn’t the only benefactor, mind you, with the 2.7L EcoBoost-powered Edge Sport achieving a competitive 13.6L/100km city and 9.8L/100km highway rating ― considerably better than the MKX’s 14.4 city and 10.3 highway. Both utilize a refined and proven 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission; it’s not the most advanced for the premium class, but par for the course in the Edge’s mainstream market. Paddle shifters help make the most of its capability, while standard AWD keeps all four wheels engaged with terra firma.
The 2.7L makes a nice guttural sound at takeoff, the exhaust joining in with a deeper and more resonant waffling noise than expected for this powertrain’s smallish size. Its pull from standstill feels downright V8-like, the turbo causing a slingshot effect that leads to a 0-100km/h time of 6.2 seconds.
This is where the agile suspension comes into play, keeping the 2016 Ford Edge Sport fully planted at high speeds no matter if you’re headed down the straight and narrow or traversing a ribboning coil of curves and undulations. Really, experiencing the way this SUV handles you’d think BMW’s blue and white roundel was fixed to the hood. I’m willing to bet it’d be best-in-class if pitted against its real challengers on the track, and I suspect it would also put up a good fight against premium contenders.
Packed full of features
At $44,649, the well-equipped 2016 Ford Edge Sport slots in where lower-end, luxury-branded midsize SUVs start off, although my particular example added $450 worth of gorgeous Bronze Fire paint and those stunning 21” alloys at $950, plus a $4,500 upgrade package with HID headlamps, auto high beams, adaptive steering, a power tilt and telescoping steering column, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a 180-degree front camera, enhanced active parking assist, a heated steering wheel, cooled front and heated rear seats, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and more. The $2,000 Canadian Touring package added navigation and the panoramic sunroof.
All these options pushed the Edge Sport’s price up to $52,549, which is about where medium-priced, premium-branded SUVs start. To put it all into context, Ford offers the same Edge with less power and fewer features for just $31,349, while most luxury SUVs with options similar to my tester reach up into the $60k-$80k region.
The Lincoln MKX is a lot less expensive than its fancy-badged competitors, the well-endowed model I previously tested being only $3,751 pricier than this Edge Sport, so you should really try both. Trust me, there are a lot of good reasons for choosing the MKX over the Edge and vice versa, but there are even more reasons to choose either Canadian-made product over their long list of challengers.
The Edge achieved top-3 sales status in the midsize SUV segment last year, but after the first four months of 2016 it’s managed to land in second place overall and is quickly catching first. As many will remember from a once-popular game show, asking the audience is the best way to get help when making an important decision, and when it comes to the Ford Edge you’ll be well served to follow the crowd.