Does the Ford Edge really need any introduction? Redrawn for the 2015 model-year, it’s one of the most popular sport utility vehicles in its category. Designed to transport five people, it compares most closely with the Hyundai Sante Fe Sport, Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee. A 3,750-km journey gave us an opportunity to evaluate the 2017 Ford Edge Sport in greater depth.
The Ford Edge returns spruced up for 2017 with a more distinctive line highlighted by a massive grille, tapered headlights and more pointed rear lights. The specific object of our interest was the Sport version, featuring a more race-minded interior, a full roster of equipment and, most importantly, the 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6, able to generate 315 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. This engine is bolted to a 6-speed automatic transmission (which the driver can handle manually thanks to paddle shifters on the steering wheel) and all-wheel drive (obviously a highly useful feature in wintertime, but also relevant when navigating wet pavement in any season). Also distinguishing the Edge Sport are its Hancock 245/50 tires mounted on 20-inch alloy wheels.
All of this will no doubt excite the passions of fans of performance cars, but for the purposes of this article, it’s the touring side of the Edge that’s our focus!
First stage – Montreal to Wildwood
There’s no better way to evaluate a vehicle than to test it out long-term. We started out from Montreal in the Ford Edge Sport in the direction of Wildwood, New Jersey, a resort town on the Atlantic coast which is popular with young families. It’s also the setting in early June every year of an event known as the Race of Gentlemen, a veritable happening for pre-1935 race cars (fitted with engines predating 1953) and for motorcycles from the pre-World War II era. It all takes place in a reserved space on the beach, and includes drag races on a 1/8th-mile stretch of sand.
To get there, we headed south on picturesque highways, including the 15 South out of Montreal, which turns into Interstate 87 once across the American border, and through the Adirondack and Catskill mountain ranges in New York State. The route is superb, and it includes substantial climbs and descents that the Ford Edge Sport tamed with ease thanks to the adaptive cruise control, which slows the vehicle when it approaches another, slower-moving car, then brings it back up to cruising speed when the road is clear. In terms of power, the V6 EcoBoost barely broke into a sweat.
Just before arriving in New York, we turned off in the direction of Cape May, taking our Edge onto the toll highway known as the Garden State Parkway, which in sections widens to eight lanes! The road was flat but the traffic substantial.
The really standout feature of the Edge Sport is its EcoBoost engine that delivers surprisingly muscular performances. It takes less than 6 seconds to go from a stop to 100 km/h, and its passing capabilities are equally impressive. Performance fans will note that Ford has amplified the sound produced by the V6 thanks to Engine Sound Enhancement technology, which actually works via the vehicle’s audio speakers. The result is that when the V6 is pushed hard, the sound heard inside the cabin (when the windows are closed) is akin to that produced by a V8! One thing that could potentially annoy is the impossibility of adjusting the system.
Second stage – Wildwood to Indianapolis
Heading out of Wildwood, we left the Atlantic coast in the rearview mirror and made our way inland towards the beginnings of the American Midwest – more precisely to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was hosting the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) event showcasing 1960s-vintage racing cars, old Formulas and even cars from the new Trans Am 2 series.
The stage started out in the Atlantic City region, the toll highway Route 76 taking us across New Jersey and Pennsylvania; we then took Route 70 through to the Pittsburgh area, then on to West Virginia with its tunnels carved through mountains, Ohio and its verdant valleys and, lastly, Indiana and its agriculture-friendly plains.
For the long-distance traveler, the 2017 Ford Edge Sport is designed and built to be a near-ideal companion. Not only is it spacious, it’s exceedingly comfortable and quiet, and the visibility it provides is excellent. On the other hand, its massive hood hinders the ability to evaluate distances right in front of the vehicle (something the front camera can resolve, at least for parking). The dashboard is of modern design and contains all the instrumentation you could possibly need on a long road trip. The driver has access to a very useful info centre giving fuel consumption levels and other essential data. At the centre of the dashboard is a large screen that helpfully displays details provided by the new SYNC 3 system (which is significantly more user-friendly than its predecessor), as well as music-related info. This same screen also serves as a back-up or parking aid. The steering wheel features its own set of buttons for different functions, though there’s no doubt the vocal commands, which allow the driver to keep his eyes on the road, are likely to be used more often.
The front seats with multiple adjustable settings ensure a high level of comfort. They are of course heated, but over the course of our summertime journey under a beating sun, we made good use of the ventilation system for these seats, which makes them even more comfortable. Also worth noting is the surfeit of storage spaces and cup holders. In back, the bench can accommodate three passengers, though only the two outside seats are heated. As for the enormous sliding glass sunroof, it’s a wise move breaking out the sunscreen when driving under a relentless Midwestern sun like we were.
The most interesting feature of the interior, however, lies further back, in the rear cargo area. For two people traveling to the beach then to the centre of the country, it was able to hold not only all of our luggage but various other accessories, like chairs and coolers. Simply swiping your leg under the rear bumper gives access by automatically lifting (or closing) the hatchback. The space also features a luggage cover tarp and anchor points. And if you want to tow something even larger behind the vehicle, the Ford Edge Sport equipped with the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 can pull up to 2,000 lbs. Other versions with the 3.5L V6 under the hood can tow up to 3,500 lbs!
Driving on Routes 76 and 70 does require some amount of concentration, even with all the newfangled drive-assist technologies like the blind-spot obstacle detector and the adaptive cruise control. In fact, while the posted speed limit is 70 mph (113 km/h), it’s wiser and safer to keep up with the traffic flow, which moves at between 80 and 85 mph (129 to 137 km/h); this of course also affects fuel consumption.
Third stage – Indianapolis to Montreal
After a day spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and admiring the famous race cars displayed at its incredible museum, it was time for us to return back to our starting point, this time via the under-maintained roads of Michigan. After floating along earlier on interstates thanks to its gentle ride and extraordinarily quiet cabin, we now gained an appreciation for the supple suspension of the Ford Edge Sport.
The return trip took us through Detroit (it was startling to realize how many places we visited or passed by that were related to the automobile in some way), and across the river bearing the same name towards Ontario; then, the 401 in direction of Montreal. By the way, the detour that takes motorists around Toronto via the 407 and the 412 (cost of around $40) is worth the expenditure for the significant amount of time it saves.
By the end of our long trip, our 2017 Ford Edge Sport – which has a base price of $46,495 - had used an average of 9.2L/100 km – not too bad given that we drove for much of it far above the ideal fuel-saving speeds.
When pressed it is possible to find fault with the new Edge; for example the turning radius is too large to permit certain parking manoeuvres. But overall, long road-trippers will be overjoyed with the capabilities of the Ford Edge Sport when racking up the miles on our beautiful North American highways.