Many but not all SUV fans know that Ford decided to create an ST-badged version of its Edge SUV at the end of 2018. The 2019 Ford Edge ST is the result, and it’s the first utility model from the manufacturer to get this treatment (although we’ve seen it before on this side of the Atlantic with the Fiesta ST and Focus ST versions).
Times have changed at Ford, to say the least. The automaker has erased all car models from its North American lineup with the exception of the Mustang. Here, Ford is now pretty much exclusively a utility-and-pickup brand.
To pique the interest of fans of sporty driving, Ford decided to spice up its five-seat crossover for 2019. The question is whether this big lug can make us forget about those nervy little cars appreciated by so many in the last few years.
So what’s so special about the Ford Edge ST?
The automaker didn’t settle for sticking ST badging on the two ends of the vehicles – fortunately! First off, the exterior design is a bit more aggressive, starting with the front bumper and the available 21-inch wheels (standard size is 20-inch) leading to the back end that gets (ornamental) trapezoidal exhaust tips. The performance Blue colour scheme certainly attracts the eye, although the more demure among you will be glad to know that Ford is making subtler colours available as well.
The ST version of the 2019 Edge also comes with revised shocks, larger anti-roll bars, bigger brakes in back, performance brake discs and bigger (21-inch only) low-profile tires.
That’s not all, though. The 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 gets a boost in power and torque compared to last year’s Sport trim, so that drivers now benefit from 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Wedded to this 6-cylinder is an able 8-speed automatic transmission, which is capable of faster shifting when Sport mode is engaged (done via a button in the middle of the gear knob).
Like all sport versions, the Ford Edge ST also gets a reworked interior – although I should be clear, the ST edition is still relatively sober in demeanour. It does gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel with ST badging on the lower portion, Alcantara leather inserts in the centre of the seats. FORD PERFORMANCE door trim and more ST badging embossed on the front seats.
At the wheel of a big lug
A performance-focused utility has the complicated task of delivering more in terms of road handling, accelerations and even braking. The modifications made to the 2019 Edge ST do make it the most dynamic SUV in the Ford lineup; the powertrain gives extra punch to accelerations, even though the vehicle weighs a hefty 2,030 kg.
But here’s where you find the model’s Achilles heel. Taking corners at any kind of speed just takes more work. What’s more, if you’re diving it in wintertime like I did for my test, it’s wise to anticipate the braking distance you’ll need, lest you find yourself getting intimately acquainted with a snowbank, if you catch my… drift!
The suspension is dryer than what you get in the regular Edge, and this is obvious pretty much as soon as you start driving. I think that’s also due in part to the low-profile tires, and of course to the ever-present hazards of Quebec’s pockmarked roads. In any event, as good as it is when cursing on the highway, the Edge ST bounces around a bit too much for my taste on smaller roads with potholes strewn about.
Choose Sport mode, meanwhile, and the shifting of the transmission gets a little more brusque. Don’t go into this with the expectation you’re going to get a marvel of a transmission like the dual-clutch jobs of the German models. To hit the gear-shifting sweet spot, you need to cheat a bit by using the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel – not really an ideal method, and it shouldn’t be necessary. Fortunately, the delays when downshifting are shorter.
Sport mode also has a direct effect on the musicality of the exhaust system, which drills more into the consciousness at higher RPMs. At highway cruising speed, however, the SUV quiets down again, fortunately.
The Ford Edge ST I got for this mid-winter test suffered from some unpleasant rubbing when braking, although it did diminish towards the end of the week I spent with it. The technicians who looked at the vehicle, which only had around 5,000 km on the odometer, found no obvious cause for the phenomenon.
ST badge, sure, but Ford quality issues persist
Ford products still suffer from perceptible faults in terms of the quality of assembly. Certain panels are imperfectly aligned, and I found some of the plastic elements in the cabin to be of so-so quality. Which of course is where you’re reminded of the crossover’s humbler beginnings; the ST badge doesn’t magically make existing issues disappear.
For example, I had to contend with a power hatchback that refused to close; to get it shut I had to do it manually. This also was checked by the manufacturer: the hatch was improperly aligned. Issues like this are not major, but in an SUV that lists for $55,000, it’s a little disappointing!
The last word
Speaking of that sticker price, the $55,000 question is whether the Ford Edge ST should be recognized as a genuine performance SUV. The answer is yes, even if there are nimbler options on the market. Keep in mind that this is Ford very first foray into the sport SUV domain. It’s entirely reasonable to expect that the company will tweak and refine its offering for the 2020 Explorer ST, which will come on a newer platform and benefit from a more muscular powertrain.
The 2019 Ford Edge ST is not perfect: it’s heavy to handle, its automatic transmission could use a dose of dynamism and the comfort level could be better. But put some pressure on the gas pedal and the V6 EcoBoost expresses itself loud and clear, reminding you why there are STs badges stuck on the front and back of the SUV. Points for effort, but the newby is not yet on a level where it’ll make me forget about Ford’s gone-but-not-forgotten little ST demons. Not-forgotten is right, in fact: I’ve just started shopping around to get my hands on a used Fiesta ST! It’s just a little lighter…