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First Drive of the 2019 Ford Edge: Luxurious, well-equipped and roomy

Park City, UT -- More an evolution than a revolution, the 2019 Ford Edge nevertheless comes to us as just the second all-new or heavily-refreshed model from the brand since the announcement came down that, the Mustang excepted, Ford will be ceasing production of its cars in favour of more CUVs and SUVs. Which, of course, means that vehicles like the Edge are going to have to work a little harder to keep former Ford car owners interested in the Blue Oval brand. They need to be good.

The outside
So, for 2019, Ford has added a little more class to the Edge in the form of a new grille and headlight treatment, new wheel choices and the existence of the ST performance model, which we’ll be taking a closer look at next week. The Titanium package also sees the addition of LED adaptive headlights and silver roof rails. The rear fascia, meanwhile, now gets twin exhaust openings. The cars you see here are equipped with the Titanium Elite package ($1,500), which provides 20” bright-machined aluminum wheels, body colour front and rear bumper and body-colour side cladding with chrome inserts.

Photo: D.Heyman

The mechanics
More than simply a styling change, however, the Edge has received a few tweaks under the skin to set it apart. Namely, there’s the addition of a new 8-speed transmission as standard on all models (SE: $35,999, SEL: $37,999/$39,999 FWD/AWD, Titanium AWD: $43,399, ST AWD: $49,099). It replaces last year’s ageing – well, aged – six-speed auto in an effort to increase fuel economy as well as improve performance. A 2.0L EcoBoost turbo four is standard, and other than the ST, all AWD Edges are available with an optional tow package ($600) and the ability to tow up to 1,588 kg. The ST gets the tow package as standard.

Also helping in the fuel economy sweepstakes is the addition of all-wheel drive disconnect; over a dozen sensors constantly monitor the strain the powertrain is under as well as how much grip is on-hand to see if AWD is needed, and can transfer up to 100% of power to either axle. There is no torque vectoring – power cannot be split between individual wheels – but Ford assured us at the launch that their research showed that a front/back split is what most Edge owners will make the most use of.

Photo: D.Heyman

The safety features
The other big addition for 2019 comes in the safety department, where Ford has made their Co-Pilot360 Protect tech available as standard on all trims. The safety suite includes lane keep assist with active steering, blind spot system, auto emergency braking with pre-collision braking, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, backup camera with lens cleaner and auto high-beam assist. Additional available features include evasive steer assist (if a slower moving vehicle is detected ahead, the Edge will try and steer around it if braking can’t do the job alone), voice-activated nav and adaptive cruise control with lane centering. That all comes as part of a $850 Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package on SEL, Titanium and ST models.

You can’t drive with no hands on the wheel, however, as you will be asked to cease and desist via a visual message in the gauge cluster. If you decide to ignore that, it will beep at you and finally, it will automatically apply the brakes and bring you to a stop, because at that point, the system figures you’ve become too incapacitated to keep going. I managed to find some open traffic-free road on which to sample the tech, and it works as advertised. The brakes aren’t just lightly brushed, either, but applied quite firmly to the point that if you have dozed off (hopefully that’s all that’s going on), you’ll wake up in short order.

Photo: D.Heyman

Equally impressive is the lane-keep assist system, which does a good job of keeping the Edge centred in your lane, even on curves. If you’d prefer to just leave it in “alert” mode – whereby your steering wheel vibrates should you deviate from your lane – you can set the intensity to three levels. It should be noted that you have to first activate cruise if you want the steer-assist to be active. Alert only if you don’t first activate cruise.

The drive
The rest of the 2019 Edge experience carries on as it has before; that is to say it does a good job of looking squat from the outside, is surprisingly roomy on the inside (a slightly tall driving position and the steering wheel being canted too far away from the driver are the extent of any comfort issues I experienced) and makes good use of the 250 hp, 280 lb-ft 2.0L EcoBoost turbo 4. It’s smooth, surprisingly quiet (I thought I was in the V6 at first), and helped along by the new 8-speed auto. Some may ask for slightly more aggressive gearchanges, but I doubt that will be a huge problem for most Titanium buyers.

My guess is they’ll be perfectly satisfied by the Edge’s ultra-smooth ride and quiet cabin; my drive partner and I had no problems carrying on a conversation at normal levels. There is a new Lincoln-ized version of the Edge called the Nautilus, but just as I did when I sampled the Expedition before I sampled its Navigator cousin, I wonder how much better the Nautilus could possibly feel than the Edge. It’s that good, the Ford, and when you factor in the 12-speaker B & O Play sound system (standard on Titanium and ST, optional on SEL) and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility on SEL and up, it just keeps getting better.

Photo: D.Heyman

Alexa
Want more? Well, in calendar year 2019, Alexa support is coming to the Edge, meaning you’ll be able to interact with your car just as you can the Alexa system in your house. You’ll be able to ask her to turn up the volume, change the climate and so on, making the Edge one of the more interactive vehicles in its segment.

That segment, of course, is not a huge one -- Ford lists the Nissan Murano as the main competition, with a select few buyers cross-shopping the Edge with the more expensive Jeep Grand Cherokee – but Ford has done well not to sit on its laurels. Even though the competition for the Edge may not be quite as heated as it is for, say, the Escape, they’ve upped the ante. It’s surprisingly luxurious, its well-equipped, it’s roomy and while I do wish the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 the ST gets – even a detuned version of it -- was at least optional on some of the other trims, it remains well worth a look.

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Photos:D.Heyman
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