Auto123 reviews the 2020 Ford Edge ST.
A little over a year ago, I clambered in behind the wheel of the very first ST-badged Ford crossover. The Edge lineup’s most-dynamic variant has since been joined in the Ford family by the mature and very powerful Explorer ST. Math being such a strong suit for me, that brings the number of ST versions in the Blue Oval stable in Canada to… two.
An isolated lemon?
Unfortunately, that first encounter with the Edge ST was not an unmitigated success, mainly because my tester suffered from assorted small assembly issues, this despite it only counting 5,000 km on the odometer. Might it have been the result of abuse on the part of one or more of my fellow journalists? An isolated lemon that made it off the assembly line at Ford’s Oakville plant?
Whatever the cause of those issues that prevented me from giving last year’s model an unalloyed positive appraisal, it sure put the pressure on the 2020 Edge ST I took possession of for a week of testing in the middle of the pandemic and of yet another of this summer’s heatwaves. What follows is my verdict after a second stint in this two-row ‘Made in Canada’ crossover.
Sporty as a cheetah, but gentle as a lamb
There’s little question the Ford Edge ST is the most dynamic version in the model lineup, and that goes beyond just its more-muscular look. With a 2.7L twin-turbo V6 good for 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque under the hood, the ST is no tortoise! What’s more, I admit I was seduced by the convincing roar of the 6-cylinder engine when driving in S (for Sport) mode.
The 8-speed automatic transmission works transparently and inoffensively when in Normal mode, but it gets edgier when its parameters are altered by switching to S mode. This I had noticed when driving the Edge ST last winter, but it’s hardly something to hold against it. If you want the impressive acceleration numbers the SUV is capable, you have to live with some rougher behaviour from the gearbox.
To optimize the handling of the two-row SUV, Ford Performance’s engineers also reworked the suspension a little, mainly via the introduction of unique shocks and larger anti-roll bars. As well, the disc brakes on the back wheels are larger, and its pads are designed to withstand more abuse. The vehicle rides on 21-inch wheels (20-inch wheels are also in the product offering) that do ramp up the level of road noise.
As I had noted last winter, once again it’s apparent the Ford Edge ST can get jumpy when the road surface is disordered. Still, even with all the modifications made for the ST version, the Ford Edge has not lost sight of its primary mission, which is of course to ferry around 4 or 5 occupants in relative comfort. Sporty it may be, but the ST still serves as an agreeable companion on longer road trips, thanks in part to the cushiony soft seats and a cabin that’s properly sound-insulated.
A speed merchant, but…
The engineers at Ford Performance did a laudable job tweaking and dressing up this crossover, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s aging. The other surety that no amount of smoke and mirrors can hide is the vehicle’s weight. Still, the Ford Edge ST is clearly faster than its regular sibling on straightaways; you can feel the work of the two turbochargers from within the cabin. With its 0-100 km/h acceleration time of around 6 seconds, it’s quite something to see this 2,000-kg mastodon move so lightly on its feet.
But while the Edge ST definitely behaves more nimbly thanks to the adjustments to the suspension and the wheels and the presence of the torque vectoring control, there is a limit to what can be done. If you, the driver, force the issue, you can sense the heavy hardware at the front weighing down on the front axle, which works mightily to maintain the vehicle’s trajectory. Unsurprisingly, the braking also is affected by the vehicle’s weight, in fact its performance is not on the level of a true (and lighter) performance SUV. While plenty good enough in daily driving, the steering could also be a trifle sportier to match the ST’s aggressive looks.
From all this, it’s quite obvious the Ford Edge ST is not going to compete with the likes of the Porsche Macan. It’s optimally designed for eating up kilometres on North American boulevards and highways, not for attacking lap times on the track.
That said, the ST treatment does make of this beast a bit more of a beauty. To wit, during my week I even earned myself a few thumbs-ups from Focus ST drivers, evidently happy to see the ST badging live on… even if it is on a pachyderm.