by Jared Rosenholtz
So you currently drive one of Ford's excellent ST-branded hatchbacks and it's time for you to trade it in on a new model. Great. You probably can't wait to see how Ford has improved the Fiesta and Focus in the new generation with nicer cabins, more power... wait, they aren't coming to the United States? What the heck Ford? In case you haven't heard, Ford has decided to kill off all of its non-SUV and truck models in the US aside from the Mustang, leaving the ST lineup completely baren and devoid of any new products (even though there are brand-new versions of the Fiesta ST and Focus ST over in Europe).
But don't worry, Ford has replacements at the ready with new additions like the Edge ST and Explorer ST. Yep, that's right, the turbocharged, manual transmission hatchbacks you've grown to love have been replaced... by SUVs. Ford sent us a 2019 Edge ST to test for a week so we could see if this new direction for the ST brand is on the right track. Spoiler alert: it's not.
The Ford Edge ST enters 2019 as an entirely new trim within the Edge line-up, replacing last year's Sport trim and bringing with it updated front and rear styling, a tweaked suspension to offer better responsiveness, and a few interior enhancements, as well as bragging rights as being Ford's first-ever Ford Performance utility vehicle. Crucially it gets a bump in power, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 now developing 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, up by 20 hp and 30 lb-ft over last year's Sport derivative. For 2019, an eight-speed automatic replaces the six-speed that was standard before, while numerous driver aids - blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and automatic braking - become stock inclusions, courtesy of the Ford Co-Pilot360 system.
The imposing yet handsome SUV body of the Ford Edge has been souped up for the ST trim, differentiated from the rest of the pack by its black-painted wide-mouth grille with ST badging. Prominent side skirts and dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets are unique to this model, while LED headlamps, a body-colored rear spoiler, and privacy glass are standard for the Edge range. Cruising in on 20-inch Bright-Machined aluminum wheels with gloss black-painted pockets, the Edge ST can also be optioned with 21-inch all-black rims for added badassery. The ST is also equipped with a Class II tow hitch receiver as standard.
At 188.8 inches in length, the Edge ST is longer than both the Audi SQ5 and it's Ford sibling, the Escape, by a good few inches. Sharing its dimensions with the rest of the Edge range, it stands 68.3 inches tall, measures 75.9 inches wide, and rides in on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. By far the heaviest trim in the lineup (mainly due to the weight of the engine), the ST clocks in at 4,477 pounds, while the entry-spec Edge SE's 3,959 lbs curb weight is already more than that of the Ford Escape. With a ground clearance of 8.2 inches, the Edge ST stands 0.2 inches taller than lesser models and indicates its potential for some mild off-roading. The additional ground clearance also yields increased approach and departure angles of 19.4/21 degrees.
While the regular Ford Edge offers up to ten color options, the ST gets its own palette of six select colors. Five of these are shared with the standard Edge line-up, including Agate Black, Magnetic, Ingot Silver, and two extra-cost colors, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat ($395) and White Platinum Metallic Tricoat ($595), but exclusive to the Edge ST is the unique Ford Performance Blue, shared with hallowed Ford Performance machinery like the Shelby GT350 and F-150 Raptor. Our tester was sent wearing the signature shade of Performance Blue, which is a must-have color option in our eyes.
Adding the ST appellation to any Ford vehicle implies that Ford Performance has had a hand in giving said model vastly improved performance, and this is what Ford had in mind when they announced the Edge ST as the first SUV from the Ford Performance team. The 2.7-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine under the hood is carried over from last year's Sport trim but has been dialed up in ST guise to produce 335 hp and 380 lb-ft. This means the ST variant now has 85 ponies over its lower-specced stablemates and in excess of 100 lb-ft more twist, which is sent to an all-wheel-drive system affording enough grip to hustle the porky SUV to sixty in under six seconds - impressive, to say the least. Equipped with a Class II tow hitch receiver, the Edge ST is capable of pulling along 3,500 lbs on any adventure, too.
The Edge ST makes use of a 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 making 335 hp and 380 lb-ft. Power is sent to all four corners by means of a standard eight-speed automatic transmission - shared with the rest of the Edge range - with paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. The drivetrain in the Edge ST is both its greatest strength and its greatest flaw. We adored the turbocharged V6, which provides freight train-like acceleration when you mash the accelerator.
But the eight-speed automatic lets it all down is spectacular fashion with slow upshifts and jerky downshifts. We aren't surprised Ford only offers an automatic on its mid-size SUV, but this eight-speed makes us yearn for the days when ST products could only be had with a manual. It's the gearing that irks us most. Second gear is so short, it almost feels like the car skips it altogether on hard acceleration, giving an unsettling CVT-like feel. Ford does include paddles for some shift-it-yourself fun, but the transmission is so unresponsive to downshift, it's best to leave it to its own devices.
On paper, the Edge ST should make up for its transmission's shortcomings by offering a fun driving experience. Sadly, this is not the case. The ST bodywork writes checks the Edge's aging platform can't cash. Anyone who has driven either a Fiesta ST or Focus ST will come away from the Edge ST with a frown on their face.
The steering is lifeless, offering no more engagement than a run-of-the-mill SUV. Ford has beefed up the suspension a bit, but the Edge still feels massive from behind the wheel and the tall ride height completely ruins any connection you might have felt with it. There is also a Sport Mode, which can be activated via the 'S' button on the rotating shifter. Sport mode sharpens the throttle response a bit but the most noticeable change is a loud, pumped-in engine sound that you will either love or hate.
ST-branded cars are meant to be the most enjoyable in the Ford lineup and sadly, the Edge ST falls short. You end up sacrificing a bit of ride comfort for straight-line acceleration, which is the only area the Edge ST feels impressive. So if you are the sort of person with children who enjoy a bit of acceleration in a straight line, perhaps the Edge ST could be the SUV for you.
Ford claims that the Edge ST can achieve EPA estimates of 19/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined, making it the least efficient Edge in the line-up. Fitted with an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the Edge ST can deliver around 388 miles of range before needing to top up. This is on par with offerings from the Audi team but lags behind other Ford SUVs like the Escape, and even other, lowlier Edge trims. While Ford recommends premium unleaded gasoline to achieve maximum performance, the engine can make do with regular gasoline as well.
Perhaps not as modern or contemporary as rivals from the more premium German stables, the Edge ST is nonetheless fitted with the best of the Edge range. Kitted out in Ebony leather with perforated inserts and silver stitching, some attention has been given to making the cabin look plush while enhancing it's aesthetic for a sportier impression. Seating space is generous for all passengers; heated, ten-way power-adjustable front seats are contoured and boast additional bolstering along with ST emblems, while the same emblems can be found on the steering wheel and scuff plates. Sitting high up, the driver is treated to great forward visibility, but less impressive blind-spots and an obstructed rearward view hamper the experience somewhat, thanks to large pillars. Still, with Ford's acclaimed Sync 3 infotainment setup with an eight-inch capacitive touchscreen, full smartphone integration, and a Bang & Olufsen Play sound system, the cabin is a pretty decent place to be.
Ford gives you sportier seats on the ST trim, which are more bolstered than what you'd get on a standard Edge. We happened to love the front chairs, which feel extremely soft and comfortable, but be sure to try before you buy. But even if you don't manage to nab one of the front seats, the rear still offers 40.6-inches of legroom, which trumps rivals like the Chevrolet Blazer and Nissan Murano, making the Edge among the most spacious SUVs in its class.
Along with more aggressively bolstered seats, the Edge ST also includes a unique combination of leather and suede material. Both materials provide a premium feel and the suede inserts on the seat centers feel more breathable than leather, allowing the ventilated seats to work well. Most of the Edge's cabin is filled with soft-touch materials, though there are some hard plastics on the dashboard. The Edge ST is among the most upmarket vehicles in Ford's lineup but you won't be mistaking it for a Lincoln.
39.2 cubic feet of cargo volume is available with all seats in the upright position - this is substantially more than what Audi's SQ5 has to offer at only 25.1 cubic feet. The space is impressive enough to accommodate a twin stroller, various small bags, and your weekly shopping, but for additional storage, it can be increased to 73.4 cubic feet with the 60/40-split back seats folded down. For added convenience, the liftgate is power-operated and can be optioned with a hands-free foot-activated feature, which is standard on the Edge Titanium.
For all your small items that need safekeeping, the Edge ST also has you covered. The center console has a two-tier bin and offers a deep cubby below the climate control panel. Two cupholders up front (with another six spread throughout the rest of the cabin), an overhead console, mid-sized door pockets, and slots for your cards are also thoughtful touches in the cabin.
As the range-topping trim, the Edge ST is fitted with everything the lineup has to offer, not the least of which are comfortable leather seats with perforated inserts, which - for the driver and front passenger - take the form of heated and ten-way power-adjustable bolstered bucket seats. Optional ventilation is also available for the front seats, with heating as an add-on for the outboard rear seats. Additionally, ambient lighting, perforated leather steering wheel (which can be optionally heated as well), four 12-volt powerpoints, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, a power liftgate, and power adjustments for the steering wheel.
As standard, the Edge ST is also outfitted with rear park sensors, cruise control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. For more luxury, buyers can option a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, wireless device charging, and front camera. In terms of driver aids, Ford gives you peace of mind with the standard inclusion of the Co-Pilot360 suite, which fits the Edge ST with automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, pre-collision warning, and a rearview camera.
Ford's Sync 3 infotainment hasn't changed drastically over the past few model years but it still offers the best hits of modern multimedia. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, as does Amazon Alexa integration. The touchscreen response doesn't feel as quick as some competitors but it isn't slow enough to be annoying either. Ford also offers some of the best voice command in the business if you don't feel like touching the screen.
On the downside, the Edge features an outdated instrument cluster, which splits the driving data and audio/phone information on two screens, mounted to the left and right of the tachometer. This results in some annoying fiddling with the steering wheel to find to display the right information and extremely small readouts depending on how you have the screens configured.
New for 2019, the Ford Edge ST and its lesser variants haven't been subjected to any recalls, although 2018 was marred by three recalls. For added peace of mind, though, Ford provides a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion and perforation coverage. Roadside assistance is also offered for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
For 2019, the Edge ST and its other Edge siblings received full marks from the NHTSA - five stars out of five were awarded overall. The IIHS followed suit and awarded a full house of top-ranking Good scores for all crash tests and Superior scores for both standard and optional collision avoidance systems. Only the headlights received a sub-par score of Poor.
The impressive list of standard safety features and driver aids on the Edge ST are echoed in the excellent safety ratings awarded to the range. The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite incorporates automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist with driver alert, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, and a rearview camera. Hill-start assist, eight airbags including dual front knee airbags, stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system are also fitted to the ST off the factory floor. If you want more than this, you can also spec on active park assist, split-view front camera, and adaptive LED headlamps as part of the Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package.
Depending on your outlook, the 2019 Edge ST is either a fine SUV or an affront to Ford's ST name. If you think of the ST as simply the most luxurious and quickest Edge in the lineup, it starts to make sense. We can imagine someone walking into the dealership shopping for an SUV and walking out with an Edge ST simply because it isn't too much more expensive than the less powerful Edge Titanium.
It is only when we compare the Edge ST to its ST forbearers when it all starts to fall apart. If you are currently a Fiesta ST or Focus ST owner and you want to keep your business within the Ford family, the Edge will be a bitter disappointment - just go with a new Mustang instead if you want more performance. It is so unlike either of the old ST cars, it makes us question why Ford didn't just take a break from the ST name until an all-new Edge was ready to go on sale. Perhaps if your family is growing and the Fiesta or Focus just isn't large enough, you might consider upgrading. Just be aware, the Edge ST feels more like a glorified Edge Sport, just ST-ish.
$42,355 is the starting MSRP of the 2019 Ford Edge ST. This excludes a $1,095 destination fee, a $645 acquisition fee, and any licensing, taxes or registration costs. This makes it the most expensive Edge in the lineup, surpassing the Titanium by nearly $4,000. Various packages can also be added on, and incentives may be available, depending on the dealership. Our tester was equipped with the ST Performance Brake Package for $2,695 and the Equipment Group 401A Package for $5,585, bringing the as-tested price up to $51,730.
The Edge ST is the range-topping trim in the 2019 Ford Edge range, being the culmination of all available features from the lower-spec models, but boasting a 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine as opposed to the standard 2.0-liter unit on the lower-level variants.
The ST is fitted with a range of model-specific updates including the fitment of a sport-tuned suspension, trim-specific styling, 20-inch alloy wheels, ten-way power-adjustable heated ST sports seats, and ST badging. As standard, it also boasts bi-LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power steering wheel adjustment, cruise control, a reverse camera, and an eight-inch touchscreen with Sync 3 and full smartphone integration and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen Play sound system. Ford's Co-Pilot 360 takes care of collision avoidance.
2.7-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Rather comprehensively specified in terms of powertrain, infotainment, safety features, and aesthetics, the Edge ST can also be equipped with a $5,585 401A package that installs voice-activated navigation, heated rear seats, park assist, a 180-degree front camera, and the benefits of the Co-Pilot360 Asist+ system. For $835 you can also add the Convenience Package for the hands-free liftgate, remote start system, universal garage door opener, and wireless charging pad. The Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ bundle can also be optioned on separately, to add adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and navigation with pinch-to-zoom function - it is priced at $795. A final noteworthy package is the $2,695 ST Performance Brake Package, which ups the standard wheel selection to a 21-inch Premium Gloss Black-painted set, adds front and rear vented disc brakes, red brake calipers, brushless radiator cooling fan, performance brake pads, and summer tires.
Since there is only one Edge ST trim, the only decision you will have to make is which options to select. We think the 401A Package adds a ton of useful features for its hefty price but we'd skip the ST Performance Brake Package, which adds larger tires, better brakes, and summer tires. The Edge ST isn't a great handler even with this package, so we'd skip it to save $2,695, bringing the price to under $50,000.
A $10,000 difference in price is what sets these two SUVs apart right at the outset, with the Audi naturally coming in as the more expensive, premium crossover. But the SQ5 offers a bit more grunt from under the hood, with its 3.0-liter engine producing 349 hp and 369 lb-ft - 14 hp more than the ST, but 11 lb-ft less torque. In terms of fuel economy, both vehicles offer 19 mpg in city driving conditions and 21 combined - but the Edge ST offers slightly better highway gas mileage. It's obvious that the huge price discrepancy comes at the cost of something plush, and in this case, it relates to the magnificent interior which the Audi is equipped with, as well as the comfortable, smooth, and seamless drive behind the four-ringed aristocrat. Although the SQ5 doesn't quite have the cargo space the Edge ST does, it's better put together, with classic Bavarian attention to detail both inside and out. Additionally, the SQ5 can tow almost 1,000 lbs more than the Edge ST can and it's quicker from 0-60 mph by more than half a second. While both vehicles have their strengths, both also have their place in the market - depending on what your budget is, you can opt for either and be quite happy. If you have the money to spend on the SQ5 though, it's clearly the better vehicle.
Think of the Escape as the Ford Edge's baby sister, with the ST denoting the added rebellion of a plucky sophomore big brother. The Escape is smaller - a petite little SUV measuring ten inches shorter in length, two inches shorter in height, and three-and-a-half inches narrower. Despite its diminutive size, the Escape still boasts 34 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and offers only fractionally less headroom. Some clever design skills also mean the Escape has a smidgeon more legroom in the front. As is expected of a kid sister, the Escape is much less powerful though - at least in base-model guise - making only 168 hp and 170 lb-ft from the 2.5-liter engine. The result of this is much-improved fuel economy, but also substantially less vigor. Opting for the Titanium trim makes the Escape a little more of a contender, adding a 245-hp engine, and some prettier interior features. Even fully-loaded in the most expensive configuration, the Ford Escape costs around $8,000 less than the Edge ST, but it feels cheaper, too. The Edge ST is the one to go for if you need the space, the size, and the sweet ST attitude.