It's missing the fun factor of its predecessors.
When Ford announced it was discontinuing all non-SUV models apart from the Mustang, we lamented the loss of fabulous hatchbacks like the Fiesta ST and Focus RS, which only managed to stick around in the US for a single model generation. In their place, the Ford Performance division will be sticking ST badges on SUV and crossover models like the Edge and Explorer. We recently had the chance to drive a 2019 Edge ST and based on our week-long impression, Ford is going to have a difficult time retaining ST customers.
That's because the Edge ST offers none of the spirit found in cars like the Fiesta ST. In fact, we currently own a 2017 Fiesta ST as a personal car and you'd have to pry it from our cold, dead hands before we ever traded it in on this new Edge. We aren't saying the Edge ST isn't an ok SUV but in several crucial ways, it falls flat as an ST product.
Unlike the all-new Explorer, which is based on a new rear-wheel-drive platform, the Edge ST is essentially a facelifted and rebadge Edge Sport, based on the existing second-generation Edge. This means the ST engineers had less freedom than they did with the Explorer because the Edge wasn't designed from the ground-up to be an ST.
It feels like Ford simply made some slight improvements to the Edge Sport, then the marketing team stepped in to decide it should now be called an ST. The second-generation Edge is entering its sixth year on the market, meaning an all-new model should be coming in the next year or two, at which point Ford will have more freedom to build a more engaging SUV.
We didn't expect the Edge ST to use a manual transmission like previous ST models, but its eight-speed automatic is by far the biggest letdown. Much like the Edge itself, the transmission isn't all-new, but rather the old six-speed automatic with two extra gears. Ford has included paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but the gear ratios are so close together it often feels like the transmission skips some of them while accelerating. This gives a CVT-like feel, which is the exact opposite of what you want in an ST product. We hope Ford decides to bring the Fiesta-based Puma ST (which should have a manual transmission) to the US when it is finally revealed next year.
Anyone who has ever driven a Fiesta ST knows it has some of the best steering feel of any front-wheel-drive car. When you mash the throttle, the wheel shimmies a bit as the front tires struggle for grip. It's a delightful experience. The Edge doesn't do this at all. You can get a Performance Brake Package with 21-inch wheels, ventilated disc brakes, and the same Pirelli P Zero tires sound on an EcoBoost Mustang with the Performance Package and these items help the Edge ST handle with a bit more poise. But it still feels massive and lacks the precision and giddy nature of its precessors.
While we weren't enamored with the Edge ST as a whole, Ford's 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 is a delight. It produces 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft, resulting in a 5.7-second 0-60 mph time. Power comes on strong (once the transmission picks the right gear), launching the Edge effortlessly in a straight line. There's just one issue - the ST isn't that much quicker than the old Edge Sport, which was only down 20 hp to the ST.
We think the Edge ST will mostly appeal to SUV customers who just want the most well-optioned model with a sportier appearance. These buyers won't even know what ST stands for and will instead pick it because of the massive power jump over the four-cylinder Edge. In this respect, the Edge ST at least looks the part with an aggressive front fascia, large wheels, a cool paint color, and plenty of ST badges. But as for existing ST owners, we can't see too many people trading up for the Edge ST unless their family has grown and the Fiesta or Focus isn't large enough anymore.