2019 Ford Edge First Drive Review: High Tech Wears A New Face

First Drive

Brains go a long way in today's world, but are they enough to get the Edge ahead in the segment?

There’s a certain set of patriotic Americans that go a step beyond hanging flags off their front porches and placing hats over their hearts at the beginning of every baseball game. Rather than slang stars and stripes, bald eagles, or any other sort of symbolic patriotic paraphernalia, they take a chunk of their retirement savings or section off a year of their youth to buy a camper or a cheap beater car and hit some of the 4.12 million miles of road that crisscross our 50 states.

Their aim isn’t to blindly follow a flag, it’s to learn about these lands so they may question skeptically and better acknowledge the hardships our ancestors went through. In colder wind chill-prone states, such as Utah when it’s overcome by a fall storm that flirts with putting the season’s first snow on the ground, those hardships can send one seeking the sort of comfort and warmth offered by the interior of a Ford Edge Titanium.

If that sounds like an oddly specific remedy to a very common problem, keep in mind that Ford put us in the predicament that called for this sort of solution. In order to exemplify just how serious it’s taking consumers’ SUV mania, the Blue Oval shipped us out to Park City, Utah so we could drive the facelifted 2019 Edge just as fall was gripping the nearby mountains and turning the leaves every color between neon yellow and stoplight red.

We found ourselves encountering vista points inexplicably prettier than the ones we had just pulled away from, and it became necessary to pull over and enjoy the scenery multiple times during the trek. Each time, the wind would envelop us in bone-chilling cold and after a few minutes outside, we’d have to scurry back into the cabin to enjoy Ford’s latest attempt to push its mid-size crossover into the foreground.

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This time around, all eyes are on Ford. If America’s most storied automaker is willing to kill off most of its sedan lineup in order to build more crossovers, the gamble had better be worth it. Knowing it had to put its best face forward, Ford gave the Edge a completely new look up front that relies mainly on the wide chrome-colored grille that comes flanked by a pair of thin LED headlights.

The chin portion of the front end is taken up by the air vents and fog lights, but moving one’s line of sight upwards reveals an indented hood that gives front seat occupants some eye candy to enjoy. Aside from the blacked-out section on the rear hatch that ties together the taillamps, the rest of the exterior—side silhouette and rear—looks similar to the pre-facelifted version.

The new grille does wonders for the Edge’s looks, but there’s more to this refresh than just a pretty face. Even though Ford kept the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine where it belongs, the new eight-speed automatic transmission unlocks five extra horsepower and brings the total up to 250 ponies and 280 lb-ft of torque. Depending on buyer needs, the Edge can be had with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive, the latter of which features a drive disconnect function that saves gas by disconnecting the rear axle’s supply of torque from the engine when only the front tires are needed.

The eight-speed itself shifts so seamlessly that one is tempted to replicate gear changes using the paddle shifters to make sure the transition actually happened. Unfortunately for the Edge, Ford put Lincoln’s interior decoration team to design the crossover’s shifter.

The result is a dial that sits in place of a standard gear selector and makes it easy to accidentally shift into Park from Drive when trying to pull off a hasty three-point turn. It’s important to note that the biggest improvement the Edge boasts can only be experienced from inside the cabin. That would be the amount of sophistication loaded onto this crossover—the arrays of buttons on the steering wheel and in aft of the shifter being the only dead giveaways to observing eyes.

Standard on all Edge trims is Ford’s Co-Pilot 360, a suite of driver aids that includes automatic high beams, a backup camera that can be sprayed with washer fluid from the driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane-keeping system, and a pre-collision assistant that can bring the Edge to a full stop if a driver ignores the warnings of an impending collision.

This is a feature many of us hear about but are reluctant to test out of fear that the given test vehicle will get an insurance claim along with a new facelift. Thankfully, Ford brought a large balloon resembling a car along for the drive and let us volley the Edge in its direction to learn just how effective the system is. As tempting as it sounds to engage in a game of bumper cars with real-life SUVs, we couldn’t get the automatic emergency braking to let us do so. Ford also showed off two safety features that are completely new to the brand. The first is post collision braking, which keeps the Edge from rolling into a lane of moving traffic after a wreck by holding the brakes once the vehicle has come to a stop after a crash.

And then there’s evasive steering, which significantly reduces the input needed to turn the steering wheel when the pre-collision system is signaling for the driver to brake, making it so less effort is required to point that large grille out of harm’s way. The latter of those two driver aids is optional, and so is the available intelligent cruise control system with full stop-and-go abilities. For the more distracted out there, it may be nice to know that a lane centering function accompanies the smart cruise control. This rendition of Ford’s lane centering system feels more accurate and asserts itself more than similar systems in past Fords as well as in premium competitors like BMW. It came in handy when the fall scenery peeled our eyes off the road and onto the yellowing aspens that dot Park City’s surroundings.

There wasn’t much to look at except for the scenery or the road ahead because the interior of the Edge is lacking in wow factor, even when fitted with the premium Titanium guise. For one reason or another, Ford seems to enjoy juxtaposition, adding technology so advanced and refined it could teach crossovers twice as expensive a lesson in modernity, but then countering that with cheap plastics, an aged cabin aesthetic, and buttons that feel loose when seated in the steering wheel or dashboard.

That’s not so much of a problem of the Edge SE, which starts off at $30,950 including destination. But move up to the Titanium trim we drove and get a wireless phone charger, leather seats, and a B & O sound system and its $39,545 price starts to look pricey. All-wheel drive can be added to any trim for an extra $1,995 while a panoramic roof like the one in our tester cost $1,595. Get liberal with the options on the Titanium trim and soon you’ll be looking at a bill in the neighborhood of $45,000.

It's at that point that the Edge begins to feel a little underwhelming. Yes, the Edge's technological prowess is formidable, but it's not the fact it has these features that gets it ahead. It's that fact that Ford deploys these functions in high varieties and with such high levels of reliability and intuitiveness that they could impress Steve Jobs if the designers cared a shred about the ergonomics and aesthetics of the interior's materials and button layout.

While Apple can get away with pushing the price of its flagship phones higher each year, the same model doesn't work in this industry. Especially on cars and do everything well but fail to excel. Of course, if you're just looking for a utile way of traversing America, either for the commute to work or to see the sights and enjoy the smells, it's hard to find too many faults in going for the Edge.

 Front Three-Quarter Left Side View
 Front Three-Quarter Left Side View
 Front Three-Quarter Left Side View
 Front Three-Quarter Left Side View
 Front Three-Quarter Left Side View
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