Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2007 Ford Edge - Previews

2007 Ford Edge2007 Ford Edge

For any number of reasons, the Edge is a hugely important vehicle for Ford. It’s the company’s first entry in the burgeoning crossover utility vehicle (CUV) market, an area that has assumed more importance lately because of volatile gas prices. Ford needs a sales home run, because—with the exception of the revamped Mustang—its recent offerings have hardly been selling like crazy. The Fusion may be doing relatively well, but the Fusion, Five Hundred, and Freestyle together muster fewer sales than the Taurus managed on its own in the past. We also get the sense that Ford management feels that the Edge is the vehicle to prove that they can compete with the foreign automakers who have been stealing market share from the domestic producers.

The big news is that the Edge is one of the first recipients—along with the Lincoln MKZ—of the new corporate 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Although this shares its basic, dual-overhead-camshaft V-6 layout with the anemic 3.0-liter fitted to the Fusion, Freestyle, and Five Hundred, this is effectively a new engine, with the potential for capacity increases in the future. Displacing 3496cc, the V-6 makes 265 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission that’s a joint design between General Motors and Ford. Strangely, this transmission doesn’t feature manumatic shifting. Edges can be ordered in two- and all-wheel-drive form.

The Edge features unibody construction rather than a traditional SUV’s body-on-frame arrangement, which should endow it with a more rigid structure and theoretically give it better handling and ride. Essentially, the Edge is based on Mazda 6 architecture. Up front, it uses a MacPherson strut suspension, with lower control arms each side and an anti-roll bar. At the back, there is a multi-link arrangement with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The Edge has power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and all-around anti-lock disc brakes. All models come with seventeen-inch aluminum wheels, but SEL and SEL Plus variants are available with two types of eighteen-inch wheels, one of them in a garish chrome finish.

Ford is making great play about all the Edge’s standard safety features. Stability control is standard (Ford calls it AdvanceTrac), as are dual-stage driver and passenger front airbags; seat-mounted front side airbags; and side curtain airbags that have rollover detection.

The Edge is only available with five seats. Ford says this isn’t a problem because its Explorer and Freestyle, as well as the upcoming Fairlane, have three rows with seven-passenger capability. We’ll see: the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot, two of the Edges’s closest rivals, are available with three rows of seating. The Edge interior is certainly spacious, with 40.7 inches of front legroom and 38.1 inches in back. Without the enormous optional moonroof that Ford insiders call the BAMer (for Big Ass Moonroof), there is 40.0 inches of front and 39.3 inches of rear headroom. The front seats are perfectly adapted to oversize adults, but the rear pews suffer from cushions that are low to the ground—fine for little ‘uns who will normally occupy this row, but not so good for grown ups. The rear seat backs recline, however, which is a nice touch.

The materials and fit-and-finish are pretty nice, and there is a ton of stowage space for those buyers who have an active lifestyle. Either that, or they swig a lot of coffee and soda. There are no fewer than six cupholders dotted around the cabin, including juice box holders in the rear door pockets, and a monstrous center console that will easily swallow a laptop or the largest handbag we could imagine. For families who need auxiliary power, there are four power points and an MP3 audio jack.

When it comes to real utility, the Edge has commodious cargo space, with 32 cubic feet available behind the rear seats. With the 60/40 rear bench folded flat—and, thanks to cushions that slide forward, it provides a truly horizontal load surface—there are 69 cubic feet of room. The seats can be folded manually or via an available power mechanism. An optional folding front passenger seat enables the Edge to carry items up to eight feet long.

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