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2016 Ford Edge Test Drive Review
With its 2016 Edge Sport, Ford has a major homework assignment to complete before it can hope to compete with Audi.
For its larger family-oriented cars and crossovers, Ford is slowly fleshing out a “Sport” labeled sub-brand. The Explorer Sport came first, the Edge Sport arrived shortly thereafter, and the Fusion Sport debuts for 2017. All three look like they can provide performance, and thanks to standard twin-turbocharged V6 engines, they deliver.
Look and Feel9/ 10
Clearly speaking to my car-enthusiast heart while delivering upon my suburban-dad needs, the flawed but fun 2016 Ford Edge Sport is tailor-made for me, and for that I love it.
Since the Edge was redesigned for 2015, I’ve driven two of them, both Sport versions, both equipped with big 21-inch wheels and summer performance tires, and both powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. As a result, I have an overwhelmingly positive impression of this midsize 5-passenger crossover SUV.
However, take my effusive praise with a grain of salt.
Why’s that? I haven’t sampled the other versions of the Edge, the models most people buy most of the time. I’m sure the regular-strength Edge is just fine, but I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that Ford has improved all of them for the 2016 model year, swapping out the old MyFord Touch infotainment system for new Sync 3 technology. Also new for 2016: the Edge Sport gets standard all-wheel drive and a new adaptive steering system.
If the idea of twin-turbocharged acceleration bliss doesn’t appeal to you, or you simply don’t have more than 40 grand to drop on entertaining driving dynamics, don’t worry. The 2016 Ford Edge lineup is a broad one.
Prices start at $29,595 (including the $895 destination charge) for the Edge SE, equipped with front-wheel drive (FWD) and a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive (AWD) runs an extra $1,495, but otherwise the SE trims are offered with few options.
Moving up the trim ladder, the SEL and the Titanium pile on the extras and are available with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Sport sits at the top of the lineup with a base price of $41,295. Add every factory option to the Sport, and the price rises to $52,580.
That’s expensive, but still less than an Audi SQ5, a point that will become relevant as this review progresses.
My White Platinum Edge Sport test vehicle didn’t have every upgrade, most notably lacking the pricey panoramic glass sunroof and rear-seat entertainment system. It was, however, a well-equipped example tallying to $48,990.
The paint job ran $595 extra, so skip that. The larger 21-inch wheels with summer performance tires cost almost two grand, and while I think they’re worth the cost, keep in mind that replacement tires will run about $400 bucks. Each. Before tax, mounting, and balancing. That’s a serious commitment, but they sure make the Edge Sport look good and definitely contribute to its entertaining driving dynamics.
Appropriately edgy, this folded and creased crossover’s design is a departure from the original Edge model’s clean aesthetic, and I like it more as time passes. The Sport version’s dark-finish wheels and blacked-out grille signal that the people at FoMoCo headquarters have a measurable pulse, and I can’t help but smile at the promise of driving enjoyment conveyed by these details.
Available only in black, the Edge Sport’s cabin employs tastefully rendered accents to brighten what is otherwise a relentlessly dark interior. At the very least, it would be nice to be able to get contrast-color synthetic suede inserts for the seats, perhaps in Ford’s Ceramic (light gray) color.
Materials are of good quality, perhaps reflective of the fact that the same parts bin also feeds the Lincoln MKX, and Ford employs plenty of soft-touch materials with complementary textures and tones. As you examine quality in the rear passenger area and the cargo compartment, though, things cheapen considerably.
At the 2016 Edge Sport’s heart, a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine cranks out 315 horsepower at 4,750 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. That amounts to 35 more horsepower and 100 more pound-feet of torque than the Edge’s optional 3.5-liter V6, and the peak power is available at lower rpm, making it more accessible. Acceleration to 60 mph reportedly takes about 5.5 seconds.
Engineered for towing and hauling duty in the Ford F-150, this engine is quite satisfying, and Ford has done an excellent job of isolating noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Still, drivers can detect a rumbling note not unlike that of a V8 engine, and it provides a subtle soundtrack to the Edge Sport’s thrilling acceleration.
A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, featuring a Sport driving mode and paddle shifters. The gear selector feels solid and robust when used, but the paddles are somewhat ineffectual, because the drivetrain is so well isolated that it can be difficult to discern by ear or vibration when to stop downshifting or when to shift up.
Last year, the Edge Sport was offered with front-wheel drive (FWD). This year, Ford wisely makes its “intelligent” all-wheel-drive (AWD) system standard equipment for the Sport version. Engineered to continually adjust distribution of torque between the front and rear wheels, it is not a torque-vectoring system, which means that it is not as smart as it could be.
That’s okay, though, because the Audi SQ5’s Quattro AWD system is unavailable with the company’s torque-vectoring sport differential. (See, I told you the SQ5 would come into play.) Yet the Audi roars to 60 mph in just over 5 seconds flat, partially because of the Edge Sport’s horsepower deficit of 39 ponies.
Still, the two SUVs weigh about the same, and the Ford’s power and torque peaks arrive at lower revs, so it ought to be a little quicker than it is. Must be that the Audi’s 8-cog automatic transmission is geared to get the SQ5 off the line and down the road in more rapid fashion.
Audi’s performance-tuned SUV also takes to a twisty road with greater zeal than the broader-shouldered Ford does. Not that the Edge falls apart when you’re done accelerating in a straight line, but Ford has a major homework assignment to complete before it can hope to compete with Audi.
The Edge Sport’s brakes are terrible, and I’m not exaggerating. On testing day, temperatures were in the low 80s, and after a lengthy and spirited romp on mountain roads, I came around a bend to a Stop sign and an intersection, and I almost wound up in it rather than stopping before it.
Plus, I can’t stand how the brake pedal feels when I’m driving around town and in traffic. Like a light switch, the brakes are either on or off.
Upon initial pedal application, nothing much happens. Push just a little harder, and then, suddenly, the brakes engage with greater bite than anticipated. Despite putting more than 600 miles on this Edge Sport within a week’s time, while running errands on the last day before returning the SUV to Ford, my wife’s head kept nodding forward whenever I used the brakes, irritating both of us.
Still, in spite of this, I sure do love driving this SUV. Especially when it is endowed with giant wheels and extra-sticky, 265/40R21 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires, you can pitch the Edge Sport into corners and curves with abandon, the primary limitation being the under-bolstered front seats, which don’t hold a driver securely enough behind the steering wheel.
Steering feel is outstanding, the electric setup featuring pull-drift and torque steer compensation technologies. Ford’s new adaptive steering technology is instantly noticeable, reducing the amount of wheelwork for the driver and making the SUV even more fun to run down a canyon road. Keep in mind, though, that the oversized wheels create a larger turning radius.
Naturally, the Edge Sport sits on a sport-tuned suspension, which delivers a pleasantly taut ride and contributes to undeniably athletic handling. This tuning, combined with the steamroller 21-inch rubber, excellent steering, and powerful engine, made the Edge Sport an unmitigated blast to toss down Southern California’s fabled Mulholland Highway.
In fact, I had such a good time that I hooked a left on Pacific Coast Highway and also ran this SUV up narrower and kinkier Latigo Canyon Road. Here, the Edge Sport was less adept, its relatively wide body and somewhat large windshield pillars a liability in comparison to, say, the more compact Audi SQ5. This more difficult road is the one that really taxed the Edge Sport’s brakes, too.
A better match for this SUV’s talents, gorgeous Piuma Road revealed that in waning afternoon heat the Pirellis squealed around almost every corner, and that Ford needs to better attenuate vertical body motion following dips and rises in the road. A wider ribbon of blacktop with a good mix of tight turns, longer straights, and lumpy blacktop repairs, this road proved to be the best test of the SUV’s capabilities.
No, I did not take the Edge Sport off-roading. But I did track fuel economy and got 19.7 mpg over the course of the week, coming in just short of the EPA’s official estimate of 20 mpg in combined driving.
Granted, this figure included a round-trip visit to northern San Diego County, but I also stomped on the gas to enjoy the twin-turbo V6 engine’s thrust of acceleration and faintly guttural exhaust note at regular intervals, so I’m actually impressed with that result.
Form and Function9/ 10
In addition to being fun to look at and to drive, the Edge Sport supplies an impressive degree of utility.
My family of four fit with no trouble at all, and while the front seats aren’t terribly effective at helping occupants remain in place under high-g cornering exercises, they are fantastically comfortable. You sit in them rather than on them, and they supply a wide range of adjustment for a perfect position behind the steering wheel. Longer distances are covered without fatigue, and I like that the synthetic suede inserts don’t prevent seat heating and ventilation.
Taller adults might find that the Edge’s rear seat cushion is mounted too low, and heavier adults might decide that it is too soft to provide decent support, but everyone else will be comfortable riding in the back seat. Entry and exit are easy, and there is plenty of room for legs, feet, and heads.
Cargo capacity measures 39.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat, and the space is shaped to accommodate full-size suitcases while leaving extra space under the rear window for a compact folding stroller or duffel bags. A hands-free, power-operated rear liftgate is available for the Edge and came in handy when loading four bags of ice.
My test vehicle had a partitioned storage bin beneath the trunk floor and handy flip-out grocery-bag hooks that felt as though they would break before the warranty expired. I’d skip the optional cargo cover, which was more often in the way than not and didn’t have a clean appearance when installed.
Fold the 60/40-split folding rear seat, and the Edge holds 73.4 cubic feet of cargo. This figure, as well as its capacity behind the rear seat, is competitive for the segment.
Ford also supplies numerous storage bins, nooks, and trays inside the cabin, most of which feature rubber liners to impart an extra sense of quality. If you can’t find someplace to stash your stuff, you’re not looking hard enough.
Tech Level9/ 10
Thanks to a centered speedometer flanked by configurable displays, drivers can tailor the Edge’s instrumentation to specific preferences. Widely spaced climate and stereo controls also help to make driving the Edge easier, and the large stereo power and volume knob could be improved upon only if Ford paired it with a similar tuning knob.
For 2016, Ford installs its next-generation infotainment technology, called Sync 3, into the Edge. This represents a big upgrade over the MyFord Touch system in last year’s model and decisively brings the Edge up to technological speed.
Highlights of the new system include faster response to inputs, improved voice recognition, upgraded graphics, and a capacitive touch display screen supporting swipe and pinch-to-zoom functions. A row of primary menu buttons can be called up on the bottom of the display, but this function is not proximity sensing like what other car companies provide. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on what’s convenient to you.
Additional features include Siri Eyes Free, smartphone projection technology for Apple and Android devices, and the ability to send and receive audible text messages. Better yet, the Sync 3 system’s software can be updated via Wi-Fi, ensuring that it remains as advanced as possible over time.
All Edge models have standard Sync with AppLink, which includes a 911 Assist automatic collision notification system. This service is free as long as a smartphone is paired to the Edge’s standard Bluetooth connection, is aboard the vehicle at the time of the collision, and the driver has enabled the feature.
Overall, Ford’s new Sync 3 system works well, though I felt that the pinch-to-zoom and spread-to-expand navigation map functions occasionally operate too slowly for satisfaction. In these situations, I resorted to using the zoom and expand buttons.
Dual USB ports, an SD card drive, and an auxiliary audio input jack support Sync 3. My test vehicle also supplied rear-seat occupants with a 115-volt, 3-prong electrical outlet. A dual-screen headrest-mounted DVD entertainment system is an option for the Edge, and dealers offer tablet computer holders that clip onto the front headrests.
In addition to the 911 Assist automatic collision notification system, the Edge comes standard with MyKey programmable features designed to encourage safer driving habits in teenagers. They include vehicle-speed and stereo-volume warnings and limits, stereo deactivation if all passengers are not buckled up, and other settings.
My test vehicle also had the full slate of available driver-assistance technologies, ranging from forward camera and semi-autonomous parking systems to forward-collision warning and lane-keeping assist systems. Despite the Edge Sport’s impressive software-driven arsenal, it lacked the most important collision avoidance feature of all: automatic emergency braking.
Instead, the Edge has something called Brake Support, which prepares the brakes to deliver maximum braking capability when the driver responds to an alert from the forward-collision warning system. That’s not the same thing, and considering that studies have proven automatic emergency braking extremely effective at reducing collisions, Ford needs to install it ASAP.
Through the driver information system, Edge owners can configure sensitivity levels, alert types, and alert strengths for the SUV’s various safety technologies. With the various systems set to “normal,” both the lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning systems produced a handful of false alarms, depending on the situation. Furthermore, the lane-keeping assist system felt so unnatural that I just kept it turned off the majority of the time.
My test vehicle also had Ford’s optional inflatable seat belts, which are designed to add a little bit of extra cushioning in an accident. I like the idea, but their bulky latches did make it harder for my kids to buckle their belts.
Aside from my general disappointment in the braking system—both in terms of its performance and its lack of automatic emergency braking—it is the Edge’s lackluster crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that might prevent me from recommending this SUV. For a new design that just debuted last year, an Acceptable rating in the small overlap frontal impact collision test is really tough to understand.
In testing conducted by the federal government, the Edge earned 5-star ratings in all assessments, plus a 4-star rollover resistance rating. For a crossover SUV, this effectively represents a perfect performance.
Priced at nearly $49,000, my Edge Sport test vehicle doesn’t make a compelling case for value. But when you consider the cost associated with getting into an Audi SQ5 (or, for that matter, a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT), suddenly it seems like the Edge Sport is a genuine performance bargain, and especially at its base price.
Yes, the Audi is a “luxury” SUV, constructed using finer materials, and so it should cost more. And yes, the Audi is the more capable performance vehicle. At the same time, you can fully load the Ford and the window sticker still won’t match the Audi’s base price. Plus, Ford dealers are always making deals, so sizable discounts are usually available for the Edge.
Flawed but a helluva lot of fun, the 2016 Ford Edge Sport is everything that I want and everything that I need at this particular stage of my life. Effortlessly able to carry both kids and gear, yet a thrill to drive should the mood strike, this version of the Edge likely represents an excellent compromise in households where divergent values can make it hard to pick the perfect family vehicle.
Still, the Edge's less-than-perfect IIHS crash-test results and the substandard braking system represent good reasons to shop elsewhere.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s probably for the best. Something tells me I’d start getting speeding tickets if I owned one of these.
Christian Wardlaw has nearly two decades of experience reviewing cars, and has served in editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, Autobytel, and J.D. Power and Associates. Chris prefers to focus on the cars people actually buy rather than the cars about which people dream, and emphasizes the importance of fuel economy and safety as much as how much fun a car is to drive. Chris is married to an automotive journalist, is the father of four daughters, and lives in Southern California.
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