For Ford Edge, smaller is better

The 2012 Ford Edge from the standpoint of engine performance and handling, does pretty well for a crossover.
The 2012 Ford Edge from the standpoint of engine performance and handling, does pretty well for a crossover.
Posted: June 25, 2012

If a car is available with either a four- or a six-cylinder engine, the six usually costs more, right? For example, the Toyota Camry four-banger starts at $22,055, while the V-6 model opens at $26,910.

But in the case of the 2012 Ford Edge, the traditional bigger engine/bigger price tag syndrome has been reversed. A 3.5-liter, 285-horsepower V-6 is the standard motivation in this midsize crossover. If you want the new 2-liter, 240-horse four-cylinder mill, that's a $995 option.

The reason smaller is more is that this freshly minted EcoBoost four is an extremely sophisticated engine. And sophistication begets complexity and complexity increases manufacturing expense.

That's the reason for the extra cost, but why should you bear that?

The answer is less PPP (petroleum purchase pain). The standard Edge V-6 has EPA mileage ratings of 19 city and 27 highway. The EcoBoost-equipped Edge I just tested has EPAs of 21 and 30.

The new four I found in the Edge SUV is the latest example of Ford's EcoBoost engine strategy, which is essentially the rather difficult business of providing better mileage without sacrificing performance.

The EcoBoost four gets its mileage benefits primarily from its modest size and its use of direct injection. The more efficient burning of the fuel/air charge permitted by this injection system improves mileage and performance. Power is further enhanced by a fairly high-boost turbocharger (16 psi).

The bottom line: an engine that provides acceleration almost equal to that engendered by the Edge's V-6, which has more horsepower but less torque.

From the standpoint of engine performance and handling, the Edge does pretty well for a crossover. It's not a sports car, but it affords some driving fun. Zero to 60 is accomplished in about 7? seconds, and it has enough stuff to get a sustained chirp from the tires when it comes off the line. Available only with front drive, the EcoBoost model evinces precious little in the way of torque steer or turbo lag. When you put the spurs to it, it really doesn't feel much like a turbocharged front-driver.

Like many of its crossover kin, the Edge looks a bit sportier than it is. Its styling is eye-catching, even dashing, with its aggressive grille opening and nifty rear spoiler perched above its raked hatch window. It was fitted with appealing 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels. The tester had a pearlescent finish, my favorite. (It is a $495 option because it requires an extra painting step).

The interior of the upmarket Limited proved stylish, roomy, quiet, and ergonomically sound. The instruments and controls were easy to read and use. The seats proved at once comfortable and supportive.

The interior design was interesting, particularly the juxtaposition of black and brown fabrics and leathers. There were, of course, the silver accents that seem to have become ubiquitous on new cars. Does a federal regulation mandate them?

But at least the metallic accents were attractive. You couldn't say that about the ersatz wood I found on the dashboard. I don't understand why they didn't employ the same honest and attractive chrome-trimmed black plastic employed on the console. Domestic automakers seem to be the worst offenders when it comes to using wood from the petrochemical tree. (OK, I've released all of my imitation-veneer venom. It's safe to send the kids back out to play.)

Unlike some midsize crossovers, the Edge doesn't have a third row of seats. What it does have is a roomy backseat with leg and head room made for tall passengers. It also boasts a generous rear cargo area.

The Edge is available with front-drive or all-wheel-drive.

Contact Al Haas at alhaasauto@aol.com.


2012 Ford Edge Ltd. (EcoBoost)

Base Price: $34,915.

As Tested: $39,405 (including shipping).

Standard Equipment: 3.5-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission; amenities include leather upholstery, hill start assist, rear camera and reverse sensing.

Options: Includes 2-liter EcoBoost engine.

Engine Performance: Quite adequate.

Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper.

The Ben Key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.

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