The Ford Edge

By Graeme Fletcher

 Ford pulled the wraps off its 2015 Edge in an auto show-like setting at the automaker's world head office. At the same time, it was being shown in Europe -- this will be the first time the Edge has been sold there, which makes the latest model truly global in nature. The current model units sold in China roll off the Oakville, Ont., assembly line beside the units destined for North America. In preparation for the new model, Ford invested $700 million to upgrade the assembly plant.The latest Edge is all-new from the rubber up. It will be offered in usual models (SE and SEL) along with the jazzed-up Sport and new top-of-the-line Titanium model. The latter is full-zoot all the way -- the display model had leather seating, a full-on navigation system and a panoramic moonroof along with a Sony sound system and an eight-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. It was impeccably attired with impressive fit and finish.In all cases, the Edge's look is crisper and it has better overall proportions than the outgoing model -- in some regards the faster look reminded me of the Range Rover Evoque. In the case of the Sport, it has a much bolder facade and the underpinnings to back up its bolder look and 21-inch wheels.

The new model now rides on a derivative of the Fusion platform. In this case, it means the Edge is 100-millimetres longer overall and the wheelbase has grown by 25-mm. This brings more interior space and an increase in cargo capacity (198 litres more behind the second row). More importantly, the new platform is 26% stiffer in bending and 16% better torsionally. This brings a much better base for the completely reworked suspension. The Edge adopts a multi-link design at both ends of the vehicle. Ford says the new set up brings better comfort and, more importantly, a more uniform tire contact patch over a broader range of driving conditions, which improves the handling.

The steering has also been changed to an electric-assist type. Of more significance is the new adaptive steering system found in the Sport. Ford's take on adaptive puts an electric motor between the steering wheel and the steering shaft. Rather than the driver physically turning the front wheels, it is the motor that determines the amount of movement based on driver's input. This gives it a variable ratio that brings better on-centre feel at speed and few turns lock-to-lock in a parking maneuver. It is a novel approach that can be likened to a steer-by-wire set up. In the event of a glitch the system automatically locks the steering wheel to the shaft, which brings normal steering with power assist.

The Edge will also be the first of Ford's products to launch with an all EcoBoost engine line up. All models except the Titanium and Sport arrive with a totally new 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine. It has a new block, higher comp ratio and redesigned head with larger exhaust valves. It also gets new fuel injectors and an active oil control system along with idle start/stop.

The bigger news is it now uses a twin-scroll turbocharger. The advantage is the twin scrolls keep the turbo's boost pressure uniform. One scroll gets its exhaust energy from cylinders two and three; one and four cylinders feed the other scroll. In simple terms, the twin scroll design delivers the advantages of two turbochargers in a single unit. While Ford said it will have at least 245 horsepower, better fuel economy and a 1,591-kilogram towing capacity.

As a side benefit, this engine can now be teamed with the available all-wheel-drive system (the outgoing 2.0L EcoBoost engine was not offered with AWD). This is a big deal because 75% of the Edges sold in Canada drive all four wheels. For those that want a traditional normally-aspirated engine, there will be a 3.5L V6 available as an option. The Sport and Titanium both use an equally new 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with twin turbochargers. It will put out a generous 300+ horsepower.

All engines will be teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The paddles are now active in drive -- the driver can downshift if the need arises, but when left alone for a short period the box reverts to it automatic operation. There is also a sport mode, where the paddles remain in the manual mode until the driver shifts back to drive.

Finally, the new Edge debuts a host of new technology. First, there is a new forward facing camera that gives a 180-degree view of area ahead. The neat part is that when the driver uses the washer/wiper to clean the windshield, a separate nozzle pops out and gives the camera a hose down to keep it clean as well.

The Edge also features a new glove box airbag. Yes, you read that right. When the situation dictates, the face of the glove box moves forward (powered by the airbag). The passenger's knees do hit the glove box's plastic face, but as the impact is cushioned by the airbag it is not as nasty as it sounds given the forces at play in a crash. Or that's what the engineers said. I am not willing to test the theory.

Another improvement is found in the "enhanced" Active Parking system -- it not only parallel parks, it can now park perpendicular to the curb between two cars and it features a new pull out system that gets the car out of the space. The demonstration was impressive. Many of these self-park systems require the driver to maintain a snail-like pace or the system shuts down -- Ford's system is Usain Bolt-like by comparison. It is new for the Edge and the first application in a Ford.

Other safety features include AdvanceTrac along with roll-stability control and curve control. The latter recognizes when the car is going into a corner too hot and backs out of the throttle and uses all four brakes to get the speed down in a controlled manner. It also features a brake-based torque vectoring system. Lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning will also be available.


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