All-new, revamped, restyled and advanced to ... what, exactly?
Sure there's been endless press about the Ford Edge, the ailing Blue Oval's effort to arrest its massive sales decline and build some kind of bridge to the future in terms of technology under the hood but perhaps more importantly its design underpinnings, in what should be Ford's bread and butter market, the family sector.
In 2009, for example, the Edge will be at the forefront of environmental protection, boasting a HySeries Drive, the world's first plug-in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle you can drive with an onboard fuel cell generator rumored to deliver 41mpg, which should put it finally on the same footing of its international rivals and a resurgent GM (Chrysler talks notwithstanding).
But for today, the Ford Edge I took out for a week or so is indeed all-new, revamped, restyled and, er, apart from the hyperbole, I'm not sure there's a whole here that can set Ford back on the road to market success.
It's big, part of Ford's efforts to develop a new range of family-sized vehicles that are not gas-guzzling SUVs or pick-ups. Kudos for realizing that sooner rather than later and having the guts to bring the design to the market after much wrangling in the products division. It'll seat five superbly comfortably and then some.
It's bold, with the new horizontal front grille that apes its stablemate Fusion - a splendid car that deserves much more respect (and sales) - and looks that keep it far from coming across as a modern-day stationwagon, minimizing its obvious bulk without becoming barrel or slab sided. It doesn't look bland or computer-generated and with those 18-inch rims looks suitably bad-boy without being unappealing to school-run moms. That imposing grille becomes vertical on the badge-engineered Lincoln MKX to fit in with the sister brand.
And it's a new direction, obviously Ford is tilting its rather large cap in Lexus' direction, aping its crossover RX range by becoming a lower-profile people-mover that drives like a sedan, on a chassis developed by Mazda for its 6 range, while keeping a high beltline and short wheel overhangs, pushing the wheels to the four corners.
Well, unfortunately, it doesn't drive like a sedan. It's way too heavy for that, and you can tell this as soon as you take the wheel. I'm not sure what Ford had in mind but I just don't see my 65-year-old mother being able to turn it lock to lock without a struggle (and my mom's a tough old bird) - which is key to the brigade that loves taking a two-ton vehicle to do the weekly shopping. The Edge for the record comes in at 4,282 pounds, or about the same as the Toyota Sienna people-mover we tested last week.
It also handles soft, not rubbery squidgy soft like those old Ford monsters, but certainly it's not sprung as tightly as some despite its McPherson struts, and nowhere near as tightly as I like. Then again, that sort of work costs good money and I'm not sure that would rank highly on my mom's list of must-haves on any vehicles. She would, however, love the high-up driving position and commanding view of the road.
So enough about mother, as the psychiatrist said to the beauty queen. Other things I do like about the car is its six-speed box that climbed smoothly through the gears and the hint of decent acceleration both from standing and at speed. There's a lot of torque (250Nms at 4,500rpm) and horsepower (250) available here from the 3.5-liter Duratec 24-valve V6 and it guns from 0-60 in under 8 seconds, all of which are impressive, or a good start at least.
Inside should really be better than it is. Yes there is leather and sat-nav and power seats and the like, but there's just nothing new here, and the switchgear is straight from the spare parts bin. Best feature is the open, glassy roof that lets in more than enough light for you to get upset when trying to watch the DVD player in the roomy split-fold rear seats. Disappointingly, most of the options are on the higher-end models.
Then again, when you consider the starting price of the base model at $27,000, the whole package starts to look a bit more attractive. And if you follow customer satisfaction ratings, the Edge tends to come in at just about 8 out of 10, with high ratings for its outstanding warranty.
Front-wheel drive models come in from $25,000-odd to a shade over $29,000, while all-wheel-drive versions price at just under $27,000 to $30,720. Fuel is decent at 18 and 25mpg town and freeway respectively.
So is Ford slightly farther from the edge than before? I'd say right now, until the much hyped eco-wonders materialize in 2009, it's merely on the hyperbole hyperbola.