Sigh. Another crossover. Nearly every manufacturer makes at least a couple. So Ford did something that would have been unthinkable for the company just five years ago. They pushed the Edge away from the norm. The exterior sheet metal went from pedestrian to radical. The interior no longer looks like every other Ford model. This is what’s called risky innovation. The result is a love it or hate design — both inside in and out.
I drove the Sport model of the redesigned 2011 Ford Edge for just about a full week. My initial impressions were slightly tainted from a previous stint in the vehicle, so I kind of knew up front that I would enjoy the ride but hate the brand new MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system. Gradually though, the gigantic advantages of the MyFord Touch system overshadowed the laggy response and cluttered design.
Consumers generally like crossovers because how they feel. The Edge Sport should not be any different. Even though you’re up high like in an SUV, it still drives and rides like a solid car. There’s no swaying from side to side and the Edge can tackle sharp corners just like a full-size sedan without feeling like you’re going to roll. It’s perhaps the best crossover I’ve ever driven.
The 2011 Edge is loaded with tech and while I previously stated that I would buy it just for the MyFord Touch system, the vehicle’s driving characteristic will more than satisfy those not interested in navigation, syncing their phone over Bluetooth, or customizing their instrument cluster.
The 3.7L Duratech engine found in the Sport model provides more than enough juice to propel the Edge forward in a manner that will bring a smile to your face. It’s not a sports car, but it does try to be one. It’s heavy and while it handles just fine on corners, it’s also obvious that this is no Mustang.
However, it’s hard not to have fun in the Edge Sport. The seats grip you as tight as the rubber wrapping the 22-inch wheels hold on to the pavement. The large center analog speedo screams at you to find the speed limiter. And then you hit the gas and the six-speed transmission dances up and down between gears ever so gracefully. It’s at this point that you forget you’re in an wannabe SUV and enjoy the ride.
The Edge Sport makes quite a statement with the large grill and aggressive wheels but it’s the interior that people will remember. It’s as if the Ford designers transposed both the good and bad from today’s consumer electronics. There are three LCD screens, smooth to the touch inductive button pads, and super-glossy plastic everywhere.
It’s a bit overwhelming at first and maybe even a safety hazard. In-vehicle buttons should be something you can operate without looking. Drivers should be able to quickly adjust the climate and radio without taking their eyes off the road. The flush-mounted inductive-type buttons make that impossible in the Edge Sport.
Even a little tiny nub in the middle of the flush-mounted buttons would make all the difference in the world. That’s how the Volt does it. There would still be an unnecessary learning curve, but over time, the driver would learn where each button was located and the little nub would confirm they’re on the right function.
Thankfully there are secondary controls for nearly everything built-into the gauge cluster. This is where the MyFord Touch really shines.
Flanking both sides of the large analog speedometer are two LCD screens. The right one controls everything that’s also found in the center-mounted infotainment screen — media, climate, phone — while the left screen relates more to the vehicle’s status. Both screens have independent 4-way navigational pads on the steering wheel, making controlling them hassle-free.
Both sides are chocked full of options, leaving the driver with endless screens and looks. It’s wonderful. Eventually this will work its way down-market and hit more and more vehicles — as it should. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to customize their car how they want and LCDs are perfect for the job.
The other side of the MyFord Touch isn’t as rosy. It’s a bit rough around the edges, actually. The system is also tasked with the main infotainment in the middle of the dash and that’s a problem.
While the system is robust and full of functions, it just doesn’t work well. There’s a lot of lag. It takes a good second or two before the requested action is performed — even when selecting radio stations. The lag can be a bit frustrating at first, but over time, you just learn to slow down a bit.
If it wasn’t for the lag, MyFord Touch would easily be the best in-vehicle system at this price point. It’s that good. But even with the lag, it’s still great partly because of the amount of features.
The Edge nails two of the most important aspects of a passenger vehicle. It drives great and provides the occupants with industry leading technology. There’s really nothing else out there that even compares. The Range Rover Supercharged we drove a few weeks back had very similar systems with a full LCD as the gauge cluster and the same size LCD infotainment screen. But the systems used lack any the sheer depth and functions found on the 2011 Edge Sport.
The Edge might not be for everyone because of it’s bulk, but wagon and SUV shoppers need to include it on their test drive list.