There are concepts and then there are "concepts." This Ford Edge is the latter, as in a thinly veiled preview of the next-generation crossover. Aside from some slightly more stylized details and features than we're likely to see on the production model, the basic shape and styling is probably about 95 percent of the 2015 Ford Edge. What it represents is the first truly all-new redesign since the Edge was introduced in late 2006.
The smaller Escape is far and away the best-selling SUV for Ford, but the Edge has regional importance for Ford, selling especially well in the style and trend-conscious Southern California market. So it's no coincidence that Ford decided to drop the sheet on the Edge Concept at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show. What we see is recognizable as Ford's middleweight two-row crossover player, but with a sharper, more aggressive style.
The most noticeable change is up front where the grille gets a flattened hexagonal shape, and the headlights get the furrowed gaze shared by some other current Ford models, most notably the Fusion midsize sedan. The front may be vaguely familiar but fresh; out back is a whole new look for the Edge. The rake of the rear hatch is faster, and the taillight design goes from a more squarish design to sharper horizontal taillights that have a strong similarity to those, once again, on the Fusion. An intriguing styling detail on the concept, that may or may not make it to production is the horizontal LED strip that runs from each side of the tailgate, meeting on either side of the blue oval Ford logo.
There is also some influence, deliberate or not, to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, with the taillights bumping right up against the rear window glass. The cargo area side windows also get a slight up-kick to accentuate the rear-quarter styling of the vehicle, which includes a pronounced rear haunch that starts in the middle of the rear door and follows through to the taillights. The rear of the new Edge also shows some Lexus RX influence in the overall shape and style.
Dimensionally, the Edge Concept is slightly larger than the current production model, but just incrementally. Overall length is up 0.4 inch, width up 1.5 inches, the wheelbase is 0.9 inch longer, and the front and rear track are approximately a half-inch wider. The only measurement where the concept is smaller than the current model is height, a scant 0.10 inch lower.
Inside, the Edge Concept has a crisp, premium look, with a stitched dashboard and in an indication of future Ford interiors, some supplemental buttons on the center stack, a subtle acknowledgement that it might have gone too far with the buttonless version of MyFord Touch in some of its models. But the touchscreen is larger than ever, measuring a prominent 10 inches diagonally.
No specific engine details were given on the concept other than "next-generation EcoBoost," which could mean just about anything. Some have speculated that the next-generation Edge could drop its V-6 powerplants completely and go to an all I-4 EcoBoost engine lineup. If that's the case, the current 2.0-liter EcoBoost will probably carry over, possibly supplemented by the new 2.3-liter that just debuted in the Lincoln MKC. We also know Ford has some downsized EcoBoost V-6 engines under development, reportedly displacing between 2.7 and 2.9 liters. The Edge could get this engine, but considering Ford's aggressive engine downsizing on a global basis, the 1.0-liter I-3 EcoBoost being the most recent example, we wouldn't be surprised to see the new Edge go all four-pot. The current six speed could be replaced by an 8, 9 or even 10-speed automatic. We're not sure how far along any of those higher-ratio boxes are, so there's a chance it could launch with the six-speed and get a transmission upgrade down the road.
Parking Tech Preview
The big ooh-ahh feature on the Edge Concept is the fully assisted parking aid, which goes beyond today's parallel-park assist to enabling fully automated perpendicular parking. On the concept, at least, this includes being able to activate the feature from outside the car, meaning steering, brakes, and even shifting from drive to reverse would be totally automated. We have no doubt this feature will hit the showroom eventually, but not sure it will launch in the production 2015 Edge. There is a slightly better chance we'll see a version of the adaptive steering technology on the concept, which varies the ratio at lower speeds to make parking more convenient. Whether it is truly a "steer-by-wire" system like Infiniti's or a variable-ratio system like that pioneered by BMW is unknown. We're slightly leery of the ramifications this system could have on steering feel and road feedback, but recognize that for, most crossover buyers, the added convenience of the feature likely outweighs concerns about driving feel.
How Close to Production?
When will we see the actual 2015 Ford Edge? If the pattern stays consistent, look for the Edge to make an encore appearance at next year's Los Angeles show, with less one-off gingerbread and more production-ready hardware and equipment.