We're actually hard pressed to call what Ford has done to the 2011 Ford Edge a simple refresh. Pick nearly any aspect of the popular mid-sized SUV and the Blue Oval's engineers probably tweaked, restyled or replaced it. Indeed, so far, it looks and sounds like an all-new edition.

Ford is offering three new powertrains and a revamped transmission to the Edge's SEL, Limited, and Sport lineup. Previously, customers could outfit their Edge with a grand total of one engine and transmission. Now, there's a base 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that's expected to deliver best-in-class mpg (though no figures have been released), some 15% better fuel economy than the Edge's current 3.5-liter six. A reworked 3.5-liter (285hp/253 lb-ft) puts out 20 more ponies versus the previous edition and is also said to be cleaner and more fuel efficient than anything preceding it.

The big brother of the mix is a 3.7-liter V-6, which cranks out a robust 305 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque (equal to the 2011 Mustang V-6) and is standard equipment on the Edge Sport. Also like the Mustang, both V-6 mills use Ford's TiVCT, or twin independent variable camshaft timing, for improved fuel economy and horsepower, as well as lower emissions. Power is routed through a recalibrated first-generation SelectShift six-speed automatic transmission, though the Edge Sport gets the same unit, but with steering wheel mounted paddles for more of an engaging drive. Slip the gearshift into manual mode and the ECU allows for quick shifts at the rev limit.

Peer closely at the new Ford Edge's exterior and you'll notice the slight, but distinguishable changes. Upgrades like slimmer headlights, a bolder front grille, fresh wheel designs, and a more pronounced chin spoiler create an overall clean and sophisticated look that's better aligned with its named competitors, the Lexus RX350, BMW X5, Audi Q5, Acura MDX, and Nissan Murano. The A-pillars match more seamlessly with the redesigned hood. At the rear, new taillights achieve a jewel-like appearance and are mated with four-inch chrome exhaust pipes. A blacked-out grille with matching smoked head and taillights -- plus some painted bodywork -- differentiate the Sport from other trims. Ford calls the design updates "more expressive" and "bolder". From what's been shown so far, we tend to agree.

The front lip spoiler was built with two functions in mind. Along with underbody shields, its secondary role is to aid in reducing interior noise levels by controlling passing air. Thicker rubber subframe mounts and a more robust windshield also help to mitigate the first generation's relatively high NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.

Half-inch wider 18-inch wheels come standard on the SEL and Limited (20-inchers are optional), while the hefty 22-inch rollers continue their tenure on the Edge Sport. Engineers retuned the suspension to a sportier, but no less comfortable level, courtesy of slightly stiffer springs, shocks, and stabilizer bars. Even the brake system got a substantial overhaul with steel pistons, larger rear rotors, revised brake booster, and quicker pedal ratios. The whole was designed for a robust brake feel and keen responsiveness especially when emergency stops are necessitated.

Designers carried on their refreshing inside with a waterfall-inspired multi-tiered center dash highlighted by chrome accents on its shifter and cup holders. Softer touch points - as first seen in the U.S. on the Mustang and Taurus - invite passengers, as do the new stitching patterns on all seats. The cabin's biggest attraction is the brand's recently debuted Sync MyTouch. It's included on the range-topping Limited and Sport editions and is comprised of three LCD screens that replace conventional instruments, center dash knobs, and buttons. Two 4.2-inch screens reside on either side of the steering wheel to display vital vehicle information and are controlled via steering wheel thumb controls. A main 8-inch screen acts as the media, climate control, and phone hub, allowing drivers to control key functions without taking their eyes off the road. All models get new materials along with improved fit and finish, Ford explains.

Product planners threw in a slew of other standard features. Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control all are making their way into the Edge's repertoire. Ford's Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, MyKey, and Easy Fuel Capless Fuel-Filler System follow a similar path onto the features list.

So far, so good, for this heavily thought out mid-cycle refresh. We'll have to see how the 2011 Edge stacks up against its competitors soon after its debut in the Windy City at the 2010 Chicago auto show.

Check back for live images and more details straight from Chicago as the 2011 Ford Edge makes its debut. Our First Drive is coming soon too, so stay tuned.


2011 Ford Edge
Base price $27,000 (est)
Drivetrain Front-engine, FWD/AWD
Engines 3.5L/285-hp/253-lb-ft DOHC V-6; 3.7L/305-hp/280-lb-ft DOHC V-6; 2.0L I-4
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curbweight 4082-4473 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 111.2 in
Length x width x height 184.2 x 76.0 x 67.0 in
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/r 40.0/39.3 in
Legroom, f/r 40.7/39.6 in
Shoulder room f/r 58.9/58.7 in
Cargo volume 32.2 cu ft

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