Ford's product success under Alan Mulally has been as much about keeping current models fresh as introducing new models. The company's "facelift" of the 2006 Fusion, a pretty good midsize car, expanded into what the business calls a "major-minor" mid-cycle change and captured our 2010 Car of the Year award. The 2010 Ford Mustang got new sheetmetal, tighter handling with the optional track package and a much improved interior, then got much-needed new V-8 and V-6 engines for 2011.

So Ford hopes to spread this magic to its burgeoning line of crossover/utility vehicles, both its substantially new Taurus-based Explorer (see the 2006-10 Freestyle/Taurus X) and its midsize, two-row Edge.

Big news is that the Edge will be the debut model for Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged gas direct-injection four-cylinder that's expected to make about 230 horsepower and rival the base four-cylinder Chevrolet Equinox for fuel economy. The EcoBoost won't be available in the new Edge until early next year, however, so we were limited to the '11 Edge's two V-6s for our first test.

Base engine remains the 3.5-liter V-6 with variable cam timing, again coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. With standard front-wheel-drive, our SEL model is rated 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway by the EPA. Fewer and fewer people, even in Northern states, are opting for all-wheel-drive in this type of crossover -- if you do, city and highway fuel economy drops by 1 mpg each. For '11, the 3.5's horsepower rises by 20 in the Edge, to 285, and it makes 253 pound-feet of torque.