First Test: 2012 Ford Edge SEL EcoBoost
Edged out by the Escape?
With Ford offering so many crossovers under $35,000, it's easy to get confused about which one is right for you. That's part of the problem we have with the 2012 Ford Edge SEL EcoBoost. While the EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine performs decently in the midsize Edge, there are plenty of reasons wait for the upcoming 2013 Ford Escape that uses the same engine.
Ford's drive to increase the fuel efficiency of its crossovers by introducing powerful yet downsized engines is admirable, but in the Explorer, the engine was overwhelmed by the vehicle's weight, leading to sluggish acceleration and lower-than-expected real-world fuel economy. Eliminate the Explorer's 500 pounds of added heft over the Edge, and suddenly, an EcoBoosted midsize SUV stands a fighting chance.
Under the hood of the Edge EcoBoost, the 2.0-liter turbo four makes 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and is mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission in front-drive form, using regular gas. As you'd expect, the EcoBoosted Edge accelerates much more quickly than the Explorer, posting a 0-60 mph run of 7.7 seconds -- a 1.5-second improvement.
More significantly, the Edge EcoBoost is just 0.6 second behind a front-drive, non-Sport Edge V-6 we tested last year. Figure-eight performance between the two is similar: 28.0 seconds at 0.59 g in the 2012 Edge EcoBoost, and 27.9 seconds at 0.62 g in the 2011 Edge V-6 FWD. The Edge EcoBoost will reach the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 86.6 mph, slightly behind the Edge V-6 FWD's 15.7 seconds at 91.0 mph.
The Edge EcoBoost proves satisfactory in 45-65 mph passing acceleration. It took 4.0 seconds to reach 65 mph, three-tenths of a second behind the front-drive Edge V-6 but quicker than the all-wheel-drive Edge Sport (4.1 seconds) and the Explorer EcoBoost (5.2 seconds). Just as with the Explorer EcoBoost, the Edge EcoBoost has a minor torque steer issue. Launch aggressively from a stop and the Edge EcoBoost will torque steer briefly before falling into line. On more sedately paced journeys, drivers might completely forget the Edge is turbocharged, thanks to its linear throttle response.
"Altogether, I think its handling behavior at the limit is not sporty, but it's fun enough for the kind of vehicle it is," said testing director Kim Reynolds about the Edge EcoBoost's performance on our figure-eight course.
That sums up the Edge's backroad behavior as well. You never forget about the car's as-tested 4015-pound curb weight or the 59-percent front-biased weight distribution, but it performs acceptably. Those who want a cushier suspension might consider the Lincoln MKX, as the Edge was a bit on the firm side.
With either car, though, you'll have to get used to the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch interactivity system. Editor opinions on the system have been mixed, but the slim touch-sensitive buttons on the form-over-function slick center stack responded well most of the time. Ultimately, the buttons aren't a great replacement than far less sexy rotating knobs for functions like the temperature and radio tuning controls. We didn't experience any significant electronic bugs while the Edge was with us, except on one occasion when it briefly stopped responding to requests to turn off the screen-controlled heated seats and simultaneously decided to cycle through satellite radio stations. Overall, the MyFord Touch system (plus Sync voice commands) shows promise, and Ford has demonstrated that it's committed to keeping the system updated and bug-free.
Our problem? The same MyFord Touch potential and the Edge's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine can be found inside the redone 2013 Ford Escape. While Ford requires $995 to replace the Edge V-6's quickness with the EcoBoost I-4's EPA fuel efficiency, the 2013 Escape will offer the same 2.0-liter engine as a more straightforward top-of-the-line model in a package that's more than 300 pounds lighter. Continuing on this theme, both Ford crossovers have a 3500-pound towing capacity, and surprisingly, the smaller and less expensive Escape has 2.1 cubic feet more cargo space behind the second row seats, at 34.3 cubic feet.
As for fuel efficiency, the Edge EcoBoost achieved just south of 19 mpg in our care, reflecting a bias against city and congested highway driving. The official EPA ratings are 21/30 mpg city/highway, and the 2013 Escape's ratings with the same engine are bound to be a bit higher. Did we mention the shorter and narrower Escape will be easier to fit in a standard-sized garage, and offers the EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine with all-wheel drive?
The 2013 Escape over Edge EcoBoost argument isn't a total slam dunk, however. In 2011, Ford sold more than twice as many Escapes as Edges -- can you put a price on not seeing your car in the driveway of every sixth house? Then there's rear seat room. While we haven't sat inside a 2013 Escape, the Edge has 2.8 inches more rear seat legroom as well as more shoulder and hip room, plus the ability to recline the seatbacks and those cool, customizable gauge cluster screens. On the outside, the Edge has a chrome-filled smile you can't get on any other Ford SUV. That bold appeal contrasts with the more European design of the new Escape, which we hope has better rear sightlines than the Edge.
Ford is putting $2500 on the hood of every 2012 Edge in our area, which narrows the price disparity over the 2013 Escape. Depending on local incentives and your negotiating skills, considering the Escape (and sacrificing rear seat space) should still allow for options like a power panorama roof, HID headlights, or the hands-free liftgate feature. As tested, our 2012 Ford Edge SEL EcoBoost was respectably priced at $36,430 including destination, and came with leather seats, the aforementioned MyFord Touch, a rearview camera, navigation system, and a blind spot monitoring system.
The 2012 Ford Edge has been designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Edge an overall four-star score, out of a possible five stars.
Though it will be a little while yet before we get our hands the new Escape, the new compact crossover will no doubt present prospective Ford buyers with a tough decision once it hits the lots. Go with the high seating position and brash styling of the Ford Edge EcoBoost, or the more efficient, AWD-ready 2013 Escape with the same engine? Happy shopping.
|2012 Ford Edge SEL EcoBoost|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$36,430|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/240-hp/270-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4015 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||184.2 x 76.0 x 67.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.0 sec @ 86.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||122 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.79 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.0 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||21/30 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||160/112 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.80 lb/mile|