Throwback Review: The Oversized Smart Phone

2011 Ford Edge 9
2011 Ford Edge Limited AWD – All Photos by Randy Stern

A Victory & Reseda Throwback Review of the 2011 Ford Edge

Before I dive into what the title of this post means, I need to go back in time…

In 2007, I drove my first Ford Edge. It was a fresh face in a market transitioning away from body-on-frame, faux-rugged SUVs to crossovers. Built on the CD3 platform – the same one that spawned the Ford Fusion – one would think it would be an efficient five-passenger hauler with the ability to tow 3,500 pounds and the space to enjoy a family vacation in the woods.

Yet, I found the Edge to wear on me after several days and a few hundred miles. Though it drove solidly, there wasn’t much feedback from the car to ensure that I was driving something that could give me pleasure in my daily routine. Still, I appreciated what it could do – especially in the dead of winter – and how it does the job for families and others who own this popular crossover.

Still, 9,000 buyers per month couldn't be wrong – or, could they?

For 2011, Ford decided it was time to give their stubby baby crossover some rhinoplasty – and then some. Emphasize the "then some" on this new Edge.

2011 Ford Edge 3

The first thing that needs to be discussed is the biggest change in the Edge: The onslaught of gadgetry inside the vehicle. My 2011 Edge Limited sample was packed full of goodies. You might say it's an oversized smart phone. Once Ford found success with the SYNC infotainment system, they used the new Edge to expand the capabilities of the system and integrate it into a user-friendly interface. Hence my introduction to the new MyFord Touch system.

The MyFord Touch system, along with SYNC controls, climate control and audio controls, start at the huge screen in the middle of the center stack. Most functions are operated using the touch screen, while others are operated by a series of "light touch" switches below or another series of switches on the steering wheel. Some switches take some time to learn, but once you "get it," the system truly works well.

As with the Fusion Hybrid I drove earlier this year, two small video screens flank each side of the speedometer in the instrument panel. The left screen features all driving-related functions, including a series screens revealing the tachometer and the temperature gauge. There is also a screen with a fuel economy monitor. On the right are related to the center stack – including a repeating screen from the audio system.

2011 Ford Edge 6

Overall, the new dashboard accommodates the video screens and soft-touch switchgear nicely. The steering wheel has a nice, smallish diameter to work with, though I prefer a thicker rim for better grip. Seating was decent, as it was wrapped in leather. I found a good seating position that does not brush up against the roof or strains my thighs. The big drawback with the smallish foot well where there is not a proper footrest for my left foot. Having two other passengers help to know that with some adjustments, it can be a decent vehicle to take other folks around town or to the cabin.

There were some huge wins regarding utilizing the oversized smart phone inside the Edge. The SYNC system provided my most successful test with an automobile's Bluetooth system. I was able to successfully sync my Motorola Cliq with the SYNC’s Bluetooth and make a pretty lengthy phone call from the car’s hands-free system with ease.

Also, thanks to Sony, you can enjoy a fantastically ambient sound coming from its 12 speakers around the Edge's cabin. This is achieved by setting the DSP mode to “Surround” for optimal musical enjoyment. My favorite Sirius stations sounded brilliant in "Surround" mode.

2011 Ford Edge 2

Outside, you can tell that the new face was heavily influenced by the recently revised Fusion sedan. The Edge sports a monstrous chromed grille that, along with the short stance and overall height, provides the visual mash-up of a big bulldog and a charging rhinoceros. This is the kind of statement Ford wants to make by being bold in design in this market segment – and it works. It makes the crossover quite interesting to look at – if not frightening to stand in front of.

Under the hood was Ford's 3.5 liter V6 motor – a stump puller amongst North American V6s. Somehow, in the new Edge, it seems happier under the hood. This is attributed to a power bump to 285HP – which makes motivating the squat, somewhat hefty crossover a bit easier. The V6 was connected to a six-speed automatic gearbox transmitting power to all four wheels. It's truly not a bad driveline when you use it wisely.

Somehow, it appeared that Ford worked on the chassis while adding the smart phone and scary front end to the revised Edge. The ride seems softer than before, which is great for consumers looking for a comfortable ride. The consequence of softening the ride is the presence of some body roll when taking the curves. Turning the Edge seems a bit easier, not just because of the new steering wheel. Compared to the last Edge, the steering seems more responsive and tighter than before. As for stopping the car, the brake action is very responsive and assured.

Back in 2007, I was very disappointed with the fuel economy of the Edge. You can blame it on the winter and the frigid temperatures – which can play havoc on fuel economy regardless of vehicle. However, I was a bit relieved when I turned a loop of 17.9MPG in this new Edge. Still, that figure is discerning no matter how you slice it.

2011 Ford Edge 7

Yet, I pose a dilemma: If you love Fords – mainly Ford SUVs and crossovers – does the revised Edge provide a good choice amongst their offerings? It depends on what you want out of your vehicle. To break things down, here’s where I see the Ford lineup. I like the Escape because it’s a capable machine with towing up to 3,500 pounds from a FlexFuel 3.0 liter V6. I also like its poise transitioning from a small, traditional SUV into a calmer, gentler machine. How proven is it? Thirty-three percent more consumers purchase an Escape over the Edge every month.

The Flex is a good choice those looking for seven-passenger capacity. It is also based on the larger Taurus platform that gives it more stability, a longer wheelbase and a smoother ride. This is perhaps the reason why the upcoming 2011 Ford Explorer will be based on the same platform, but will be built more as a SUV on a unibody frame than a low-stance crossover such as the Flex.

The point to mentioning both the Flex and Escape is a simple fact: Both Ford vehicles garnered better fuel economy figures than the Edge – based on reviews on this blog (20.7 MPG for the Escape, 20.5 MPG for the Flex).

How can you quantify getting the Edge? MyFord Touch. Once you understand it, it simply works well. Sure, MyFord Touch will slowly permeate the brand – but to get onboard with the future, you start with the Edge.

If you overlook the mean front end, oversized bulldog-cum-rhinoceros stance and the learning curve in understanding MyFord Touch, then it has certainly improved as a mid-sized crossover for made just right for small families – or gadget geeks.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was rented by Victory & Reseda for the purpose of this review.

PRE-OWNED VEHICLE INFORMATION: Per a search on several car shopping sites, V&R found there were several 2011 Ford Edges available between $10,800 and $18,100. Mileage and condition vary, but most were found with over 75,000 miles on the odometer, the highest being over 124,000 miles. Always have any vehicle inspected before purchase.

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