The Winner of This Year's "Polar Vortex" Is…

A Victory & Reseda Review of the 2019 Ford Edge ST

The television weather personalities were hyping this up. The “polar vortex.” Yeah, we dealt with that before, haven’t we?

But, they claim this was different. They scared us to death to forecast lows down to -29 degrees Fahrenheit (-33.8 degrees Celsius) in the Twin Cities. They said that we would experience wind chills down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45.5 degrees Celsius) and below. Some parts of Minnesota experienced wind chills down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit (-51.1 degrees Celsius) or colder.

Granted, I am a native of the San Fernando Valley back in California. I grew up with temperatures rarely dropping below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (+7.2 degrees Celsius). I lived through days of 100-plus degree Fahrenheit with first stage smog alerts hovering around the mountains that surrounded my birthplace.

And, yet, I survived this so-called “polar vortex.” You know what else survived this weather event?

The 2019 Ford Edge ST.

2019 Ford Edge ST

Yes, I know that these "polar vortex" conditions are not ideal for Ford Performance’s latest concoction. In theory, it could be. The Edge is Ford’s two-row not-too-big-not-too-small SUV based off of the CD4 platform. The Lincoln Nautilus is based off the same platform, even though it is a longer vehicle.

Before the makeover for 2019, you can get the ST's 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 in the Sport model. Ford was not satisfied with just a "sport" model. They brought in the Ford Performance team and turned it into the ST.

The first thing Ford Performance did was up the output on the EcoBoost V6 to 335 horsepower. They also worked on the exterior to align it with the outgoing Focus ST and RS. They also made available an optional Brake package, which includes 21-inch performance tires.

The result is an oversized Focus ST with a sprinkling of some of the RS’s madness. Except for a few things…

2019 Ford Edge ST

First of all, the EcoBoost V6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission via a rotary selector on the console with some paddles on the back of the steering wheel. It does have all-wheel drive, but it is not the same system as in the RS. My tester came with 20-inch two-tone wheels and Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 high performance all-season performance tires.

The interior offers a more aggressive seating package. The ST embossed seatbacks are one thing, the bolstering makes the difference. There is a ST badge on the steering wheel – and on the key fob. The cabin looks and feels the part – except for the instrument binnacle. I was hoping for two dials, instead of the single center dial with the two TFT screens on each side – just like in the other Edge models.

In other words, this Edge ST may seem ready for the “Polar Vortex.”

While I reviewed the mid-cycle refreshed 2019 Edge late last year, I welcomed the ST as a counterpoint to the four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost version in the Titanium Elite package. The Edge is quite a good SUV overall. But, I have the ST to work with here. The expectations are definitely high here.

2019 Ford Edge ST

There are two parts to this story. One, I must address the ST’s performance during our Antarctic end to the month of January. The other is to see what happens when the temperatures go back to “winter normal.”

The one thing I am grateful for is that the Edge ST and its EcoBoost V6 checked all the boxes during our “polar vortex.” It started up with only a few seconds of hesitation on the first turnover. After that, the engine started up like normal. It drove well with some light steering challenging the lane keeping system. It could be the surfaces on the highway, which looked quite deceptively dry. The Hankooks provided good grip, however. That’s always good news when you’re dealing with a mix of deceptive to sketchy road surfaces.

While I was navigating around slower, more cautious drivers, I can sense that the Edge ST wanted to play. When you press the throttle, the EcoBoost V6 spewed plenty of exhaust from the dual openings out back – a plume of frozen white clouds demonstrating its superiority.

When the temperatures began to rise above zero degrees Fahrenheit, the Edge ST sent a message to me: “When the air gets much warmer, I can show you why Ford Performance went to work on me.”

2019 Ford Edge ST

That was exactly what it did. The EcoBoost V6 responded quickly to the throttle unceremoniously. No drama, just solid pulling power. It is quick and potent – exactly what you need from a performance SUV.

You can heighten the experience by pressing the “S” button in the middle of the rotary shifter. Sport mode only gives you six speeds to paddle through. To ensure proper gear selection, you have to be on the paddles all the time. Do not expect quick shifts in Sport mode with any engagement from the paddles.

Traction was fine, but I had to question the choice of the 20-inch Hankooks. Granted, they were fine earlier in the week, but I was noticing a bit of a fight after the road surfaces began to take on a mix of melted ice and a new coating of some very slight precipitation. A discussion lead to whether something grippier would be better served for the Edge ST in climates such as Minnesota.

Yet, the ride quality has been very good. The Edge ST will hate potholes – some of which have showed up on Minnesota roads already. Yet, the suspension is neither soft nor firm. Although, I would love some control on dampening – and traction. Gee, doesn’t the Focus ST and RS have something like that?

2019 Ford Edge ST

Most importantly, the Edge ST is distinctive in its own way. A good car wash exposed some very key elements to this SUV.  The black mesh grille stands out as its calling card, while the lower body panels add to keep the Edge ST on task.

Average fuel economy? Glad you asked – it was better than I expected. The Edge ST averaged 21.6 MPG, which is surprising given the engine’s performance and the weather it had to endure.

One thing to keep in mind is the price. My tester came out to $49,430.  It is worth noting that there is one option that is missing, but worth noting. If you choose the $2,695 Brake Performance Package, you get the 21-inch black wheels shod with summer tires, larger rotors and calipers. If you have to use your Edge ST year-round in colder, snowier climates, stick with the 20-inch wheel/tire combination.

Further to the point, if you are doing a comparison to all other performance SUVs, this might be a good value proposition. The closest vehicle in terms of performance SUVs price-wise is the Dodge Durango R/T. Of course, that’s a larger, three-row SUV powered by a big V8 engine. There’s no comparison between the Edge ST and the Durango R/T…is there?

2019 Ford Edge ST

Overall, the Edge ST drives well, but anyone looking for that dramatics and hardcore experience found on the Focus RS will be disappointed. Nor will those who have Focus and Fiesta STs. This was not meant as a replacement for either car. The Edge ST is simply an exercise in what Ford Performance can do with a vehicle in a growing part of the market. If reality dictates an SUV, then this is just a starting whistle towards adding performance-oriented models to the segment.

Getting one through the extremes of the "polar vortex" may be a daunting challenge. The Ford Edge ST can do it. In fact, it just did.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by the Ford Motor Company

All Photos by Randy Stern

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