For buyers of a certain age, let’s call them empty-nesters, midsize SUVs are attractive alternatives to staid sedans. Featuring roomy cabins, composed road manners and (usually) the inherent advantages of all-wheel drive, these two-row, five-passenger wagons seem mature, responsible vehicles that meet modern living. Head south to visit the grandkids; load up the SUV. Schedule a long weekend with another couple, a shopping trip, a tourist destination or a skiing adventure — pile the soft bags high under the liftgate.
Automakers have been paying attention to the demographics of buyers, and baby boomers — plus many other identity groups you may want to specify — are swiftly moving to crossovers, even the larger midsize units like this week’s Ford Edge Titanium, the third model in a family tree of four trim levels.
For a long time, one nameplate has dominated this category — Jeep’s top-selling Grand Cherokee. The Edge has been a perennial place-holder, while the Lexus RX series (that brand’s top-selling model) has been third, while Hyundai’s Santa Fe has created respectable sales numbers large enough to beat out Nissan’s Murano.
GM has jumped back into the midsize fray with this year’s revived Chevy Blazer, plus Honda ran the Pilot through the dryer a couple of extra times to create the new Passport. Toyota’s long-running 4Runner could be an option, yet its truck-based chassis performs much differently from the uni-body rivals listed here.
Ten inches shorter than the three-row Explorer (returning to its rear-drive heritage later this year) and 10 inches longer than the compact Escape, the Edge offers the handling and driving verve that the Explorer lacks, while the interior has generous spacing for five adults — space that the Escape lacks. With 69 inches of interior width, the cargo hold swallows multiple golf bags, plus overnight bags, extra shoes, picnic bags, gift packages, snacks, newspapers, extra coats and, well, you get the idea. With a power liftgate that a swinging leg can activate, the Edge made travel stress-free.
And travel the Edge did. North and south on the interstate, east-west across rural two-lanes, plus basic commuting, the Edge rolled through Maine for over 1,000 miles and visited the gas station four times, returning 26 mpg against an EPA mileage estimate of 21/28/23 mpg.
The Edge did not excel at any singular task, but there were no complaints about its behavior in the logbook after its visit either. In fact, it was a pleasant vehicle to spend time with. The doors wrap around deep along the threshold, covering each entry point so your entrance and exit is clean, convenient. The chair-like seating position puts your legs forward and your feet down so your back is properly supported for long drives. And the controls are efficient access points to command the vehicle, rather than frustrations that manage you.
Ford offers three powerplants in the Edge. Our Titanium model ($40,545 before options; front-drive Edge SE’s begin at $29,995) featured the 2.0-liter Ecoboost turbo-four, making 250 hp. A 2.7-liter 315-hp Ecoboost V-6 is next, while the top ST edition now packs a twin-turbo 2.7-liter Ecoboost swooshing out 335 eager horses. An eight-speed automatic backs each engine.
There are no driver selections for the AWD system, but you can alter the vehicle’s personality by engaging the “Sport” button on the console’s rotary shift control. A tachometer pops up in the digital instrument cluster just as the engine note, steering effort and shift points announce that the Edge is ready to drive with more enthusiasm. Certainly helped those two-lane passing maneuvers.
Titanium pieces further reflect the maturity of this former workhorse crossover, a package now worthy of mention against the Lexus RX. Heated and cooled leather seating with memory, panoramic sunroof, active park assist, remote starting, heated rear seats, plus voice activated navigation in the excellent Sync 3 panel are welcome additions to the plethora of driving safety aids available. Standard items include FordPass connect Wi-Fi hotspot, blind-spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, keyless access and ignition, pre-collision assist, lane-keeping alert and a rear-view camera with its own washer.
Ford has restyled the Edge’s exterior for this year; coming and going, the truck looks leaner, better. The Edge works well too. It fits many lifestyles, with space that proves valuable, plus accommodations that don’t overwhelm the price.
The Edge was a welcome summer guest. How many of your visitors can you say that about?