Ford’s First Attempt at a Performance SUV Is a Solid Effort
We tear up the streets of Park City with Ford’s first performance crossover.
For a car to wear a ST badge from Ford’s in-house tuning division, it must meet a set of performance criteria. Ford Performance sets this criteria, and it means that a vehicle carrying the badge is a top-self machine and not just something with a Sport badge slapped on it. For 2019, Ford is putting a ST badge on the refreshed Edge crossover. That’s heresy, right? We went to Utah to find out.
The 2019 Edge ST is powered by a 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 making 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. That’s mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system with a rear-axle disconnect for fuel economy. When needed, it shuffles power to either the front or the rear for performance.
Bigger wheels and tires are part of the ST upgrade, with an upgrade on top of that for performance Brembo brakes and 21-inch wheels and summer tires. Inside, there’s ST appointments and special ST seats which are grippier than the stock seats, but not as aggressive as the seats in the Mustang with the Recaros. Also unlike the Recaros in the Mustang, these seats are heated and cooled.
This is Ford’s first attempt at a performance SUV, and it’s a pretty solid effort. The steering is spot on, even if it lacks feel, and turn in is quick. In the switchbacks up and around Park City’s ski resorts, it felt like I was driving a high-riding sports car rather than a SUV.
Engine power is great, as you’d expect from over 300 horsepower, but a bit of turbo lag was noticeable. Left to its own devices, the transmission in sport mode would shift when you expected it to and had solid logic for downshifts. Even so, we’re not in love with the transmission.
While the shifts are smooth in normal mode, they don’t become more aggressive in sport mode. Competitors have faster-shifting boxes. Additionally, the paddle shifters have a delay between pulling the paddle and the ST executing the gear change.
While certainly not deal breakers, we’d suggest leaving the transmission shifting to the Edge. Most drivers likely will.
Ford says it benchmarked cars like the Porsche Macan S when developing the Edge ST. They didn’t have one on hand to compare with, but it’s not hard to see that they put a lot of effort into the driving dynamics. Not only is the ST predictable, especially with the spot-on steering, but it’s going to be quicker to hustle down a back road than anything else in this class. Ford says you need to spend a lot more to get similar performance from a premium brand, and they’re not wrong.
As a performance machine, there really isn’t anything like it for this money with this type of utility. Sure, hot hatches like the Ford Focus RS bring on more performance, but don’t have the interior space that a vehicle like the Edge ST has.
As a daily driver, the car is solid. On board the Edge ST is Ford’s CoPilot 360, which is what it calls its suite of driver’s assist features. This includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, an around-view camera system, auto-steering lane assist and adaptive cruise control will full stop and go, and also autonomous emergency braking. While not a full self-driving suite, the hands-on system helps reduce stress and fatigue on long drives and is a nice companion in stop-and-go traffic.
The 2019 Ford Edge ST’s initial impressions are positive. We’d like to see the transmission software further enhanced before it goes on sale, but even as it sits its a performance crossover deal. And unlike a lot of inexpensive performance bargains, very few sacrifices are actually made. The Edge’s interior is modern and comfortable, the exterior looks advanced but not shouty, and the tech on board will keep you entertained and safe.
Will it draw buyers away from premium brands? Probably not. But for those who want premium brand performance but don’t want to spend the cash, the Edge ST is a winner.