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Ford attempts to get the "Edge" in CUV category

October 27, 2006|by MALCOLM GUNN / Wheelbase Communications

Ford stands ready to take a strong position in the fast-paced and fast-growing tall wagon category with its all-new Edge.

Members in this club are commonly referred to in the industry as crossover utility vehicles (CUVs), since they generally combine the look and overall driveability of a passenger car with the usefulness of a sport-utility vehicle and/or minivan. Ford's own projections indicate that CUV sales will surpass traditional sport-utes by the end of 2006. A big reason for their popularity is that they offer all-wheel-drive systems as either standard or optional equipment. That makes automobiles such as the Edge must-have products in every manufacturer's lineup.

The five-passenger Edge is loosely based on the new-last-year Fusion sedan, but the similarities are few and far between. For example, the Edge's blunt-force front-end styling is - how would you describe it - edgy, to say the least. The gleaming three-bar chrome grille looks as though it belongs on one of Ford's stump-pulling F-250 Super Duty pickups and not on a vehicle designed for picking up the groceries or the kids from school. As well, the steeply raked windshield and wide stance with the wheels pushed out to the extreme edges (there's that word again) of the fenders convey a solid, yet decidedly sporty appearance. It's the kind of shape that might make anyone think twice about acquiring a minivan or off-roader for their personal transportation unless they needed to carry lots of people or frequently travel well off the beaten interstate.

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On the inside, the Edge designers placed considerable emphasis on convenience. The dashboard is attractively laid out, and there are more than enough cupholders to hold everyone's favorite thirst-quencher. Between the front buckets is a fully adjustable floor console that, with the dividers removed, is capable of swallowing a laptop computer. Even the inside of the console has been carefully thought out, with a power socket as well as built-in holders for paper clips, pens and slots for storing your cell phone and computer wiring.

When maximum cargo space is required, the 60/40 split-row rear seat folds flat to create a level load floor. This can be manually accomplished with an easy-to-use one-handed release lever, or automatically with the optional power-operated release button/mechanism.

Giving the Edge its oomph is a 265-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. Ford says the optional all-wheel-drive system will actually begin transferring torque to the wheels with grip, from the wheels that slip, before they begin to slip.

The Edge is available in highly equipped SE and SEL models that include the latest and greatest safety features. There are six air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control to keep the Edge pointing exactly where the driver intends to go. As well, all models receive the usual grouping of power features as well as air conditioning. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard on all models while 18-inchers are optional on the up-level SEL.

Among other niceties, the SEL adds fog lamps, six-way power driver's seat, overhead console and a better sound system with redundant audio controls on the steering wheel. There's a lengthy option list of features - most of which are only available when you step up to the SEL - that includes leather seats, DVD-based satellite navigation, DVD entertainment system with drop-down 8-inch screen and a two-panel "panoramic vista" sunroof that provides natural light to occupants in both rows of seats.

It's hard to resist tossing out the puns to describe Ford's new CUV, but this multi-functional, ruggedly styled wagon should give the company a definite "edge" in a class that will be a hotbed of activity in the coming months.

Copyright 2006, Wheelbase Communications

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