What matters the most is how the ST drives, and that’s where I am really on the fence.
Ford’s ST moniker, which stands for Sport Technologies, has earned a loyal enthusiast following and carved out a successful niche in the market for driver’s seeking more performance out of their practical daily drivers. The Focus and Fiesta ST offer significant performance improvements, which come with some compromises on comfort, but still retain all of their utility as hatchbacks. The formula works fantastically, and the Fiesta ST remains one of the most fun vehicles I’ve driven over the years.
With Ford’s decision to move away from cars and focus almost exclusively on CUVs, SUVs and trucks, the fate of the Focus and Fiesta ST appears sealed. The ST tradition will carry on, first in 2019 on the Edge, and later on the Ford Explorer for 2020. Anxious to see how this would play out, I got into a 2019 Ford Edge ST as soon as I could to see how well the platform handles the ST treatment.
On the outside it’s a bit tricky to distinguish the Edge ST from a regular Edge, but it does get a unique front and rear facia with larger front grille, large chrome dual exhaust outlets and prominent ST badging. Our tester came in a bright Ruby Red and sporting the optional 21” gloss black wheels over the standard 20 setup that comes with the ST. Despite its performance orientation the Edge doesn’t scream performance on the outside, great if you’re trying to keep a low profile and blend in.
Inside, the Edge ST very closely resembles the standard Edge as well. There is a nice “Ford Performance” embellished threshold plate that you’ll step over to get into the driver’s seat. The seats themselves are the single most unique interior feature of the ST package. They are trimmed in soft leather with Miko cloth inserts to help keep everyone well planted when the driving gets spirited. The fronts are also heavily bolstered, but remain fantastically comfortable. The interior in the ST can only be had in black, but does get a nice black cloth headliner and the panoramic glass sunroof really helps to brighten things up.
Aside from the nice seats, and some badging, the rest of the interior is standard Edge, which isn’t a terrible thing. The Edge does offer up lots of practically inside with a well designed center console for lots of storage, enough head and legroom for three adults in the second row, and a relatively large cargo area even with the second row in place. Folding the split rear bench makes the space that much more versatile for hauling bulky items, something crossovers like this really excel at and the ST is no exception. The dash itself and other areas such as the door panels do use a lot of cheap feeling black plastic, and the dash is so expansive that those low-rent looking materials do stand out quite a bit.
On a positive note though, the gauge cluster is great with two LED screens flanking a real analog speedometer. The Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system looks slick, runs well and is easy to navigate. My only major complaint is that the control for the heated steering wheel is located in a submenu within the climate page, meaning it takes a series of touches to toggle the heat on/off and get back to your previous view. The touchscreen also controls the excellent Bang & Olufsen 12 speaker sound system, standard on the ST.
What really matters the most though is how the Edge ST drives, and that’s where I am really on the fence. It’s powered by Ford’s 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 which cranks out 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for when you feel the need to intervene. Generally it’s a pretty sweet little powerhouse that rockets the Edge ST to 100km/h in under six seconds. Hard acceleration from a stop can feel just a little bit laggy as the turbo gets going, but once it hits its stride the Edge really does pull. Putting the Edge ST in “Sport” mode sharpens the throttle response and alters the transmission programming to hold gears longer. It also enhances engine sound and the automatic will rev-match downshifts, which is a bit silly, but you could always shift manually with the steering wheel paddles.
I was however a bit disappointed with the sounds the Edge ST makes. The Fiesta and Focus ST variants really sound aggressive in Sport mode with their burbling and crackling exhausts. The Edge ST boasts big shiny exhaust tips, and it does sound different than a normal Edge. In fact, it sounds a bit like an old GM 3800 V6, but it doesn’t sound particularly sporty or aggressive – which is what I was hoping for.
Mechanically the ST does get more than just an engine upgrade though. The spring are stiffer than the standard Edge, the anti-sway bars are larger, and monotube shocks are installed in the back. The result is a much firmer ride, better control while cornering and heavier steering. Despite this, the steering is still too vague to really be engaging to drive. The Edge has the power it needs to really deliver on it’s performance promise, but from behind the wheel it’s just not quite sharp enough to really feel like a true performance vehicle – an area where the Focus and Fiesta ST really shine.
I did not have the highest of hopes for the fuel consumption from an ST-badged AWD crossover, but the Edge ST pleasantly surprised me with an average of 10.6L/100km after a week worth of rush hour commuting and a decent amount of remote starter usage. Apparently, the Edge ST will run fine on regular grade fuel, but to unlock the full 335 horsepower premium fuel is highly recommended by Ford and that’s what our test took place on.
As a workhorse, the Edge ST hasn’t forgotten its purpose, so in addition to the people and cargo hauling space it’ll also tow up to 3,500 pounds with the standard towing package. It also includes electronic sway control. All Edge STs also come with Ford’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which proved itself very useful during this very icy week of commuting.
Pricing on the Edge ST is right around where we would’ve pegged it. For context, a top-line Edge Titanium would start at $41,999. The ST adds $5,700 to that, starting at $47,699 – a fairly aggressive price. The ST does come very well equipped, but the 401A package at a pricey $5,800 adds a lot of the good stuff like Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Driving Assist system which includes adaptive cruise control, advanced active parking assist, evasive steering assist, and a front 180-degree camera. The package also adds the panoramic roof, cooled front seats (heat is standard), heated rear seats, voice activated navigation and remote start. This package, plus the $950 wheel upgrade and $450 for the Ruby Red paint put our as tested price at $54,899. Not quite as appealing as the entry price, but you do get a well equipped crossover that still undercuts others with comparable performance.
Overall, the Edge ST definitely brings more performance to the table than anything else in the segment, but it does lack the childish fun that the Focus and Fiesta ST benefitted from. It’s toned down and refined, so while it has all the performance numbers and equipment to back-up the ST badging, it just doesn’t quite feel like the ST products that we know and love. That said, if you need a family hauler that can also scratch your performance driving itch, there are not many options anywhere near the Edge ST’s price point that can check both of those boxes.