Remember eating oatmeal with candy dinosaur eggs in it? A bit of flash on an age-old recipe of relatively filling comfort food. The Ford Edge is exactly like that, a fairly traditional ovoid family hauler with a handful of sharp lines scythed into its silhouette. But in an age of everything being supposedly sporty, is comfort such a bad thing? We grabbed the keys to a mid-range 2021 Ford Edge SEL AWD model to find out.
While the Edge’s overall shape is best described as egg-like there are some notably styled elements at play. Two sharp character lines dominate the profile view and help visually break up a lot of metal while the sharp angle of the greenhouse gives the illusion of a less upright roofline. Our tester came in a wonderful colour called Dark Persian Green which shifts noticeably from blue to green when the sun hits it. It’s a lovely no-cost option that’s fresh and extremely welcome among the sea of greyscale cars on our roadways. Worth particular note is the crisp LED lighting on both ends of the Edge.
Tech inside the Edge is state of the art for five-years ago. No USB-C ports, no fully digital cluster and no heads-up display but SYNC 3 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and our tester was equipped with a lovely heated steering wheel. The panoramic moonroof stills draws admiration from passengers and the powered remote release to drop the second row is a nice touch. While the nine-speaker audio system in our SEL test car isn’t anywhere near the crispest unit offered in a car, it isn’t bad for a standard non-branded midrange stereo. While it doesn’t have much of a bottom end, what frequencies it offers are fairly balanced with relatively low distortion for a main-line non-branded stereo.
Comfort and space are the Edge’s big draws. The seats are as wonderfully plush as granddad’s favourite chair and the armrests aren’t bad either. The front centre one is particularly capacious, a deep cubby that can easily swallow a box of tissues. A big draw over the smaller Escape (reviewed here) is the Edge’s width which allows for genuinely comfortable three-across seating in the back. Speaking of rear seats, they recline, have their own vents and offer two ways to charge devices – a household outlet and a conventional 12V. While the latter is rare these days, it’s fairly convenient for powering air compressors and can easily be turned into two USB ports via an aftermarket adapter.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that’s a bit small to be powering something the size of a small building. While the touted numbers of 250 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque seem feeble yet adequate, they’re only attainable on 93-octane gasoline. Since most Edge owners won’t be filling up with hi-test, the end result is slightly less power than what a 2004 Toyota Sienna packs. Somewhat making up for it, the eight-speed automatic is quite smooth with the only feelable indication of a hard downshift being the faint resistance of the throttle pedal hitting the kickdown switch.
This combination of a curiously inert engine and a relatively smooth and unobtrusive eight-speed automatic transmission helps to deliver an utterly serene driving experience. Minor bumps are often heard and not felt while relatively large freeway potholes are felt merely as small murmurs through the rear suspension. Noise suppression is also superb with high-density carpet, laminated windscreen glass and felt wheel well liners all doing their part to make the Edge as blissful at 100km/h as it is at 40km/h and preserve the quality of phone calls over Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The steering fulfils the definition of steering by altering the direction of the vehicle but the wheel lacks feedback and weight. It’s not a bad thing on a vehicle designed to be an isolation chamber for five but it’s worth noting that no inkling of any traits commonly associated with an ST emblem trickle down to other trims. Let’s also hope that the stability control is programmed deftly as numb steering can make it difficult to predict the limits of adhesion on slippery winter surfaces.
Ford’s EcoBoost engines are often derided for being heavy on the boost and light on the eco and the Edge’s tested fuel economy reflects that common sentiment. Despite the Edge’s fairly lazy throttle mapping that attempts to maintain efficiency by keeping revs low at anything south of wide-open, we averaged 10.7L/100km. This wouldn’t be terrible if we were running 87 octane but the recommended 93 octane carried roughly a 30 per cent premium in our area – ouch.
As in many other models, Ford’s CoPilot360 Assist+ safety suite continues to be a notch below acceptable in the Edge. While blind-spot monitoring is nice and accurate, the pre-collision warning system is a bit jumpy and lane-keep assist has a tendency to ping-pong between lane markers in construction zones. It’s all a bit annoying in the real world which is why it stayed off for much of our testing duration. The adaptive cruise is just terrible in slow-moving heavy traffic, frequently activating the ABS when attempting to smoothly follow the car in front.
While these gizmos are required to get built-in navigation, it’s better to skip the $850 package and just use Waze through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Come to think of it, while the Class II Trailer Tow Package is good to have just for paddle shifters, it’s probably best not to use it for much towing. With somewhat disappointing fuel consumption in normal unladen driving, imagine how far fuel economy will drop with the weight and aerodynamic disadvantages of a loaded trailer working against it.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the 2021 Ford Edge SEL AWD just as there’s nothing wrong with oatmeal. It’s a familiar recipe and at $46,669 as-tested it’s fair value for the segment. While the Honda Passport (reviewed here) and Chevrolet Blazer offer more engagement and the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are even better value, the Ford Edge is a bubble of calm in the boring slow-motion apocalypse of right now. With crumbling infrastructure to traverse and everything in the world looking harder and cutting sharper by the minute, the Edge is a reasonable choice for anyone who’s more concerned with the burdens of life than they are about driving enjoyment.