Cost-cutting measures have been an ongoing process for the Detroit’s big three — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. All three automotive giants reported declining sales in 2007 with Ford taking the biggest hit, 12.1 percent. Not only did Ford’s sales dive sharply in 2007, it was overtaken by Toyota as No. 2 in the American market. And Toyota probably won’t stop there. GM’s days as king of the hill look numbered as well.
Looking for answers, Ford did a couple of things right last year, introducing a two solid crossover sport utility vehicles that were well received. Neither the Ford Edge or its Lincoln cousin, the MKX, could halt the overall slide, but they made a difference at a time when a success story or two were desperately needed.
And I must admit, a first glance at the 2008 Edge drew an appealing nod of approval and driving this car-like SUV was a pleasure as well. Keep in mind my week was spent with the all-wheel drive Edge Limited. Unveiled as a 2008 model, is is most expensive of the three available models at $32,070. The SE version, the base model, goes for $25,330.
No matter which model is chosen, the Edge is a solid selection for anyone shopping for a mid-size SUV. Good thing, because the class has some big-time competition: Toyota Highlander, the Nissan Murano, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, the Mazda CX-7 and a new other notables.
All Edge models possess a responsive 3.5-liter, V6 with 265 horsepower and 6-speed automatic transmission, which is good news because this is one heavy vehicle at 4,200 pounds. The towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
What might not appeal to some car shoppers is the five-seat capacity. Unlike some of its competitors, the Edge has no third-row seating. The good news is the lack of a third row creates a lot more leg room and comfort for backseat passengers.
The Edge is just one of many SUVs in the Ford lineup, which includes the improved Explorer and the super-sized Expedition. The Edge was introduced on the heels of the Freestyle, which has been largely ignored. The Edge is smaller than the Freestyle but bigger than the Escape.
Crossovers like the Edge are gaining in popularity in part because of their car-like handling capability, reasonable mileage figures (15-22 mpg), versatility and stylish appeal, featuring the new “corporate grille,” which was introduced with the Fusion. One other positive about the Edge is it received the highest possible score in highway safety crash tests.
While the interior is ordinary and some of the material is questionable in quality (too much hard plastic), one optional item is a keeper. The glass Vista Roof has a sliding sunshade and extends from the front seat into the entire back seat, providing a real airy feel for an extra $1,395. Another cool feature: Push a button in the cargo region the second row seating folds down.
The Edge has a good-sizzed cargo area and offers plenty of other storage options as well with a huge center console, sizable glove box and several accommodating bins.
FAST FACTS: Ford Edge, 2008
Power: 3.5-liter, V6, 265 horsepower; Mileage Estimates: 15-22 mpg; Standard Features: Anti-skid system; 6-way power driver seat; 6-disc, CD/MP3 changer; automatic headlights; automatic climate control; power windows, locks, mirrors; iPod adapter; rear privacy glass.