Ford has sold over 123,000 SUVs in the UK in the last two years alone. But while its little EcoSport and mid-range Kuga swallow up giant sections of that, its big SUV, the Edge, only shifted 6,000 units.
The Edge has been on our shores since 2015, and Ford have decided now is the time for a refresh, a new approach to grab more of that SUV market, so the new for 2019 car comes with a brand new face and rump and a streamlined list of options.
The company admits that the Edge is pushing the price point of a Ford quite high, and into the territory of some formidable foes. But what they hope it will bring to the market is simplicity. The 2019 Edge range has been streamlined, dropping down to just three different specs – Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale. That leaves no space for staples like Zetec, but with good reason – the previous iteration saw just a one per cent take-up of Zetec trimline.
We drove the new Edge in ST-Line form, which means you get the standard kit from the 'base' £36,995 Titanium (LED lights, rear privacy glass, 10-way adjustable, heated and cooled seats, dual zone climate control, keyless entry, automatic headlights and wipers, a rear parking camera, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control) as well as 20-inch alloys, power folding mirrors, a heated steering wheel, stop/start, a 1,000W Bang & Olufsen sound system and Ford Pass Connect, which includes a WiFi hotspot, for an extra £6,000. An upgrade to Vignale will cost another £3,000 but adds all the usual Vignale styling cues.
While the changes to the nose are instantly recognisable, inside not a lot has changed to the naked eye. The Edge still retains an updated version of the Ford interior that will be familiar to anyone who's bought a Dagenham SUV over the last decade or so. What has changed is the deletion of the gear stick, replaced with a rotary dial for selecting 'Drive', 'Sport' etc, which declutters the cabin quite considerably. Ford's infotainment system remains more or less unchanged, a good thing as it's a simple system to use, not overly complicated but also not loaded with the extra customisation features some of its rivals have chased. The eight-inch touchscreen is responsive and clearly laid out, and Bluetooth pairing is simple. Out back the boot will swallow 602-litres of your finest stuff, and that expands to 1,847-litres if you fold the rear seats flat.
The ST-Line comes coupled with the pretty meaty 238PS (234bhp) 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBlue diesel engine. That motor is good for a not unreasonable 500Nm (369lb ft) of torque (an increase of 50Nm over the outgoing model) and will propel the Edge to 62mph in a sprightly 9.6 seconds. All that power is routed through Ford's updated all-wheel-drive system, which now includes the ability to stop the main driveshaft from spinning to save fuel. While the Vignale is also mated with this power plant the Titanium model will be fitted with a slightly detuned 150PS version and front-wheel-drive only.
The engine is matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can be used in either normal 'drive' mode or a slightly quicker Sport mode. It pairs well with the low-down bash of torque from the diesel, but we'd recommend sticking the 'box in Sport mode for all but motorway cruising and town driving. The difference is small, but kickdown wait is diminished in Sport, so for any country lane driving it cuts out any frustrating pauses.
Out and about the Edge isn't entirely able to hide its size (4.7m long, 1.7m tall) but does have a good go. It never feels overly roll-ey or too unsettled by a spirited corner. The steering is nicely weighted, perhaps a little lighter than some of Ford's smaller propositions, but still giving more confidence in the movement than many similar sized SUVs. It's not filled with feel by any means, but it's consistent and that little extra weight brings more confidence in the nose of the car. Cruising the ride is exceptionally damped with only the most significant of bumps throwing it off.
It's in towns and cruising that an Edge will spend most of its life, and then the '19 model really does manage to hit most of the spots. That diesel slung out front is only really noticeable when you're asking it for some action, and even then it's never intrusive. At cruising speeds the edge is quiet and relaxed, with little in the way of road noise to bother you. The seats are comfortable and on a long cruise the new Edge is a pleasant place to be, plus the giant Bang and Olufsen sound system is an excellent accompaniment.
Ford have given themselves a big task in taking on the more luxurious end of the market, and has slapped a price on the Edge that will put some traditional buyers off. But that the much easier to understand range will attract buyers bored of giant options lists elsewhere. The Edge is a good car and excellent for anyone who expects to do long distances, it just remains to be seen if it can continue to compete.