Pedro Arrais review: Edge ST a family hauler, but with panache

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The 2019 Ford Edge ST looks, more or less, like your regular mid-sized SUV. But just put the pedal to the metal once and you will immediately know that some magic dust has been liberally sprinkled under the hood.

This is the second generation of the made-in-Canada Edge, which debuted in 2015.

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After a three-year career moving families, Ford decided to give it a little spice to coincide with a mid-cycle refresh for 2019.

Instead of just changing a few trim pieces and offering new colours (yes, they did all that), Ford decided to call on their in-house go-fast group — the Ford Performance Team — to give the Edge a bit more attitude this time around.

This is the same team that took the Focus econobox and made it into a hot hatch. They subsequently did their magic on the Fiesta as well.

The ST model replaces the Sport as the top dog of the Edge line.

The 2019 Edge starts at the SE model at $34,099. The ST, my tester today, has a list price of $45,099.

Engineers took the same engine from last year — a turbocharged 2.7-litre V-6 — and tweaked the software to find 20 more horses and 30 more pound-feet of torque, a modest improvement.

But when you are behind the wheel, it certainly feels like more.

Leave it in Drive and you will get a comfortable and predictable ride. But press the Sport button and the Edge throws off its sensible cloak to reveal a snarly, gnarly side. The vehicle almost strains to leap forward and, when unleashed, gives off a deep-throated snarl that encourages you to grasp the steering wheel more firmly.

Performance-wise, the Edge ST reminds me of a BMW X5 with the 3.0-litre V-6. The German is the more refined of the two, but the raunchy American plays the scrappy underdog well.

Readers might scoff at such a comparison, given that the BMW has a list price more than $20,000 higher.

For 2019, Ford has added two more gears to a total of eight speeds in the automatic transmission.

Along with a rotary dial in lieu of a shift knob, you can manually change gears with the steering-wheel paddle shifters.

Having eight speeds allows engineers to enhance the fuel economy of the Edge, which now consumes 12.6 litres per 100 km in the city and 9.2 on the highway (down from 13.8 and 9.8, respectively). An engine stop/start system undoubtedly helps.

While the ST comes standard with 20-inch wheels and rubber, my tester was graced with optional 21-inch black wheels with massive 265/40 R21 all-season tires.

Those wheels, combined with a stiffer suspension and tweaked steering feel, sets the ST apart from lesser Edges. I would hazard to say that it would outhandle some performance-oriented cars out there.

There is little body lean on corners, but the steering lacks the surgical-knife precision of the BMW. The ST is entertaining and I am confident that, given time, Ford engineers can tweak their vehicle to go steering-wheel to steering-wheel with the Germans.

The ST also gets upgraded sports seats with bolsters in the right places. I would have liked to see those bolsters adjustable to get a more customized fit, but the microsuede inserts on the leather-trimmed seats do grip your butt well.

Apart from the front seats, the interior is mostly the same as the rest of the line. Two information screens flank the central speedometer in front of the driver. A central touchscreen houses the vehicle’s infotainment system on top of the central stack.

The dash, while functional, has now been in use for a number of years and is now looking dated compared with offerings by competitors.

Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes dual-zone climate control, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, foot-activated rear liftgate and a Class II trailer tow package with trailer sway control.

My tester had an optional package that included a panoramic roof, voice-activated navigation system, heated and cooled front seats, enhanced park assist, adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist.

A welcome Cold Weather package includes a heated steering wheel and windshield-wiper de-icer.

The Ford Edge ST is a testament that, given the green light, engineers can make any vehicle more fun, more engaging and, in this case, more fuel-efficient for a modest investment.

I am sure premium carmakers won’t lose any sleep over this scrappy underdog. The lesson here is that if you are looking for performance, you don’t have to spend any more than the ST to wipe that silly grin off your face.

THE SPEC SHEET

Type: Mid-sized SUV, front engine, all-wheel-drive

Engine: Turbocharged 2.7-litre V-6, 335 hp at 5,550 r.p.m., 380 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,250 r.p.m.

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,778; width, 1,928; height, 1,742; wheelbase, 2,850

Curb weight (kg): 2,084

Price (base/as tested): $49,099/ $57,739 (includes $1,790 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Options: Equipment group 401A $5,800, 21-inch aluminum wheels $950

Tires: 265/40 R21 on alloy wheels

Fuel type: Premium

Fuel economy (L/100km): 12.6 city/ 9.2 highway

Warranty: Three years/60,000 km new car, five years/100,000 km powertrain and roadside assistance

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