Meet the "factory customized" crossover
What it is
2009 Ford Edge Sport – 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Names can set up false expectations, such as blind date Heather who arrives in all her hideousness. Another example would be the Edge crossover, which as it turned out, wasn’t so edgy in terms of look or overall character. That changes, to some degree, with the launch of the 2009 Ford Edge Sport, a version of the original with body and wheel upgrades aimed at giving the vehicle a more aggressive presence, and a few interior tweaks to give buyers the sense that they’re driving something actually unique. We’re still waiting for a truly sporty Edge, with a manual shift mode and stiffer suspension components, but the Sport at least fills a void for those seeking a bit of ‘tude with their non-SUV.Why it Matters
crossovers have taken off as more and more drivers switch away from minivans and traditional SUVs. As a result, competition is increasing, which is good for buyers but makes it tough for automakers trying to keep their models at the forefront of shoppers’ minds. That’s where a model such as the Sport comes into play, offering the crossover buyer a sporty alternative (at least visually) to what’s already on the market, and in turn bringing the focus back to a model that’s been on the market for awhile, the Ford Edge. The Edge Sport goes on sale this Fall.
What's Under the Hood
As much as we’d hoped, the 2009 Ford Edge Sport’s enhancements are mostly superficial, which means buyers will get the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine as found in all other versions. That powerplant is good for 265 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque, all managed by a six-speed automatic transmission. Available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations, the Edge rides on an independent suspension, features four-wheel disc brakes, and is directed by a rack-and-pinion steering system.
What It Looks Like
To differentiate the Sport from other variants, Ford has tweaked the exterior just enough to give it, well, an edge. A lower body kit has been added to give the Edge a hunkered-down appearance, with all bits painted to match one of four body colors: Sport Blue, Ebony, Brilliant Silver, and Redfire. Designers have also added fog lights, smoked headlight and taillight lenses, the requisite Sport badges, a lower grille insert, and most notable, 20-inch painted or 22-inch polished aluminum wheels rolling on Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires. Interior upgrades for the 2009 Ford Edge Sport are subtle and include dark gray leather seats with suede inserts, and color-keyed stitching used throughout the cabin. A metal-like finish has been added to the instrument panel.
What Ford Says
John Felice, Ford’s general manager, says “The new Ford Edge Sport is designed to instantly appeal to crossover customers who want a sportier custom look and feel. This specialty design reflects the growing popularity of personalization and more customers’ interest in industry shows like the annual Hot Import Nights around the country and the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas.” Mark Fields, president of Ford America, goes on, “The aftermarket industry has grown to a $40 billion annual business, and crossovers are the fastest-growing vehicle segment in the U.S. We want customers who crave something special to know that Ford can customize their Edge – right at the factory.”
What We Think
The Sport’s changes may be few in number, but they serve to give the Edge some much-needed attitude, a characteristic which should help Ford gain even broader appeal with its two-row crossover. On a visual basis, the Edge Sport will likely gain favor, but we’re a bit disappointed in the lack of hardware upgrades, such as a manual or sport mode tied to the transmission, or some sort of handling upgrade. The large tires might help in this regard, but nothing beats a stiffer suspension and beefier brakes, components Sport shoppers might expect.
By Thom Blackett
Photo Credit: Ford