You might think it strange that Ford would ponder a follow-up to the 5-passenger Edge crossover SUV, as evidenced by the Ford Edge Concept that debuted at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Just below the Edge sits the 5-passenger Escape, which is on track to hit 300,000 sales this year. That’s huge, especially for a vehicle with a poorly received infotainment system and a “Poor” rating in the new small overlap frontal-impact crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Just above the Edge sit both the Explorer and the Flex, each with three rows of seats, and each with a distinctive design all its own. It would seem there’s not much room in between, no?
No. I mean, yes. No, that’s not true and yes there is. In fact, Ford says Edge sales are on the rise, despite basic engineering that dates to the 2007 model year. Naturally, then, a replacement is being readied, and the Edge Concept points clearly in the direction that Ford is heading with its next redesigned crossover SUV.
In introducing the Ford Edge Concept in Los Angeles, the automaker explained that it showcases the design, craftsmanship, and technology of the company’s next global SUV. Words like “sleek,” “fluid,” “athletic,” and “sculpted” were used to describe what is expected to become available in showrooms as the next-generation Ford Edge.
Now, is it just me, or does the Edge Concept’s front end look exactly like a Hyundai Santa Fe?
From the front doors back, the Edge Concept is comfortingly familiar, with a rakish rear end that looks clean and upscale. Requisite gray cladding and fake front and rear skid plates provide the appropriately rugged look that SUV buyers want, and the concept vehicle’s massive wheels and tires give the Edge Concept an authoritative stance.
Notably, the Edge is designed to slip through the atmosphere with as little drag as possible. The three-bar grille includes active shutters to smooth airflow, and Ford employs a trick used by BMW, called air curtains, at the front corners of the Edge Concept.
Inside, the Edge Concept features what Ford calls a “Dynamic Sanctuary” highlighted with premium materials, premium perforated leather upholstery, and an extended leather treatment. The MyFord Touch infotainment system expands in size, providing a 10-inch display that might help to silence critics of the technology.
According to Ford, the next Edge will contain new EcoBoost engines equipped with automatic stop/start technology. It’s also a safe bet that it will have an automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available as an option.
No details were given with regard to engines, but my guess is that the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder that’s going into the 2015 Lincoln MKC will make its way into the Edge. In the Lincoln, the engine is rated to make 270 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.
The point of rolling the Ford Edge Concept onto a stage in Los Angeles was to tell the media about the new active safety and autonomous technologies that Ford is working on. From the automaker’s current suite of safety systems, the Edge Concept is equipped with a Blind Spot Information System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Brake Support, a Lane Keeping System, and Active Park Assist.
New stuff includes adaptive steering, which reduces the amount of steering required and the level of steering effort at lower vehicle speeds, similar to what BMW and other automakers already provide. The Edge Concept is also equipped with obstacle avoidance technology that scans the road ahead, identifies slow-moving or stationary objects in the SUV’s path, and if the driver fails to take corrective action, automatically brakes and steers the vehicle in order to avoid a collision.
Whether or not you like the idea of autonomous technology in your next car, you can’t deny that this next feature wouldn’t be useful: Fully Assisted Parking Aid. With this system, you can pull up to a parallel or perpendicular parking space, unload your passengers, and with a push of the remote keyless fob the Edge will go ahead and park itself. It works if you’re inside the vehicle, too.
Attractive if derivative, the next-generation Ford Edge should continue the strong sales pace that the current version is setting, unless economic conditions drastically change. The new semi-autonomous technologies that Ford is working on should be appealing to a certain segment of the driving population, too. So as long as Ford successfully boost fuel economy and improves upon the current Edge model’s iffy frontal-impact crash-test scores, you’re likely looking at the next home-run crossover SUV to roll out of Dearborn.