What’s this? A car review on Riverside Green? Well, once upon a time I wrote rental reviews for a site called “The Truth About Cars”. (Readers who are coming back to this piece from the year 2020 or afterwards: I’m referring to the site that is now known as Autoguide Jr. Presented By The Midwestern Automotive Motorjournalist Association In Conjunction With Kia..) Since I no longer write for TTAC, but I do continue to rent cars, it seemed reasonable to toss you maniacs a bit of red meat.
The Car: 2018 Ford Edge Titanium AWD, with 20,200 miles on it
The Price: Approximately $38,500. A 2019 Edge Titanium AWD would be $39,700.
The Drive: From Columbus, Ohio to Monticello Motor Club and back, then down to Cincinnati and back, for an approximate total of 1,400 miles.
Alright, let’s get to it. At the very least, you’ll want to hear about the deer in the middle of the freeway, right?
The last time I reviewed an Edge was eight years ago. At the time, I thought that it was more or less a perfect example of What Women Want From Today’s Automobile. That’s still the case, and since the distaff demographic is notoriously conservative when it comes to vehicle design, Ford has wisely declined to make any significant changes to the formula. Although my test vehicle was a second-generation product, it’s pretty hard to tell the differences between this and the original. The 2019 mid-cycle refresh introduces a new eight-speed transmission and a new fascia but virtually nobody will notice.
What does the Edge do well? To start with, it’s an extremely competent freeway cruiser, quiet as the grave and offering a strong combination of comfort and visibility even if the driver is shorter than average. Crosswind sensitivity is just about nil. Wet-weather behavior at speed is exemplary. Few vehicles this side of an S-Class Benz convey a feeling of security to the driver as well as this middle-class Ford. After twenty thousand rental miles, there was neither rattle nor hum to be heard. Not only was the structure still tight as a drum, there wasn’t any visible wear on the interior surfaces. Honda could learn quite a bit from the way the Edge holds up to abuse.
Rear seat room is somewhere between Camry and Avalon, while the cargo compartment offers generous dimensions in length and width but not height due to the aggressive slant of the rear window. Under no circumstances will you be putting a mountain bike or a double bass back there, unless you fold the rear seats. Much like the early Lexus RXes it so clearly imitates/emulates, the Edge is light on both the “sport” and the “utility” sides of the sport-utility equation. It’s a tall sedan with neighbor-acceptable styling, occupying precisely the same niche in 2018 that the Ford Granada did in 1975. Virtually any task you’d undertake with an Edge could be handled just as well by an Accord LX.
If you chose that Accord (or any of its market rivals), you’d give a few things up. The all-wheel-drive system of the Edge is remarkably competent and it’s very hard to produce misbehavior on slick surfaces. The Sony-branded stereo is pretty damned good — for 2019, the branding moves to Bang&Olufsen in belated recognition of the Edge’s bougie pretensions — and since the Edge itself is quiet, you can hear more of the details in your favorite music as a consequence. Then there’s the general quality of the dashboard, door cards, and seating, all of them an obvious step above what’s found in even the upmarket trim levels of a Camry or Sonata. It’s also worth noting that while the general feature set and functionality of MyFordTouch has been met or exceeded by the competition in the near-decade since its debut, Ford’s take on whole-system infotainment remains a cut above anything you can find in a Japanese-branded or GM automobile. The same is true for the digital dashboard; it ain’t changed much, but it didn’t need to.
Yet the Edge’s crowd-pleasing qualities come at a price. I mean that literally. This is a $38,000 automobile, and one that is not sharply discounted with any regularity. It takes some real build-and-price gymnastics to get a midsize sedan anywhere near it. The equivalent Accord to this is an EX-L, which lists for $29,970. And the cost differences don’t stop there. The Ontario-built Edge features a Cleveland engine — the “twin-scroll” two-liter turbo that cranks out 250 remarkably frisky horsepower but which also struggles to return more than 24 miles per gallon in mixed usage. An Accord 1.5T would give you between 36 and 39 driven over the same roads in the same fashion. The Edge is heavy, so you’ll be buying those expensive low-profile tires more often. The same goes for the brakes. When I do some back-of-the-envelope numbers, I come away with a difference of maybe $275 a month between this and a family sedan, mostly due to the additional payment but also factoring in some fuel-economy and running-cost differences. That’s five grand a year in pretax money. You could take your family on a half-decent vacation for that price premium.
Another price which is typically ignored by the Edge’s target market: dynamic competence. On the way back from Monticello, I had a deer leap out onto the dotted-white line between lanes, a few hundred feet ahead of my nose. I hit the ABS and started to dodge — but a vehicle this tall and tippy can’t be flicked around like an Accord Coupe. I missed the animal by a whisker, and that was with no shortage of head-toss drama in the cockpit. In a conventional sedan, it would have been far less dramatic. While we’re on the topic of this particular maneuver, I can’t say I cared much for the headlights on this thing; compared to the LED main beams on my Silverado, these are weak sauce, particularly when it’s raining.
It’s easy to see why the Edge is successful. It gives you 95% of a Lexus RX at 85% of the real-world transaction price. (Equipping an RX350 AWD to about Titanium levels returns an MSRP of $49,970. I can’t imagine you’d get much of a discount.) For families with aspirations beyond the Accord EX-L but a budget that won’t stretch to a premium-brand crossover, the suppository-shaped Ford is just the ticket. With that said, I couldn’t muster up even a tiny flickering of desire for the thing. I’d rather save the money and get a real car. Given how many times I’ve heard similar sentiments from female friends and/or dates regarding, say, my Porsche 911 or even my old Audi S5, there’s something truly illuminating about being on the other side of the auto-erotic coin for once in my life. It might not be socially acceptable to say it, but in the final analysis the Edge is a girl thing, and I just don’t understand.