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Old 01-16-2006, 05:48   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford's 2007 Edge Heats Up Crossover Segment

Ford's 2007 Edge Heats Up Crossover Segment

Does the 2007 Ford Edge have what it takes to slice into the crossover market?

By Rex Roy
Inside Line

It will be a sure sign of success that 15 years from now, kids raised in this decade will shun the Ford Edge — along with every other crossover. Come 2021, Highlanders will be hokey and Pacificas pedestrian. It's a cruel fate that awaits vehicles of a generation. Consider the evidence: Station wagons represented the quintessential family car of the 1960s and 70s, but the 1980s were not kind to the two-box design. And minivans exploded in popularity throughout the 1980s. But what 16-year-old wants to drive one to the prom today (if ever)? The same will soon be true for truck-based SUVs — the vehicles that dominated the 1990s.

Ford thinks that crossovers are the next hot automotive product and that, in the coming decade, crossovers will become a staple of vehicle buyers throughout North America. Many experts predict that 2006 will be the year that crossover SUVs outsell truck-based SUVs for the first time. Ford is ready, expanding its line of crossovers with the all-new 2007 Edge.

What is a crossover?
Before looking at the newest vehicle to wear the Blue Oval, let's define what, exactly, a crossover is. A crossover is an SUV built on a car or minivan chassis instead of a truck-based platform. Trucks traditionally have separate frames with bodies placed upon the frames. Cars and minivans overwhelmingly feature a structure that combines the frame and body into one unit (often called a unibody) that is significantly lighter. The non-truck chassis helps these vehicles deliver carlike ride. The larger size of the crossover offers passenger and cargo capabilities that traditional sedans and station wagons can't match.

Names will help define the breed: The first was Toyota's 1996 RAV4, followed by a flood of others including Pontiac's ill-fated Aztek, Chevrolet's popular Equinox, Honda's Pilot and CR-V, and Ford's own Freestyle and segment-leading Escape. These Fords further illustrate the two main categories of crossovers, those that look more like tall station wagons and those that look like downsized trucks. For 2006, there are some 50 crossovers to choose from.

The edge of the Edge
Ford's Edge slices through the crossover clutter with a design that is neither a tall wagon nor small truck. Ford groups the Edge with the Lexus RX 330 and the Infiniti FX35 — designs it considers neither fish nor fowl.

Regardless of how it's defined, the design is spot-on. Shortly before Ford unveiled the Edge at the Detroit auto show, Edge Chief Designer Doyle Letson walked us around the new crossover at Ford's styling center in Dearborn, Michigan. "When you're talking design, proportion is everything," said Letson, "and this vehicle has it. The wheels are out at the corners, and the relationship of the greenhouse [windows] to the beltline is thoroughly modern."

Like a true artist, Letson pointed out details that give the Edge its own character. Consider the waist-high character line that runs the length of the vehicle…or the hint of a power bulge on the hood…and the details within the taillight housing that give the impression of multiple LEDs shining out. Mostly, Letson noted, the Edge's look comes from the way the sheet metal is tightly drawn over the body. "There is a tension in the metal — as if it were drawn tight over a frame," Letson crooned. He also likes the way the 18-inch aluminum rims fill the wheelwells. "They give the car a solid, planted feel."

Jeri Ward, the Edge marketing manager, continued with the presentation. She noted how families will appreciate the flexible interior, the storage capabilities, and the expansive Vista Roof. The déj* vu essence of the pitch almost made us tune her out, as such presentations often sound the same with only the names changed — "…our car/truck/SUV is the best/class-leading in performance/style/capabilities…blah, blah, blah." Then she started talking like an engineer. Surprise…Ward comes from the engineering side of the business. Cool. She also owns and captains a custom-made missile-shaped boat capable of over 75 mph. Way cool. (Easy, boys, she's married.)

With this newfound understanding, we paid even more attention as she took us through the balance of the interior. The front bucket seats are more sporting than we anticipated, with body-hugging bolsters and good support. The dash is done in tasteful materials that have a clean, modern look and a high-quality feel. Ward even pointed out the large vents, "They deliver a high volume of air at low speed…it helps keep everybody comfortable without generating much noise."

Under the Edge
In true crossover form, the Edge is built on a modified Ford CD platform — the same basic architecture currently found under the Ford Fusion and Mazda 6 (think front struts and an independent rear suspension). Power comes from Ford's new 3.5-liter V6 engine. Expectations are for 250 horsepower from this all-aluminum mill with double-overhead camshafts. The power is routed through a close-ratio six-speed automatic transmission that turns the front wheels, or all four when equipped with available AWD. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard.

While we haven't driven the Edge, or any model with the new powertrain, the close ratios of the transmission should help provide quick acceleration. First and 2nd gears are optimized for acceleration, while the tall 6th gear is an overdrive that maximizes highway fuel economy. Ford claims that the new gearbox alone delivers fuel savings of up to 7 percent compared to a conventional four-speed automatic.

In the future, expect a hybrid Edge, as the 3.5-liter V6 is hybrid-capable. A high-performance model may also be in the mix, as the 3.5-liter was designed from the outset to accept forced induction.

Edging out the competition
In an effort to use every annoying pun possible — the Edge does edge out its crossover competition on many fronts. Ford insists that the Edge will remain affordable while providing the only standard six-speed automatic in the class.

Looking at the Edge's crossover and SUV competition, we would not be surprised to see the base Edge with front-wheel drive come in around $27,000. A loaded all-wheel-drive Edge with the Vista Roof, navigation system and leather seating should sticker in the mid-$30,000s.

Scheduled for a fall 2006 release, the Edge has the makings of a hit. We'll bring you a first drive as soon as Ford gives us the opportunity to get behind the wheel of it, or one of its sister vehicles, the Mazda CX-7 or the Lincoln MKX.


Shot inside Ford's design studio in Dearborn, Michigan, the 2007 Ford Edge strikes a solid pose with bold character lines and a wide stance. Note the expansive panoramic Vista Roof. (Photo by Rex Roy)

VEHICLE TYPE
Model Year 2007
Make Ford
Model Edge
Drive Type FWD or AWD
Transmission Type 6-speed automatic
Displacement (liters) 3.5
Engine Type V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm) 250@6250
Torque (ft-lbs @ rpm) 240@4500
Braking System 4-wheel disc w/ ABS
Steering System Power rack and pinion
Suspension Type (front) MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear) Independent w/ stablizer bar
Tire Size (front) 235/65R17 all-season
Tire Size (rear) 235/65R17 all-season
Curb Weight (lbs) 4086
Recommended Fuel 87 Octane
SPECIFICATIONS
Length 193.4 in.
Width 73.5 in.
Height 67.0 in.
Wheelbase 111.2 in.
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 32.0 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Volume
(rear seats down) 68.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Towing Capacity 3500 lbs.


The Edge has a sporty profile. Most crossovers look like truck-based SUVs or like tall station wagons. Ford designers think the Edge falls into a sportier third category currently populated by the Lexus RX 330 and the Infiniti FX35. (Photo by Rex Roy)


Step-down headlights and a bold three-bar grille put a bold, recognizable face on the Edge. It's a look that Ford designers think is all-American. (Photo by Rex Roy)


The Edge exhibits careful attention to detail, such as the taillights that look like LEDs, but are actually illuminated from a single low-cost bulb. (Photo by Rex Roy)


The interior is purposeful and stylish. Cool features include a huge center console that conceals 12-volt power and MP3-player audio-in jacks. The center console is big enough to swallow laptop computers. (Photo by Rex Roy)


Rear seats offer adult-size dimensions, recline for added comfort, and fold forward to extend the load floor. (Photo by Rex Roy)


Power for the Edge comes from Ford's new 3.5-liter V6. This engine delivers 250 horsepower, but requires no more room than Ford's current 3.0-liter V6 that powers the Five Hundred, Fusion and many other products. (Photo by Rex Roy)


The 3.5-liter V6 features high-performance features such as dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, a forged crankshaft, and a high compression ratio. These features help the engine meet stringent ultralow emissions (ULEV II) requirements.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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