Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cars: Price takes the Edge off Ford's large SUV

Fine car but it's too costly

The Ford Edge SUV
The Ford Edge SUV
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

We all have our prejudices. Whether we like to admit to them or not is another thing. It is reasonable to assume, I think, that many people feel Ford, for example, should stick to what they do and have been doing for years: producing mass-market cars such as the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo with a few high-performance RS and iconic models such as the Mustang adding a bit of spice to their line-ups.

So how do we square that prejudice with an SUV bearing the famous blue-oval emblem that costs nearly €60,000?

All I can infer from the figure is that someone, somewhere is trying really hard to push Ford into posh territory - at least on price. They already have their upmarket Vignale arm for the likes of the Mondeo and S-MAX whereby you are treated like a prince - and pay accordingly.

Now comes another demonstration of this desire to elevate to costlier echelons with the large Edge SUV. This is a substantial piece of work, its flared bonnet and copious cabin manifestations of its American-market roots (made in Canada but European versions significantly altered).

Only it is far too expensive (prices start from €55,700). Look, I've no problem with a spec-laden top-of-range car like this for people who want one. I just feel there should be one or two versions at far more affordable levels too. I think Ford are missing a beat on this because I know people who would love its great big welcoming interior and not be bothered that it doesn't have seven seats like the Hyundai Santa Fé or the KIA Sorento that can be bought for around the €40,000 mark.

I'm not going to labour the point. For what it is, the price is too exclusive. For what you get, there is a case to be made for saying it is among the best-equipped 'non-posh' large SUVs you'll find.

I just happen to think that anyone going to spend so much on a big motor like this is more likely to look upwards and go an extra five/10 grand or so and buy entry-level versions of the Volvo XC90, BMW X5, etc.

Ford would argue - and I've had the argument - that the Edge's more likely competitors are smaller, mid-size SUVs such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. It has a lot more room than the latter grouping. My goodness it is nearly 5 metres long (4.8m) - and that's not far off the BMW X5 (4.86m).

For all that, it is one of the easiest-going cars I've driven. On motorways especially, I let it canter along. Just don't expect scintillating performance; it was slow to respond to heavy pressure on the accelerator. I blamed the Powershift automatic transmission for that.

It was also on the softer side of comfortable on handling and ride; and a long way from the sharper dynamics of the Q5 or X3. I wasn't overly disappointed about that because some people prefer a softer suspension set-up and who am I to impose my racier prejudices/preferences?

They put a lot of effort, seemingly, into attuning it more towards European tastes, and say our versions have had thousands of changes made. As well as revised suspension settings, there have been visual alterations.

I think its looks reflect exactly what it is though: a big American-derived SUV that majors on room, comfort and, I must say, loads and loads of spec.

All-wheel-drive is standard and I had the more powerful of the 2-litre diesels (210PS). It had plenty of grunt and shunt - you'd need it for such a large vehicle - but it never really sparkled.

An interesting piece of the hi-tech on board is what they call Active Noise Cancellation. No, it doesn't keep the children/mother-in-law quiet (prejudiced comment?) but it significantly cuts the cabin noise.

It's ingenious: the speakers work at a frequency that cancels out sounds such as engine and tyres. And the glass has a thin film to help reduce wind noise.

I have to say the cabin was one quiet place to be. The difference that made on a couple of longer journeys was noticeable to me because some cars really thud the road noise over the routes I take quite often. That's the sort of noise that warrants turning up the radio.

I wasn't looking forward too much to parking this in some tight supermarket slots, but with a rear-view camera and other aids it was a breeze. It is ironic, isn't it, how so many space-gobbling big SUVs end up being taken for space-restricted shopping? Surely that is counter intuitive.

Overall, the Edge has lots of good things going for it but, despite its largeness and largesse, the price is a drawback.

I'd call it price prejudiced.

Facts & figures

Ford Edge SUV, Sport, AWD, 2.0 diesel, auto (210PS, 152g/km, tax €390). Price from €55,700. Vehicle tested: from €62,100. With options: from €68,220. Spec includes 20ins alloys, cruise control, parking sensors, 8ins touchscreen/satnav, rear-view camera, traffic sign recognition, dual-zone air con, electric/fold rear seats, collision avoidance. Options: rear inflatable seatbelts, adaptive LED lights, Active Park Assist, heated/cooled front/heated rear, seats, panorama roof.

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