ANYONE who doubts that SUVs are taking over the world should read a survey to coax us into buying the new Ford Edge sports utility.
No, forget that. It gets boring after a few paragraphs so I will play Mr Helpful and relay the main points.
We know all about the SUV boom – sales have quadrupled in the last 10 years – but it seems they are on the wanted list of one in three stay-at-home mums and a whole raft of 17 to 34 year olds, called Millennials, and 50 somethings.
That pretty much covers everyone which begs the question why Ford has waited so long to bring us a big SUV?
‘Us’ refers to Europe because Edge has been burning up the tarmac in the States for years, but what suits the Americans would not stand a cat in hell’s chance over here.
What we are getting is an Edge with a bit of cutting edge, built on a platform that also does for Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy which means it has decent handling and lots of kit. Not that it is totally bereft of north American influences.
Spot the big brash grille in the driving mirrors and it could be a pick up, but from the central B pillar back it is much calmer and really quite stylish with a tail end not unlike the Lexus RX, and that’s no bad thing.
Ford had to get this right because Edge is entering a lion’s den of top flight SUVs with BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC all waiting to put the fear of God into it.
Edge has broad shoulders and while it is not at the budget end it does well on price and swats these three away on cabin space. With a length of 4.8 metres we might have expected seven seats but have to settle for five because Ford says hardly anyone uses the third row.
Winning back that space means there is heaps of room for the ubiquitous family of five with anything between 600 and 800 litres of boot depending how high the chattels are stacked. Drop the seat back and you nearly have a spare room.
First contact with the business end of Edge comes over as cluttered. Unlike the surgical precision of a Q5 there is a lot for the driver to take in.
The button-busy steering wheel is enough to bring on a panic attack and it is just as frenetic in the centre console although once over the initial shock there is a considered logic to the layout and the displays in the touchscreen are excellent.
In keeping with Ford’s desire to move closer to the premium market, the switches, soft plastics and trim have a quality look and feel.
Only diesel power is on offer with either 177bhp or 206bhp options from a two litre engine, the latter mated to an automatic gearbox. Neither has performance to set the world on fire but are nice easy cruisers while body control is typically new Ford, so it’s good. There is a decent 400Nm of torque on the 177bhp engine and 47.9mpg average. Road tax is £180 a year.
All wheel drive kicks in when sensors decide extra grip is needed which helps boost economy and lowers emissions compared to a permanent 4x4 system.
We went off roading of sorts on the Duke of Roxburghe’s estate on the Scottish borders but it was no more than a rough, dry farm track so it is difficult to assess how close the Edge can be taken to the edge although without hill descent or other 4x4 aids I would loathe to push it too far.
Ford reckon you need 80 grand a year coming in to afford an Edge and that most buyers will go for the middle of the road Titanium automatic, £34,495, followed by the Sport, £36,750. A luxury Vignale model should be with us by the end of the year with a price tag of around £40,000.
Should you only be able to afford the entry Zetec, £29,995, then the news is good because the standard kit includes DAB radio, Active City Stop which detects people as well as vehicles, a rear view camera and the brilliant heated front windscreen.