2012 Ford Edge SEL EcoBoost Road Test

A case study in why you shouldn't trust love at first sight.

What It Is
The 2012 Ford Edge is a five-passenger family hauler, ideally suited for...five-person families
Best Thing
Fuel-efficient and powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Worst Thing
Despite upgrade, MyFord Touch is still buggy.
Snap Judgment
The Ford Edge remains a compelling choice, even after all these years. But a long list of minor complaints dulls its...edge (we promise that's the only "edge" pun).


The staff here at Automotive.com recently drove a couple of crossovers. One was a clever family hauler, with a powerful but fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, plenty of room for five, and a high-tech interior that was easy and fun to use. The other was a stiff-riding, low-visibility pillbox, with a gadget-laden dashboard that was prone to bugs.

Problem is, they were the same vehicle: The 2012 Ford Edge.

A good chunk of the time, it's pretty easy to decide whether we like or dislike a vehicle. But this time, we were ambivalent. The Ford Edge has a lot of very good things going for it. It's big and comfortable, its second row can fit three across without much problem, there's plenty of cargo space, and it even looks cool inside and out. It's also loaded with the kind of technical gadgetry that makes modern car buyers swoon.

But it's also filled with minor irritants, the kind that add up over time to drive you nuts. It's like dating someone whom at first blush is just about perfect in every way...except for how they chew open-mouthed. Or scratch their ear in exactly the wrong way. Or clear their throat exactly too many times, exactly too loudly. And pretty soon, you're updating your Match.com profile all over again.

So the question before us wasn't whether the 2012 Ford Edge nailed the basics, because it clearly does that. Instead, we wanted to find out if its minor irritants were enough to rule it out, or if we were willing to overlook how it popped its gum all the time.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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What We Drove

There are four different Edge models: SE, SEL, Limited and Sport. Ours was a mid-level SEL, albeit one with several options boxes checked. The base price of $31,905, including the $825 destination charge, gets you a pretty nicely equipped crossover, with Ford's SYNC voice-activated phone integration system; reverse sensors; leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter; dual-zone climate control; and a 10-way power driver's seat. Our tester also included a $2,510 option package that bundled MyFord Touch; leather seating; a back-up camera; and "ambient lighting," which translates to red lights in the footwells. The navigation system was an extra $795, and the blind-spot monitoring system added $485 to the bottom line. Then there was the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a $995 option that promises good fuel economy with V-6 like performance.

Safety is a concern for any family hauler, and the Edge has airbags aplenty -- front, side, and curtain -- and it comes with stability and traction control. Considering that it does well in virtually every other crash test score from the government, and earned a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, we were surprised to see that it earned only three stars in its government frontal crash test rating. Our test vehicle also had a backup camera and blind-spot detection, but you'll have to move up to the Limited model ($35,765, including destination) if you want active cruise control with collision intervention, where it's part of a $5,090 option package.

The Commute

The 2012 Ford Edge is a very good commuter. The engine is silent, but plenty powerful for when you're jumping onto the freeway, or squirting through holes in traffic. The steering feels good in your hands; it's light, but not too light. And the driver's seat is extremely comfortable, although long-legged drivers may knock their knees on the steering column from time to time. There's decent storage space, with a deep center console, a hidden shelf behind the center stack, a good-sized glovebox, door pockets, and two cupholders of different size all in front.

Even avid carpoolers will find plenty to like about the Edge. The rear seat is plenty large for adults, even if they're well over 6 feet. And although the center position is never the most comfortable, the Edge gets a passing score here too, offering up at least enough shoulder and headroom for grown ups. Rear seaters have plenty of room for their coffee and other small items, and there's obviously plenty of room in the cargo area for everyone's briefcases. If you're going someplace new, the navigation system's big, bright, colorful screen makes it easy to see your destination and check traffic. The audio system itself is excellent, offering great sound, without overpowering any particular sound range, and the integration with your iPod or mp3 player is excellent.

So it's perfect, right? Not quite. For one thing, the suspension is on the stiff side. Everybody noted that the Edge pounded over bumps sometimes, with one editor even insisting that it was too stiff for its role as a family hauler. While the interior design is quite nice, even futuristic in a way, some of the materials felt low-grade. For example, although this model had an upgraded leather interior, the rear seats only had hides on a small square in the middle of the seatbacks and seat bottoms; the rest was rubbery-feeling vinyl. The touch-sensitive buttons for temperature and radio controls look cool, but they're tiny and maddeningly sensitive:; while adjusting to a radio station, you might suddenly find yourself in the middle of an arctic blast because an errant finger brushed against the temperature control. In contrast to the touch-sensitive buttons, the power door lock button looked like it was pulled straight out of a 10-year-old Ford parts bin, and the entry keypad mounted on the door is literally a relic from the 80s, even boasting the exact same buttons that were on your mom's 1986 Ford Taurus.

Then there was MyFord Touch. A lot of ink has been spilled over this particular Ford feature, which purports to combine entertainment, navigation, climate, and phone controls into one colorful and easy to use place. In fairness, most of the time it worked as advertised. This vehicle had the recent upgrade, and the interface was simple, clear, easy to use, and even fun. Except when it completely stopped working for about an hour, killing any and all access to the aforementioned functions, including climate control. Turning the car on and off did nothing, although after the car had sat for a while, it returned to normal functioning. Then there was the touch screen, which was sporadically insensitive to fingers. Furthermore, it occasionally ignored on-screen commands; for example, shutting off "shuffle" on our iPod required voice commands. The voice recognition was good, but the interface is still clunky, requiring you to go through verbal submenus -- navigation; new destination; street; etc. -- rather than just say, "Where's 123 Main St?" While MyFord Touch is still par for the course with vehicle navigation systems, smartphone technology like Apple's Siri are quickly spoiling users with a much more natural voice interface.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

The Grocery Run

One of the first things we noticed about our test vehicle is that it doesn't offer a remote hatch. OK, we get it, first-world-problems and whatnot, but at $36,000, the missing power liftgate felt like an omission, especially when it's standard in the mid-level Toyota Venza XLE. However, there's a ton of cargo space behind that hatch, and a little bit of hidden storage under the floor, too. Buttons in the rear make folding the seatbacks a snap, although you have to put them up the old fashioned way. The load floor is a little high, but that's expected in this class of vehicle.

The Edge makes a good family hauler. While it's high off the ground, the cavernous rear seat makes it easy to insert and latch in car seats, or even three boosters side by side. The LATCH points were a little difficult to locate at first, but relatively easy to attach a car seat to, and the ample headroom means it's easy to cinch the little ones in snug and secure. While the Edge has huge blind spots, the backup camera and reverse sensors made getting out of tight spots a snap, and the cross-path detection actually worked as advertised, alerting us to a moron speeding through a parking lot before we could see him.

The Weekend Fun

Once you've made your peace with the way MyFord Touch wants to work, have your playlists selected, and have entered your destination, the Ford Edge makes a fine vessel for seeking weekend fun. As long as the roads are on the smooth side, you'll appreciate the engine's power, and the fuel economy, which stayed right around 23 mpg during our time with the Edge. With the audio system off, the Edge is a quiet runner, with the engine barely making a sound, and wind noise well controlled. Even with a full load of passengers, you'll be hard pressed to actually use up all the cargo space.

It's even fun. The steering strikes a good balance between lightness in parking lots and a good on-center feel when blasting down an interstate. When the road bends, the Edge reacts just as you'd want, neither jerking through turns because of too-quick steering, or feeling sluggish. The stiff suspension keeps the body motions in check on winding or undulating roads, and the six-speed automatic is a good match for the engine, quickly skipping down a gear or two to make the most of the turbocharged engine.

Summary

The ultimate question we always ask ourselves is, would we recommend this car to a friend? On one hand, there's a lot here to like. MyFord Touch, when it's working right, is pretty cool, and we'll admit the graphical displays flanking the speedometer just look neat. The Ford Edge is comfortable, quiet, roomy, powerful, and has plenty of cargo space, and so on.

But...but...MFT stopped working altogether once, and was buggy the rest of the time. For $36,000, couldn't Ford put leather on everything, and throw in a power liftgate? And what's with that buzzy rattle after we slammed the hatch? Not to mention the electronic "pop" sound that substituted for a tactile "click" on the touch-sensitive buttons.

We came to this conclusion: If a friend really had a thing for the Edge, we wouldn't try to talk them out of it. The Edge's strengths are inarguable, and contribute to this crossover's popularity. But if someone was on the fence, we'd recommend they make sure they check out all the alternatives first.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $36,410
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 21
EPA Highway: 30
EPA Combined: 24
Estimated Combined Range: 432 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Excellent

Notebook Quotes

"I like the engine. No, I love the engine. I think it works really well, and despite the fact it was getting 22 mpg with us when I drove it, that's still 5 mpg better than what we were doing in the V-6 Terrain. That's not bad for a two-ton, tall station wagon. Otherwise? I hated the Edge." -Jacob Brown, Associate Editor
"A lot of cars I feel are overpriced, and some that we drive are excellent values. The Edge seemed to merit every penny of its $36k price." -Matthew Askari, Associate Editor
"The interior is Spartan to a fault. It looks like it's a plastic mock-up rather than the real thing. I'm kinda creeped out by the lack of buttons." -Blake Z. Rong, Associate Editor
"The Edge is awash with various materials, from plastics of different textures to brushed aluminum, chrome, and fiberglass. Amazingly, they blended well into each other with the exception of the volume and fans speed knobs. Also, the steering wheel stood out, feeling too small and cheap for such a premium vehicle." -Joel Arellano, Associate Editor

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