Future Cars: Treading New Territory with Ford’s Global 2015 Edge CUV

The Crossover and SUV markets have yielded many automakers much success. In my mind, vehicles like the 1st-generation Range Rover, Jeep Cherokee and Ford Explorer have paved the way for a vast array of weird and wonderful all-terrain options. Today, you can basically specify what size and shape bush-basher one so desires (admittedly some are rather useless off the beaten track); from BMW’s coupe-like X6 and Buick’s compact Encore to Cadillac’s hulking great Escalade ESV – there’s a niche for everyone. One of the more popular categories is the mid-size crossover segment. Ford’s entrant in this arena is the Edge – a handsomely styled CUV that’s positioned between the smaller Escape and larger Explorer siblings. However, like most products, its model cycle is ending and an all-new version is just around the corner – and this time it goes global. Design: Styling of the out-going version has been rather well received, yet was relatively timid – asides from the bold, three-bar chrome grille. Ford’s next installment needs to appeal to a greater global audience; hence, the need for a design statement that’s much more expressive. The 2015 redesign brings in Ford’s post-kinetic design language that embodies straighter character lines and deeper sheet metal folds. Viewing from the side reveals a profile much more hatch-back like than traditional SUV; this is exaggerated by the small and angular rear quarter windows, rounded D-pillar and short overhangs. The front-end treatment will be familiar to current Edge owners – so cue the dominant, 3-bar chromed grille; yet this time it’s  trapezoidal-fashioned to fit in with Ford’s most recent offerings.  Interior: While we’ve yet to catch glimpse of the next Edge’s interior; look to Ford’s more recent S-Max concept for design pointers. Expect simpler styling and premium materials as opposed the angular and cluttered interiors seen in the current Escape, Focus and Fiesta models.  Technophiles will be catered for with Ford’s vast array of infotainment options; MyFord Touch will be updated with a better user interface (more physical buttons) and quicker response times. Gadgets like the Escape’s hands-free tailgate will appear, and potentially a more advanced park-assist program may make a debut too. Safety: Currently, the Edge scores good ratings in both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests. However, the latter has recently introduced the more stringent small-overlap test – something that Ford will want to ace by using a redesigned front-end structure and stronger hydro-formed steel components.  Active safety systems will be of current fare; so cue Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid and Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross-Traffic Alert. What isn’t known, is if Ford’s recently-revealed Obstacle Avoidance Program will make an appearance – a clever bit of kit that scans the roadway ahead for gaps left or right of a stopped obstacle and autonomously steers around the hazard if the driver doesn’t react to an audible chime.  What Powers It: We know members of the EcoBoost family will sit under the hood; what isn’t 100% apparent, is if a V6 variant will still be on the cards – although there is rumor that Ford’s new ‘Nano’ 2.7-Liter V6 may be up for consideration. Regardless, any performance and economy concerns should be easily addressed with the tried-and-proven 2.0-Liter four-cylinder mills found in other Ford products. European and Asia-Pacific markets will likely have diesel-powered options. Whether or not a Hybrid version will ever see the light of day remains to be seen. Handling: The 2015 Edge rides on the same global CD4 platform that underpins the Fusion/Mondeo, so expect ride and handling to be up there with best in class. MacPherson struts and a new multi-link rear suspension will keep the body-roll and ride quality in-check. Although if things really do get out of shape – the stability control program with its Torque Vectoring component will take the fuss out of emergency maneuvers.  Market Positioning: As a mid-size crossover, the Edge will do battle against the capable GMC Terrain, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano to name a few. It’s also worth noting that the 2015 Edge will form the bases for Lincoln’s next MKX crossover and replace the long-serving Ford Territory SUV in Australia (the latter, along with the iconic Ford Falcon will cease production down under in 2016). Expect the Edge to be officially revealed later this year or early next year as a MY2015 entrant, and to be built at Ford’s Oakville plant in Ontario, Canada. Overall, the next Ford Edge is shaping up to be rather compelling piece of kit with strong global underpinnings and athletic styling to do battle in a vast, automotive cash-cow orientated market. Although one must wonder where Ford’s designers got their inspiration for that front grille – Toyota Highlander anyone? Let us know what you think of it in the comments section below.By Josh Byrnes Photo Renderings Copyright: Carscoops / Josh Byrnes