The 2019 Ford Edge ST shows the softer side of Ford Performance's future, trading outright athleticism for rational practicality.
Mike Sutton • The inevitable result of Ford's move to jettison most passenger cars from its future line-up is that the Ford Performance sub-brand will have to instead start modifying the remaining range of crossovers, SUVs, and pickups.
The 2019 Edge is the first crossover to wear the ST badge that formerly denoted some of the sportiest compact and subcompact cars Ford ever offered in America.
In essence, the Edge ST is a mildly hotter version of the Edge Sport model that it replaces. Revised software lets its EcoBoost twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 produce 335 horsepower (250kW) and 380 lb-ft (515Nm) of torque—gains of 20 horses and 30 lb-ft—while a new eight-speed automatic replaces the previous six-speed unit. (All other Edges now feature a 250hp (186kW) 2.0-liter turbo inline-four.)
The ST's standard all-wheel-drive system can vary its torque split as traction demands, and it also can automatically disconnect drive to the rear for improved fuel efficiency—the ST's EPA estimates of 19 mpg (12.3L/100km) city and 26 (9L/100km) highway are both 2 mpg better than the previous Edge Sport's.
EDITOR'S NOTE: You're reading a story by American title Car and Driver. We're bringing you a handful of C/D stories each month, focused on vehicles we've either not yet driven, or models not offered in Australia. Where appropriate, we'll add metric measurements for reference, but grammar and terminology will otherwise remain unchanged.
Ford's claim that the ST can run from zero to 60 mph (0-97km/h) in less than six seconds seems credible, if not conservative, given that a 2015 Edge Sport we tested managed to do so in 5.6.
That's adequately quick for a two-plus-ton SUV that moves on waves of easy-going torque; the V6's horsepower peaks at just 5500rpm and the transmission upshifts on its own shortly thereafter, even when using the wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual selection.
The Edge ST's lazy powerband is short on spunk yet befits its mainstream mission. The new transmission shifts smoothly and unobtrusively in its normal D mode. Pressing the S button on the console-mounted shift dial calls up more aggressive shift mapping that holds gears longer, but the gearbox never feels hustled in its ratio swaps.
Sport mode also adds a digital tachometer to the instrument cluster, enlivens the throttle response, and pipes additional engine noise into the cabin through the stereo speakers, which turns into a low, flat-pitched drone after a short while.
To rise above the dynamics of the competent, if less-than-engaging base Edge, the Edge ST gets suspension upgrades that include spring rates that are increased by 12 percent in front and 20 percent at the rear versus the Sport, with a 60-percent boost in roll stiffness via beefier anti-roll bars.
The ST carries over the Edge's standard strut front suspension but adds monotube dampers to the rear multi-link setup in place of twin-tube units.
Body motions were nicely controlled during our mountain-road and autocross antics, with brake-based torque vectoring aiding the ST's agility (there’s no rear torque vectoring).
Ride quality is commendably smooth even on the optional 21-inch wheels (20s are standard). While Ford Performance has tuned the ST's steering effort slightly to the heavy side, the action is reasonably quick and enriched with some feedback.
The Edge ST is not a leash-tugging terrier like the effervescent Fiesta ST, but it will play along if you feel the urge.
To that end, there are additional coolers for the transmission and the all-wheel-drive system's power take-off unit, as well as an optional $2695 (AU$3730) ST Performance Brake package, which adds upgraded 13.6-inch front brake rotors (the ST's 12.4-inch rear discs carry over), red-painted calipers with performance brake pads, and 21-inch wheels wrapped with Pirelli P Zero summer tires (sized 265/40R-21 versus the stock 245/50R-20 all-season rubber).
The ST's stability-control system can be partially defeated and gains a more lenient ESC Sport setting, but the electronic nannies will still step in before any powerslides occur.
For the rather modest entry price of $43,350 (AU$60,005), additional revisions are limited to new front and rear bumpers, a smattering of ST badges inside and out, and plush 10-way power-adjustable front sport seats with supportive side bolsters and microsuede inserts.
Standard features are many, including full-LED lighting, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system.
Pricing can top $50K (AU$69,200) with all the extras, such as Ford's Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite of active-safety systems (navigation, adaptive cruise control with lane-centering and stop-and-go capability, and Ford's evasive steering assist), although the ST's mostly untouched instrument panel and center stack can look rather old-fashioned next to more modern big-screen setups.
The Edge ST stands out most for its impressive balance as a sporty yet comfortable midsizer that is slightly less focused athletically than premium-grade performance SUVs but also considerably less costly when option-checking restraint is exercised.
Such a suburban-friendly steed may appeal to the Focus ST driver who seeks a more rational upgrade, even if it's short on the charmingly adolescent fervor we've come to expect from Ford's ST badge.
As confirmed some time ago now, Australia will receive only one powertrain for the Endura (our market's name for the Edge), in the form of a 140kW/400Nm diesel. You can read pricing and specs for that model here.
You can also catch our earlier review of a more pedestrian, pre-facelift variant of the Edge, right here. As for an Australian-market review, that will come in December.