Ford Executive Vice President of Marketing Jim Farley says he knows what happened to the once-popular personal luxury coupe market in the US: those drivers are now buying crossover SUVs like the Ford Edge instead.
This is relevant to the development of the newest version of the Edge because it indicates a high degree of customer interest in luxury and comfort amenities in such vehicles. So the Edge engineering team sought to improve the vehicle’s refinement while adding a new range-topping Titanium trim level that decks the Edge out in maximum finery.
For model year 2015, the Edge moves from the old to current Fusion platform, a change that brings a 26% increase in bending stiffness and a 16% improvement in torsional rigidity thanks to increased use of high-strength steel.
The front suspension continues with a MacPherson strut arrangement, but the rear suspension is upgraded to a multilink layout in place of the previous twist beam unit for improved ride and handling. This layout is better at keeping the tires’ contact patches in proper contact with the ground, explained Chief Program Engineer J.D. Shanahan.
Additionally, the new rear suspension’s geometry provides for wheel recession in response to bumps, so it moves backward to soften the blow rather than keeping its place, or worse, swinging forward to exaggerate the impact as happens when suspension geometry creates precession, he said.
The new model is 3.9 in (99 mm) longer and stretches an additional 1 in (25 mm) between its axles for a slight increase in wheelbase. The Edge Sport features 10% thicker springs coils front and rear, 15% stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars, and larger-diameter rear monotube shock absorbers.
Perhaps most significantly, the Sport includes a new Takata Corp.-supplied variable-ratio steering system. Unlike those systems that are built into the steering rack, and potentially introduce excess compliance to the steering response, the Edge uses a geared system that is built into the hub of the steering wheel. A tiny electric motor increases or decreases the response sent to the steering column based on input from the vehicle’s sensors about how the car is being driven, accelerating response to a racy 10:1 ratio in sporty driving and slowing it for steady highway cruising.
In applications for trucks, the system can adjust the ratio to as much as 20:1, though the Edge never slows the response that much, according to engineer Rob Mrozek. Engineers have burned the midnight oil ensuring that the system’s response is intuitive to drivers, rather than surprising them with unwanted changes. “If you don’t spend enough time on motor controls you are going to have problems like lag,” Mrozek explained. “”We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time tuning the motor controls.”
Takata was able to package the variable steering components inside the steering wheel hub because of its development of a vacuum-folded airbag that is also packaged in the steering wheel, Mrozek pointed out. The airbag’s compact size provided the needed space for the variable steering hardware.
The variable steering system also communicates with the Continental Automotive Systems-supplied electronic stability control system and rollover-prevention system. While it does not actively steer the Edge in response to emergencies, it will try to minimize destabilizing inputs from the driver.
The Edge debuts Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine, an all-new 2.0-L four-cylinder unit with a twin-scroll turbo and direct fuel injection that produces an estimated 245 hp (183 kW) and 270 lb·ft (366 N·m). In addition to improving the Edge’s efficiency, it also permits all-wheel-drive and a 3500-lb (1600-kg) tow rating for this fuel-sipping base engine.
The engine has a lower mass than the old 2.0 EcoBoost thanks to a lighter engine block casting, an aluminum balance shaft assembly, lighter pistons, and an integrated exhaust manifold.
The head casting pairs the outlets for the number two and three cylinders together in the integrated exhaust manifold because doing so helps keep the turbo spinning at high speed more of the time, according to four-cylinder engine program manager Scott Makowski. He terms the new fuel injectors “a critical piece,” because their improved fuel atomization allowed an increase in compression ratio from 9.3:1 to 9.7:1.
A stop/start system will also be available for better urban fuel economy. While the system uses a heavy-duty version of a conventional starter, hardened ring gear, and a suitably upgraded battery to withstand the strain of frequent restarts, Ford’s powertrain engineers worked to make these restarts less obtrusive to customers.
“This needs to be better than your traditional key start,” Makowski acknowledged. The engine management system can smooth restarts by stopping the engine in an ideal position. While the Edge’s system cannot stop the engine precisely like a belt-alternator system can, the engine management system can stop it within about 15 degrees of its intended target, which is close enough to make a difference in the quality of restarts, he said.
The mid-level engine in the Edge is the same normally aspired 3.5-L V6 engine as before, and the top level powerplant is the 2.7-L twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost that was introduced with the F-150. Power for the 2.7 L will top 300 hp (224 kW), but an official rating for the Edge isn’t yet available.
Edge Sport will use active noise cancellation in the cabin to refine the sound of the 2.7-L engine, while Titanium trim level models include acoustic side glass in the doors for reduced cabin noise.
All three engines will use the same six-speed automatic transmission as the outgoing Edge, and the available all-wheel drive system can now send 100% of the power to either the front or rear wheels as needed, with no input from the driver.
Other new details include active grille shutters on some models for reduced aerodynamic drag and an innovative front-passenger’s knee airbag that inflates an injection-molded plastic bladder between the inner and outer glove box door panels to provide a cushion during a collision.
The Edge also gains the inflatable rear seat belts seen originally on the Explorer.
The MyFord Touch control system for infotainment and climate control sees improvements for 2015, with physical buttons lining both sides of the center stack, restoring some familiar functions to simple buttons rather than capacitive touch controls.
The 2015 Edge is expected to reach customers early in 2015.