An inevitable result of Ford's move to jettison most passenger cars from its future lineup is that the Ford Performance sub-brand will have to instead start modifying the remaining range of crossovers, SUVs, and pickups. The 2019 Ford 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 the United States.
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 V-6 produce 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft 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 250-hp turbo 2.0-liter inline-four.) The ST's standard all-wheel-drive system can vary its torque split as traction demands, and it can automatically disconnect drive to the rear for improved fuel efficiency—the ST's EPA estimates of 19 mpg city and 26 highway are both 2 mpg better than the previous Edge Sport's. While the lead-footed 18 mpg we averaged with the ST isn't that impressive, it is also 2 mpg better than the 2015 Sport managed while in our hands.
Power from Ford's turbo V-6 peaks at just 5500 rpm, and the transmission upshifts on its own shortly thereafter, even when using the wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual selection. At the test track, the ST ran to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 14.3 at 98 mph, which is reasonably quick for a 4597-pound SUV that moves on waves of easy-going torque—that is, until you realize a 2015 Edge Sport we tested hit the same marks in 5.6 and 14.2 seconds (with the same trap speed), thanks in part to weighing some 160 pounds less.
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 multilink setup in place of twin-tube units.
Body motions are nicely controlled during spirited drives down twisty, challenging roads, 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 ST Performance Brake package as was fitted to our test vehicle: 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 (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. Chalk up most of our ST's respectable lateral grip (0.89 g) and 161-foot stop from 70 mph braking ability to the sticky P Zeroes; the previous Sport, shod with similarly sized 21-inch all seasons, managed only 0.83 g and a 176-foot stop.
For the rather modest entry price of $43,350, 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 climb quickly with all the extras, although the ST's mostly untouched instrument panel and center stack can look rather old-fashioned next to more modern big-screen setups. Including the upgraded brake package, our example stickered for $52,125 with the addition of the $5585 401A Equipment Group (navigation, adaptive cruise control, adaptive LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, evasive steering assist, active parking assist, and more) and the $495 Cold Weather package (a heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, and front and rear floor liners).
The Edge ST stands out for its balance as a sporty yet comfortable mid-sizer that is slightly less athletic than premium-grade performance SUVs but also considerably less costly when option-checking restraint is exercised. Sure, we wish it were quicker and sportier still. But such a suburban-friendly steed may resonate with 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.