It was sheer, serendipitous luck that two members of the Jalopnik B-team — the cunning Mike Austin and handsome Jonny Lieberman — ended up at the exact same press junket launching for the 2007 Ford Edge. [Gallery] Hell, they wound up in the same car.
Loverman: We figured we'd seize this opportunity to highlight each other's personal flaws (mostly drunken flatulence), take Jalopnik readers along on a typical press event, and, in the process, review the Ford Edge. After all, Ford flew us out to San Francisco, put us up in the triple-platinum pimp fantastic St. Regis hotel, paid for our meals and threw decent booze down our throats. Plus, we had breakfast in SFMOMA. Er, I did. Austin was, uh, praying.
First of all, Mr. Austin, it is always very cool to meet another member of the "Swedish Mafia." Especially after seeing our names together in lights for so long. But let's talk Edge. Ford was beating us about the head with the fact that they are convinced the crossover market is going to explode in the coming years, and they are ready. Each time the PR folks repeated their mantra, "We have the right product, in the right market, at the right time," I was reminded of George C. Scott's Patton, frothing, "I have precisely the right instrument at precisely the right moment of history in exactly the right place." General Patton of course went on to win the war. I'm not so sure about the Edge.
Austin: It's true that the Edge is fashionably late to a party already crowded with Nissan Muranos and Toyota Highlanders, but it looks like Ford has shown up with the equivalent of six hot chicks (or six hot dudes, if that's how you roll) and a keg of beer. The Edge sports best-in-class power along with best-in-class acceleration, the only giant sunroof of the bunch, reclining rear seats with one-touch folding, and six standard airbags. Before you get too curious, "class" here means non-luxury mid-size SUVs, so the Lexus RX (which dominates the "mid-size luxury SUV" class) and Infiniti FX are not competitors. Neither is the smaller Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRV. Which means, as far as I can tell, the rest of the class is the Nissan Murano and the Toyota Highlander, both of which are getting old. That's not to say the Edge doesn't have the, uh, edge, but it is aiming at easy targets.
Loverman: That, plus the Toyota Highlander is duller than a wall. The Edge on the other hand, is as close to "Bold" design-wise as Ford has ever come. In my opinion, I think polarizing designs are good things, as the average person just doesn't sit around like we do thinking about how cars ought to look all the live long day. You got to punch them in the guts. Which the Edge — like Robocop's Taurus did twenty-years ago — does in fact do. Especially when done up in Blazing Copper Metallic. I really do like the orange Edge much more so than the gray one and red one we drove. The other question though, is whether or not CUVs - sedan-based SUV-looking trucklettes - are actually going to sell in the huge, profit-laden numbers FoMoCo is hoping they will.
Austin: I'm going to guess that the CUV segment will post big numbers. I've had too many conversations where too many people tell me they like to sit up high and that they "need" AWD to question the potential of crossovers. As with the whole CUV segment, the mid-level height of the edge makes it easy to get in and out of — an important feature for old people and diminutive females. Of course, the added height doesn't help the Edge dynamically.
Loverman: You are 100% right, — though sitting up high makes no sense to me and AWD is very rarely if ever "needed," especially in a family car — people crave these features like they crave Republicans: they think they're safer. But by turning the vehicle into a highchair you're tacking on about 500lbs. of unnecessary pork, more wear and tear on tires and brakes, longer stopping distances, and ultimately a higher center of gravity, which can lead to the dreaded rollover. That said, the traction and stability nannies on the Edge are turned up Tufnel style (to 11). Remember on the way back to San Francisco when I was driving and we were plunging down that hill, and then the road went up and to the right? I floored it to climb the ascent and screech! on came the stoppers even though I had the gas pedal to the floor. Ford did a nice job making sure the average person ain't going to flip this puppy over.
Austin: Ford also did a nice job of making sure the average person ain't going to get tired turning the wheel. The steering is almost one-finger light. The suspension is soft as well, but in a good way. The Edge doesn't wallow in turns and soaks up bumps without bounding all over the road. So the Edge isn't quite as edgy as the name would imply — and nowhere near as edgy as Pizza Hut's The Edge Pizza — but so what? The people that crave one will love the Edge, and it looks like this Ford is good enough to run a Jihad on the rest of the segment.
Loverman: Still, FoMoCo did call it "the Edge," and as you point out the Edge is anything but. Unless you count the grill, which folks in Peoria are sure to find challenging.
Austin: Well, let me back up a little bit. The styling of the Edge is good, but I wouldn't say the profile or the design brief is anything unorthodox. And the only challenge the folks in Peroria are getting is whatever you were yelling about at dinner. I was too drunk to pay attention.
Loverman: I believe I was yelling, "FUCK PEORIA!! FUCK PEORIA!!" at some of Ford's brand managers as they explained to me why the similarly named Freestyle is so bland looking. But hey, Ford was the one who provided the three (or so) gin-martinis gratis, not me. And, uh, dude, you may have been drunk at dinner, but you were way drunker at 7:00 am the next morning. Which was actually quite impressive. Anyhow, I'm about two-thirds certain the Edge will succeed.
(With apologies to the Lienert cartel.)