BY RON SESSIONS, Contributing Editor These days, minivan-avoiders far outnumber…
We ventured to sunny Arizona for a welcome reprieve from the harsh East Coast winter to drive Ford’s new-for-2015 mid-size utility vehicle.
Ford focuses on tech for its 2015 Edge
Ford has been leading the way among everyday car brands in bringing affordable technologies to its full suite of models. For under $40,000 decked out, here are just a few of our favorite new tech features on the 2015 Ford Edge:
First-ever perpendicular park assist: Hate backing into parking spaces? Not to worry. This first-ever feature rolling out on the 2015 Edge will help you find a parking spot on either the left or right side and then patiently guide you (in reverse) into that space. The only downside of this feature? Fewer YouTube videos featuring 100-point turns of really bad parkers.
180-degree front camera: Nested beneath the blue oval, this camera gives the driver an excellent front view on-command (so long as the car isn’t in motion). Think of all the times you’ve tried to turn left at a stop sign but cars parked along the street’s edge block your ability to see oncoming traffic. With a tap of the camera icon button just above the CD player, you get a 180-degree peripheral view. It even comes with a handy wash feature that can be activated when spraying your windshield.
Latest SYNC technology: The newest SYNC with MyFord Touch interface is now available on more models, and it comes standard on the Standard and Titanium trims.
Lane Keep Assist: Drifting into your neighbor’s lane? This technology will guide the steering wheel back in the correct direction. The side sensors on the vehicle detect where the car should be “centered”, helping to keep those care-free drifters, we mean drivers, in check.
Hands-free Liftgate: You’re familiar with the “kick to open” method introduced by Ford’s Escape a few years back. But now, Ford has you covered with both open AND close features at the swing of a leg.
Appealing to both current and future Edge buyers
We spoke with Ford’s product communications manager in charge of predicting future technology product trends and availability, John Goncalves (said like “solve-ez”).
The top priorities for Edge buyers? Design, aerodynamics and technology that makes sense, says Goncalves.
The team’s new philosophy for Edge meant making the car more refined inside and out. And more refined it is. The exterior is less bulky while the interior design is eons improved over the outgoing model.
Compact utility sales leader
Since its launch in 2007, the Ford Edge has been a segment leader with an average of 120,000 units sold annually. These figures beat out the Edge’s stiffest competition from Kia, Hyundai and Nissan. And with the compact/crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment accounting for nearly one-third of all U.S. light vehicle sales, this isn’t a segment that’s going to get any less cut-throat.
Luckily for Ford, buyers coming to shop for an Edge already have a favorable view of the medium-size utility vehicle–60 percent of them, to be exact–making conquests fairly easy for the brand. Goncalves told us that of the 35 percent conquest sales of the 2014 Ford Edge, 17 percent were from luxury brands.
Lead interior designer Hak Soo Ha shared with us the details and improvements that went into livening up the inside of Ford’s newest Edge. The differences really are vast in such a brief time. Ford improved functionality of the in-door storage, including a water bottle holder that is flush with the door. The armrest has been extended to align with the full length of the passenger’s arm, providing comfortable support with soft-touch plastics and leather-stitched materials.
Some might think the Edge skews female, labeling it the perfect mommy-mobile, but it’s actually a 50/50 split between men and women buyers. The Sport package, with its 2.7-liter engine is likely more desirable for male drivers, while the 2.0-liter twin-scroll four-cylinder that comes standard on 2016 models will get the job done for the majority of customers.
Consideration for the consumer’s preferences and attention to detail stopped nowhere with the 2015 Edge. For example, the door handles on the inside leave plenty of “wrap around” room for a comfortable grip by a woman who has longer nails. (Our preference would be to ditch the full handle and leave a small compartment to keep the car key, house keys, or your phone in the door.)
Product teams at car manufacturers spend three to four years, sometimes more, developing future vehicles, which takes an insane amount of market research, predictive data, and patience.
Kevin George, who led the Edge’s exterior design team, shared with us the importance of his team striking a balance between keeping the traditional Edge design cues and freshening up its look to have a more modern, svelte physique.
“Sometimes it’s more about the nameplate than the brand,” said Kevin George, lead exterior designer for the 2015 Ford Edge, on the importance of staying true to Edge’s strengths.
“We just started carving the clay door panels,” George added. “After about 80 pounds of clay was lying on the ground, we scanned the model and sent it to our engineers to see if what we had done could be made.”
As evidenced in the photos, Ford’s engineering team was able to make George’s vision work.
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