Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 21, 2020
What’s in a badge? Certainly there’s more to it than a trail mix of letters and numbers. AMG symbolizes the pinnacle of Mercedes engineering and their one-man, one-engine philosophy, M gives us euphoric feelings of high-strung inline-sixes and their howling exhausts, and RS has us conflicted between a Ford Focus or an Audi TT. Fact of the matter is, badges are important, but what’s more critical is the product that automakers slap those badges onto.
This is the Ford Edge ST. Ford has used the ST badge before on their performance-oriented vehicles like the Fiesta ST and Focus ST, and we adored those pocket rocket hatchbacks. They drove brilliantly, handled like an old-school charmer, and gave us smiles when carving up empty back roads. But Ford has now decided to take that highly-regarded ST badge and plaster it onto their crossover lineup. Even the three-row Explorer now comes with an ST variant.
But just like how you wouldn’t give a five-star rating on Yelp if your food came late and cold, you don’t put an ST badge on a crossover that doesn’t drive with emotion or excitement. That’s our gripe with the Edge ST. It’s simply just a re-badged and slightly revised Edge Sport. No matter how butch or macho Ford has made the sheetmetal, there’s not enough going for it dynamically for us to recommend it over its better driving competitors like the Honda Passport or Chevrolet Blazer. Note that even though the Honda and Chevy are down on power and don’t even have a fancy pancy badge, they simply drive better with a superior chassis and a more authentic and efficient powertrain.
Which is not to say the Edge ST is a slow and dim-witted SUV. Its twin-turbo 2.7-litre V6 engine is potent and delivers a punchy 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque through a new 8-speed automatic transmission, but the power delivery is lazy, peaking at a measly 5,500 rpm, the transmission can never make up its mind on gearing, and though the AWD system sends the majority of torque to the rear axle for a sportier feel, we don’t sense any eagerness to rotate. The ST is reasonably quick in a straight line but its substantial weight bogs it down from taking home any awards. Even with the S button on the gear dial that summons more aggressive shift mapping, pipes in more exhaust noise through the speakers, and livens up the throttle response, it does little to stimulate any driver emotion. The ST is equipped with aggressive trapezoidal exhaust outlets out back but the resulting exhaust note is uninspiring and frankly embarrassing for anything with the ST badge. It’s more of a whimpering drone that goes up in volume the more you press the pedal. Ford is also keen to note that these power figures are only with 93-octane fuel, and I personally do not know anyone willing to spend that extra money on their Ford performance SUV, if you can even call it that. Focus RS, fine, but their family hauling Edge ST that is mainly assigned for errand duties? Really? It’s not even fuel-efficient either - we averaged a measly 13.0 L/100km over an equal mix of city and highway driving.
One aspect I do enjoy is the steering, as it exhibits heavy and linear build up in rotation. It never falters to communicate what the front wheels are doing, and offers a direct lifeline into the chassis. Most SUVs have a hard time pulling this off, but they’ve nailed it here. It’s just too bad that even with the ST’s uprated spring rates and increased roll stiffness, you don’t get the sense that its body motions are well controlled nor does it elevate any sense of nimbleness. The Edge ST errs on the rougher riding side of the spectrum too, and though it shrugs off broken pavement with poise, the cheaper and more casual Edge models seem to handle undulations a bit better.
The interior is not a bad place to spend time in. The ST comes with upgraded 10-way adjustable sports seats with microsuede inserts and massive thigh bolsters that keep you nice and snug during spirited drives. The bolstering is fantastic and the headrest is plush, but the downside is that getting in and out of them can be tricky, like climbing over a mountain peak that always tries to snuggle its way in between your legs. The touchscreen infotainment unit is lagging behind the times but it’s easy to use and quick to respond to inputs. While there is a dedicated heated seat button, we did find it aggravating how you need to dive into the menus and click three buttons before you can turn on the heated steering wheel. The paddle shifters feel cheap like they’re about to fall off, and the low-rent black plastics do little to convince us there’s anything upscale to be found. Ford could learn a thing or two from Kia and Hyundai - the Koreans are killing it with their gorgeous materials and downstream prices.
Personally I think the Edge ST would have done better with the 3.0L twin-turbo V6 sourced from the Explorer ST and Lincoln Aviator. The 400 horses would make this a sleeper rocket but then again, I don't think the newfound power would overshadow the cheap materials, lethargic gearbox tuning, and busy ride. This ST is a lazy upgrade from a mix of leftover materials that do little to elevate the driving experience, and instead gives Ford an easy entrance to performance credentials and a slice of the market. Sadly, this muscular Edge does not live up to the ST standards that had us so in love with the Fiesta and Focus iterations. They have the right mind set but the execution is poor and it ultimately fails to deliver a meaningful and exciting product. It was better off as the Ford Edge Sport. Just don’t call it an ST.
Model: 2020 Ford Edge ST
Paint Type: Ford Performance Blue
Base Price: $48,899
Price as Tested: $54,699
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,796 / 1,928 / 1,736
Engine: 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 335 hp @ 5,550 rpm
Torque: 380 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.0
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.5 / 9.2 / 11.0