One effect of rising fuel costs is that our tow vehicles are in hot pursuit of higher efficiency. Simply put, that means designers are aiming for lighter weight, smarter packaging, and a move away from stout axles and sturdy frames. The new Ford Edge perfectly embodies this trend, so to speak. In fact, to maximize both interior space and mileage, its body and chassis are a single welded unit. That begs the question: Are such vehicles up to the task of towing a boat? To find out, I hitched my 19' Checkmate for a run through Michigan with a few stops at selected launch ramps mixed in.
In essence, this handsome new Ford is a more affordable Explorer that trades some towing capacity - a factory-recommended maximum of 3,500 pounds - for a little more speed - an extra 3 to 4 mph. The Edge's spunky, 265-hp, sideways-mounted V-6 engine and six-speed automatic are standard. However, on-demand four-wheel drive costs $1,650 extra.
Around town, the Edge is lighter and quicker on its feet than traditional SUVs. When not towing, it scoots to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and corners crisply thanks to firm suspension settings. With 2,500 pounds in tow, the Edge moved out smartly, requiring only 12.1 seconds to accelerate to cruising speed. Taut spring rates and tight dampers helped hold the trailer securely in line through switchbacks and when winter cross winds huffed and puffed my rig. Other makers cram three rows of seats into a wagon this size. Ford's designers wisely resisted that urge. The result is an uncompromised second row that accommodates three passengers in real comfort. It's easy to fold the rear bench, but removing it entirely to create additional cargo space is a lengthy procedure requiring tools.
The traction available at the launch ramp was a surprise. In lieu of a low range, the Edge's six-speed automatic serves up a super-low first gear. Responding to a stab of the throttle, the Edge hustled my boat up and out of the lake without a hint of hesitation or wheel spin.
Engine 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 Net hp @ rpm 265 @ 6250
Net torque (lb-ft @ rpm)250 @ 4500
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Front suspension strut-type, coil springs
Rear suspension multilink independent, coil springs
Brakes (front/rear) disc/disc, ABS standard
Tires Continental Cross Contact LX P245/60SR-18
Wheelbase (in.) 111.2 Length (in.) 185.7 Width (in.) 87.1 Height (in.) 67.2
Curb weight (lbs.) 4,500
Towing capacity (lbs.) 3,500
Cargo capacity, (min/max (cu.ft.) 32.1/69.6
Fuel capacity (gal.) 20.0
0-60mph acceleration (w/o/w/ 2,500-lb. towed load, sec.) 7.7/12.1 30-60mph passing (w/o/w/ 2,500-lb. towed load, sec.) 5.7/8.7 60-0mph stopping distance (w/o/w/2,500-lb. towed load, ft.) 157/216
Observed towing fuel economy (mpg avg.) 10
Price (as tested) $36,850