Ford’s ST badge hails from Europe, where it’s adorned a couple of decades’ worth of Cougars, Pumas, Mondeos, Focuses and Fiestas.
In the U.S. we’ve danced with the Focus ST and Fiesta ST—but as of next year, those Ford cars won’t be sold anymore, as the company steps away from sedans and hatchbacks and puts its markers down on crossovers and SUVs.
Now it’s put its first ST badge on one of those crossover SUVs, and it’s a sign of good things to come.
What’s an ST, anyway?
In the universe of Ford vehicles, ST badges land on vehicles with a bit more power and a significantly better handling setup than their mainstream kin.
In the case of the 2019 Edge ST, it’s a step up from last year’s Edge Sport, which also drew on a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 for power. Last year it whooshed out 315 horsepower. (All other 2019 Edge crossovers tap a 2.0-liter turbo-4 for power.)
Here it’s massaged to 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, a mild power bump that Ford says can push the Edge ST to 60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds, versus 6.2 seconds in the former Edge Sport. That’s a fine stat for a chunky SUV that weighs more than 4,400 pounds, even if the V-6 doesn’t sound thrilled when it’s pressed into that duty, but more on that in a moment.
DON’T MISS: 2019 Ford Edge ST costs at least $43,350
The 8-speed automatic in charge of shifting power to all four wheels gets paddle shift controls that take over for the rotary shift dial found on the center console. That dial is no set-and-forget switch, because on the Edge ST, a Sport button in the center puts the crossover into an entirely different mood.
Tap the Sport button, and the Edge’s shift patterns hang longer in lower gear and generate more engine braking. The undistinguished V-6 groan gets amped up, processed, and broadcast back into the cabin to heighten the sensations of speed, and the transmission executes quicker upshifts and matches engine speeds on the way back down for smoother operation. Steering packs on a weightier feel, too.
Sport mode also gets a companion stability-control switch that toggles through four modes, including a traction-off option.
Edge STs also get standard 20-inch Hankook all-season tires or 21-inch all-season Contis. With a performance brake package ($2,695) the Edge ST adds on 21-inch, 265/40 Pirelli P Zero tires and 2-piston front, single-piston rear brakes with red-painted calipers.
2019 Ford Edge ST
We schussed the 2019 Edge ST through the same woody valleys outside of Salt Lake City that Olympians medaled in during the 2002 Winter Games.
We’ll give the crossover a bronze for a good show. It’s a mildly dressed-down Edge with significantly better road feel, but the silver and gold medalists in the five-seat SUV niche have strapping V-8 engines (Grand Cherokee) or deliriously balanced handling (X3) to go with their Olympic price tags.
The Edge ST does best when it doesn’t disturb what the standard Edge already does well. For a vehicle shod with 21-inch wheels on summer tires, our Edge ST tester offered up a very firm ride that didn’t fall apart over brittle roads and miles of pavement seams opened during Utah’s short road-repair season. It neatly avoids the usual choppy, thumpy ride of a late-in-model-life performance edition. The Edge ST’s steering takes a bit more time to appreciate; in Sport mode it’s leaden at low speeds, but at moderate speeds its heft creates a strong on-center feel that doesn’t lapse into massive bump-steer.
The transmission’s upgrades justify the effort, too. The 8-speed will tap out once it approaches redline, but unlike other Ford gearboxes, this one hangs on to lower gears and obeys paddle commands. It doesn’t bang off shifts with military-parade precision and swiftness, but it works well in concert with an engine that prefers to throw off low-end torque and avoid its upper reaches.
You’ll want to keep it quiet, though. The Edge ST has amplified engine sounds piped into its cabin, and the classic V-6 groan that’s passable in other models sounds auto-tuned (as it really is) in this performance edition. It doesn’t come off sharp or painful, it just has too much presence. Here’s a litmus test for any car company that wants to pump in fake or real noise into any vehicle: would you want to hear it off vinyl on a turntable through reference-grade headphones? Because that’s pretty close to what a modern crossover’s historically quiet cabin is.
2019 Ford Edge ST, 2018 Detroit auto show
The 2019 Ford Edge ST doesn’t dampen any of the crossover’s packaging appeal. It’s not the richest-looking interior for what can reach $54,000, but the Edge ST maintains the vast front-seat space—you can swing an arm between the door and a leg—and betters it with thickly bolstered sport seats.
The back seat’s the perfect slide-across height for medium-sized adults, and the Edge has excellent knee and foot room. With the panoramic sunroof, head room is tight for back-seat passengers, but the back seat rest reclines, and three can sit across for short trips, no worries. Storage is fine, but the center console in front is deep but not particularly wide: If you’re transporting a vase full of flowers on a daily basis, look no further.
Every 2019 Edge gets forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control as well as adaptive cruise control. Each also gets a meh-resolution touchscreen interface that sports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus USB ports.
The addition of the ST badge brings the aforementioned bigger wheels, as well as a wider grille, dual exhausts, and an array of blacked-out trim that burnishes off some of the weight of time. It still looks fresh, even if it’s not particularly young.
2019 Ford Edge ST
2019 Ford Edge ST
2019 Ford Edge ST
2019 Ford Edge ST
The bottom line
With the Edge ST, Ford has begun to probe how many drivers are willing to chuck their current notions of performance and transfer them to an SUV silhouette—and how much they’ll pay for it.
In a timeline of all past and present ST machines, the Edge disrupts the time-space continuum. There’s no turning back: Ford won’t be introducing new Focus and Fiesta badges in the U.S., but it does have a new Escape crossover and a new Explorer SUV ready to roll. The future for this two-letter badge definitely has a wagon form factor.
The ST badge never was a sea-change for any of its host vehicles; this is no nutso edition that blows the spec sheet out in all directions. That would be the job of an Edge RS. That would imply an AMG-like strategy, and that would make us think. Escape RS? Please tell us there’s someone who cares little enough about their career track to mock up an Explorer RS. That woman is a hero.
Do all that, and then we’ll really know what an ST is, and what it can do. And then we’ll know whether the $43,350 Edge ST is money down on a future of sporty SUVs—or if it’s considered payment in full.
Ford flew us to Utah and fed us exotically flavored doughnuts in between bouts of driving the 2019 Edge ST. Mochi: hard pass. S'mores? Aptly named.