2019 Ford Edge ST first drive review: Down payment on the future

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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

2019 Ford Edge ST

Canyon chasseur

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.

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