Although only 4 years old, the Edge is an important enough model for Ford that in its second generation, as the 2011 Ford Edge, it serves as a showcase for an innovative interior interface. Not only is the instrument cluster configurable, the center stack uses a touch panel for audio and climate controls.
But the 2011 Edge gets more than just a new dashboard; this model sees the introduction of three new engines along with revised body styling. Ford sent us the highest trim model, the Sport with all-wheel drive.
As a crossover, the Edge includes seating for five plus an ample cargo area. The styling update for the 2011 model is not radical. The Edge retains its bulky, squat shape, but gets a more curvy front-end and smoother metal for the sides and rear pillars. White LED parking light strips set into the front fascia make a nice addition to the car.
In our Sport trim model, Ford's three-bar grille is black instead of chrome, and a big air duct sits below the grille. As an unexpected bonus, this car rode on 22-inch wheels, standard on the Sport.
The most visible update is the dashboard. Building on the design of the instrument cluster in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the 2011 Edge includes MyFord Touch, consisting of two LCDs to either side of the speedometer and a big LCD on the center stack. The LCD to the left of the speedometer shows specific car information, such as the tachometer, fuel economy, and all-wheel-drive torque distribution. The right LCD shows audio, navigation, phone, and climate control information.
Using the directional button on the left steering-wheel spoke, we found it very easy to cycle through the different vehicle information displays. After a little tweaking, we found our preferred configuration, showing the fuel and tach gauges as vertical bar meters, with fuel economy statistics next to them.
Similarly, it was very easy to cycle through the different displays on the right side using identical, right-steering-wheel-spoke controls. To make it easier to register information at a glance, Ford color codes the screens, using green for navigation, red for audio, yellow for the phone, and blue for climate control.
The steering-wheel button gave us limited control over the various functions. For example, we could control the temperature on the climate control screen, or change audio sources on the audio screen, but we could not browse a connected iPod's library or change the fan speed.
As the 2011 Edge comes with Ford's Sync system, we could control many of the car's infotainment functions through voice command. With an iPod connected to the car's USB port, we could play music merely by saying the name of an artist or album, and dial phone numbers by saying the name of a contact in our paired Bluetooth phone.
The Touch part of the MyFord Touch system is the 8-inch screen on the center stack, which uses a new interface design for Ford's cabin electronics. Like the right-hand instrument cluster display, the main screen identifies its main functions by color: red for audio, yellow for phone, blue for climate, and green for navigation.
A main menu shows basic information for each application in its own quadrant, and touch areas at each corner let us view full information on the screen. The design looks good and is very usable, with big, easily understood buttons. We could quickly dig through our paired phone's contact list or find Sirius Satellite Radio stations. Our only complaint is that the system seemed a little sluggish as we browsed the music library on a connected iPod.
Chucking the hard-drive-based navigation system it used previously, Ford offers an SD-card-based system in the Edge, but our car was not configured for it. Instead, the green navigation screen had a button to activate Sync's Traffic, Directions, and Information service, a voice command system that operates through a Bluetooth paired phone to dial a server at a data center.
Although the four-color touch-screen interface is new for Ford, Audi has been using a similar design for years in its MMI, complete with a very useful instrument cluster display. But unique in the Edge is the center panel that comes with the Sony premium audio system. This panel uses backlit touch buttons with haptic feedback for its audio and climate controls, with a large volume dial in the middle. It looks very cool, but we did notice that it is easy to accidentally activate a button by brushing against it.