In the interest of pushing the technological edge, Ford has not been above taking risks. Collaborating with Microsoft on Sync turned out well. The initial release of MyFord Touch, not so much.
And now we have the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, a direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter in the relatively large 2012 Ford Edge. Much could have gone wrong with that formulation. The engine might not have made enough power to push the Edge's 4,000 pounds convincingly. Or the fuel economy might have been no better than Ford's 3.5-liter V-6.
But in this instance, fortune favored the bold. I found even a gentle tap on the accelerator made the 2012 Edge step lively. And when I got around to flooring it, all hell broke loose, or at least all heck. The front wheels chirped and there was a hint of torque steer as the Edge made its attempt at the sound barrier.
From the engine's specs, it appears Ford didn't have much to worry about. The four-cylinder EcoBoost's 240 horsepower is a respectable number, but more important for acceleration is the torque number, 270 pound-feet. That compares with only 253 pound-feet from the V-6 available in the Edge, although that engine boasts a higher horsepower number.
Fuel economy did not disappoint, either. The EPA testing put the Edge EcoBoost at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. In a mix of city and freeway driving, I saw 25.2 mpg.
As for the Edge itself, it seems the unlikeliest car to get a high-tech turbocharged 2-liter. Officially termed by Ford a crossover, as opposed to the Escape SUV with its similar seating configuration, the Edge has always reminded me of a brick or a block of wood. Its thick and solid-looking body seems carved from a block by a lazy whittler, who put his best effort into taking out the chunk in front of the windshield.
The Edge got an update recently, but still sports a three-bar grille. Judging from the new Escape and Fusion models Ford brought to the auto shows, the Edge needs another style update to keep up with the factory uniform.
One thing the Edge gained from the last update was the MyFord Touch system, which currently has its pros and serious cons. There is nothing at all wrong with the instrument cluster portion of the system, which puts a configurable LCD on each side of the speedometer. The left screen shows vehicle information, from fuel economy to a virtual tachometer, which the driver can change by thumbing a directional pad on the steering-wheel spoke.
The right LCD shows infotainment system screens, which the driver has limited control of with using the steering-wheel D-pad. I tended to leave it on the audio system screen, showing the currently playing track. But the right-side LCD can also show phone, navigation, and climate controls.
Then we have the center touch screen, where the trouble begins. As I found while testing this system last year, the information display on the various screens is chaotic, but most frustrating are the slow response times from the touch screen. Even when I simply touched the shuffle button on the audio screen, the response was delayed.
But this is a new era for cars, in which dashboard software can be updated. Ford demonstrated an update to MyFord Touch late last year, which addresses touch-screen response times and the graphic layout. Owners of cars with the MyFord Touch system will be able to update the system themselves or bring it to a dealer.