Ford has spent a lot of time and effort building out its lineup of high-end performance vehicles over the past decade, introducing the F-150 Raptor pickup truck, the Shelby Mustang GT350 and the Ford GT supercar.
For driving enthusiasts on a budget, though, the biggest news was the arrival of the Focus ST and Fiesta ST. A decade after the departure of the SVT Focus, Ford's original sporty version of the Focus short for "special vehicle team," Ford is offering an accessible performance brand for its small cars again.
But now, the company doesn't have much interest in building compact cars. Despite rave reviews and a strong fan base, the Focus ST and Fiesta ST won't see another generation on our shores. To keep the brand of enthusiast-oriented vehicles alive, Ford's offering ST versions of some SUVs.
The first SUV to get the ST treatment, short for sport technology, is the Edge ST. The next one, the Explorer ST, is due later this year. While we're hopeful that the all-new Explorer will do the ST name justice, we can't say that the Edge does.
Edge STs get a 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 that produces 335 horsepower. Make no mistake, the thing moves. It's quick off the line, even if the eight-speed transmission isn't the quickest box in the business.
As an outward sign of its purpose, the ST offers special styling outside, with an aggressive grill and the "Ford Performance Blue" hue our $49,430 tester wore. The interior is different from your standard-issue Edge, with some ST branding and suede-cloth inserts on the seats.
You also don't have to sacrifice luxury features when you opt for the ST trim. From the base price of the ST — $43,350 including delivery charges — our tester included about $6,000 in options that brought along wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, automatic parking assist and more. That was on top of the lengthy standard equipment list.
Ford's semi-autonomous driver assistance system gives the Edge ST a smooth ride, but it feels more like a luxury SUV than a performance vehicle. It's extremely quiet for the class and isn't easily rattled over bumps and undulations.
The interior isn't spectacular to look at, but it's attractive. Materials are about what you'd expect for the class, with a mix of plastics composing most of the touchpoints. You also get Ford's fantastic infotainment system, a great stereo and a ton of space for passengers and cargo.
It won't blow your friends away, but it's a pleasant place to be.
Of course, that could all be said of the standard Edge.
The reason you go for the ST is to get the sporty driving experience. The Fiesta ST was particularly known for this, with a straining-at-the-leash attitude that made every drive exciting. It wasn't just good to drive, it actively encouraged you to have some fun.
The same can't be said of the Edge ST.
It handles fine. It's reasonably quick. There isn't a lot of body roll. But it isn't exciting. It doesn't make rowdy noises. It doesn't beg to be pushed. And it certainly isn't much fun.
In every maneuver, the Edge ST feels uninterested. You can feel the inertia of the SUV resisting your inputs.
Part of that comes from the fact that the Edge is just big. By Ford's estimation, it weighs 4,477 pounds. It'd be silly to expect it to have the same verve as the pipsqueak Fiesta ST, which packed only 2,742 pounds.
More than that, though, the Edge ST is an adaptation of the Edge Sport that preceded it. It wasn't designed from the start to have a full-fledged ST model and I don't think there was any reasonable way to build fun into a family SUV that was designed years ago.
We're hopeful that the Explorer ST, with its clean-sheet design, will pack more of a fun factor. In the meantime, though, it's impossible to recommend spending nearly $50,000 on the Edge ST. It's a nice SUV for daily driving, but there are dozens of options for a lot less than $50,000.
That price tag could get you into a fully-loaded Mazda CX-5, an Alfa Romeo Stelvio or a Jaguar F-Pace. None of those options are as big or practical as an Edge ST, but they deliver a driving experience that far outclasses the Ford. If you want to double down on luxury, you're better served with an Edge Titanium or even the Edge's corporate cousin, the Lincoln Nautilus.
Driving Experience: 3
Price as tested: $49,430