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crossovers

2017 Ford Edge Sport AWD: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Like their products, vehicle manufacturers historically develop recognizable characteristics, as Ford does with the 2017 Edge crossover sport utility vehicle.

Over the years, the Ford Motor Co. acquired a reputation for expertise with pickup trucks and station wagons. Its F-Series pickup has held the sales championship among all cars and light trucks for 40 years in a row. Though station wagons have fallen out of favor, the company built many excellent wagons over the years.

The full-size Country Squire, for example, had a run of 41 years, ending in 1991 when Ford introduced the Explorer as the country trended away from wagons and toward sport utility vehicles. Unlike the Country Squire, the Explorer started as a truck-based vehicle with optional four-wheel drive, taller and wagon-like, but not a wagon. Now it, too, has morphed into a car-based crossover.

In its time, the Explorer became the most successful SUV in the U.S. market. Its best year came in 2000, with sales of more than 445,000. More than seven million have been sold over the years.

2017 Ford Edge

The Edge, on the other hand, is a relative youngster, celebrating its first decade in 2017. It resides in the middle of Ford’s lineup of four crossovers and one full-size truck-based SUV, the Expedition. Others are the crossovers: the compact Escape, the best seller with 307,069 sold in 2016, the midsize Edge (134,588) and full-size Explorer (248,507) with three rows of seats. The Flex (SALES FIGURES) fills out the lineup as a three-row wagon.

With the Edge, Ford shows that it has not lost its touch in designing desirable wagon-like, family friendly crossovers. There are four trim levels, starting with the SE with front-wheel drive at $29,845. Add $1,495 for all-wheel drive. Other starting prices are the SEL at $32,685, Titanium at $36,495 and the tested Sport at $41,795.

There are three engine choices: 245-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 280-hp, 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 and the 315-hp, 2.7-liter turbocharged V6. The last is standard equipment on the tested Edge Sport. All use a six-speed automatic transmission.

2017 Ford Edge

The Sport also comes with all-wheel drive, a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel and Ford’s innovative adaptive steering, which changes the steering ratio based on the wheel position and the vehicle’s speed. Housed in the steering wheel with the air bag, the system weighs just two pounds and can automatically vary the left-to-right lock-to-lock from 2 to 2.6 turns.

However, as sophisticated as it is, most drivers would be hard-pressed to notice any difference unless an adaptive steering Edge were driven immediately after one without the feature.

What it does is impart an unobtrusive, relaxed feeling of straight-line control in long-distance highway driving, which is the Edge Sport’s forte. It responds quickly to steering corrections and emergency moves when needed.

2017 Ford Edge

With deep and supportive seats upholstered in suede-like cloth trimmed with leather, along with a supple suspension system that delivers a comfortable ride, driver and passengers can settle back on an all-day trip. The interior is quiet with little intrusion of mechanical, road or wind noise. Rolling Wi-Fi would be welcome but the tester was not equipped with it.

Primarily, the Explorer Sport is a fine family vacation machine. Though it’s a five-passenger, two-row crossover, the back-seat passengers have plenty of head and knee room with seatbacks that recline. Even the center-rear position, which is punishing in most vehicles, is usable though not as comfortable as the outboard back seats.

Behind the rear seats, a cavernous cargo area can swallow 39 cubic feet of luggage, food and drink, coolers, and beach chairs and umbrellas. On the Sport, the lift-gate is motorized for added convenience loading and unloading.

2017 Ford Edge

Standard equipment includes Ford’s Sync3 touch screen with voice activation to control infotainment and other functions, along with pushbutton starting, perforated leather upholstery, satellite and HD radio, dual-zone climate control, hill start assist and a garage door opener.

The Sync3 system improves on the earlier Ford MyTouch system. On the Sport, the touch screen worked in concert with in-dash displays that could be controlled from the steering wheel. But it takes some skill to set up and should not be tinkered with while driving.

The tested Edge Sport also had option packages that included adaptive cruise control, voice-activated navigation, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, remote starting, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, split-view rear camera rain-sensing windshield wipers and active parking assist. All of that brought the as-tested price to $47,925.

2017 Ford Edge

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Ford Edge Sport AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:7-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 315 hp, 350 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 117/39 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,337 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $41,795.
  • Price as tested: $47,925.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2017 Ford Edge

Photos (c) Ford.

2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Driving the 2017 Mazda CX-5 imparts the distinct impression that this compact crossover SUV filched a few genes from the Mazda Miata sports car.

Given its tall profile and practical family orientation, you don’t expect much in the way of pinpoint handling. True, other compact crossovers do a decent job of hustling around curves, as long as you don’t push too hard. But none do it with quite as much composure.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-19Sure, it’s not an MX-5 Miata two-seater. Nor will it impress owners with low-slung sports sedans, powerful engines, tight suspension systems and loose principles. But this redesigned offering from one of the world’s more innovative automakers incorporates a nearly anonymous system that surreptitiously enhances the steering.

Basically, what it does is subtly back off the throttle — not so you’d notice it — to produce an ever-so-slight weight shift toward the front wheels. The effect is to tighten the steering response to make it more precise in cornering. Mazda calls it G-Vectoring Control. (Technology nerds can look it up).

2017-Mazda-CX-5-3-1You don’t notice the specifics of this engineering. It is part of Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, which takes a holistic approach to every facet of vehicle design, right down to designing components that are as little as a few ounces lighter to contribute to overall weight reduction.

Likely most casual observers will not immediately identify the 2017 CX-5 from its predecessor. It carries over a family resemblance but adds styling fillips to the grille and headlights as well as sensuous haunches masquerading as rear fenders.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-5Inside, the engineering elves have installed additional sound deadening materials to muffle unwelcome exterior noises. They also tuned the suspension system to soak up the common bumps and grinds on U.S. roads and highways that have been allowed to fester because of ideological penny-pinching politicians. At least the engineers are doing their best to save motorists’ spines, molars and kidneys.

Aside from the excellent ride, handling and ambience, the CX-5 is no slouch on the performance charts — given its crossover orientation. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 187 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, most of it usable and delivering 23/29/26 mpg fuel consumption on the EPA’s city/highway/combined test cycle.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-11The power gets to the pavement through a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually. However, there are no shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel, as has become increasingly common.

On the CX-5, you must manually shift with the actual shift lever down on the console, which for some purists is way preferable to fingering paddles. There also are two modes: normal Drive and Sport. The latter holds the transmission to higher engine revolutions before shifting — something the driver obviously can do himself with the shifter. The manual-shift mode can be used in either the Sport or normal setting.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-12Front-wheel drive comes standard on the CX-5 and is perfectly acceptable for any owner who doesn’t live in chronically crappy weather conditions, of which there are many — and increasing — around the continental United States. If all-wheel drive is preferable, it’s a $1,300 option

There are three CX-5 trim levels: Sport, which has a starting price of $24,985, including the destination charge; Touring, at $26,855; and the tested Grand Touring at $30,335. (Manufacturers like to present their top-line vehicles to testers and critics; only rarely do you get to drive a base model). With options, the tested CX-5 had a bottom-line sticker price of $33,465.

The Grand Touring model, which accounts for about half of CX-5 sales, is lavishly equipped with a power tailgate, leather upholstery, features and trim that would be characteristic of a luxury crossover. However, it does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-4There’s a head-up display that not only shows the vehicle’s speed but also the speed limit and other functions, including lane departure alert and adaptive cruise control. The display reflects off the windshield, not the small reflective panel used on other Mazda models that rises up out of the dash.

It should be noted that compact crossover SUVs, which are the hottest selling vehicles on the market, are being infected with price creep. Where not long ago you could buy one nicely equipped for under $30,000, they now are more expensive and, in some cases, even popular priced models are approaching $40,000, moving them into luxury territory populated by crossovers from Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Lincoln, Audi and Lexus.

2017-Mazda-CX-5-33Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:5-liter four-cylinder, 187 hp, 185 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 11 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 104/31 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,700 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 2,000 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 23/29/26 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $31,635.
  • Price as tested: $34,380.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) Mazda.

 

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