How many of us spend our weeks, and often weekends as well, right here in the capital city shuttling between work, home, the gym, the mall or hypermarket, perhaps heading to old Muttrah or one of our five-star hotels for dinner and a change of pace? Sure, we hear the call of the wild — sand dunes and desert sunsets over Wahiba Sands; towering peaks and deep, wadi-cut valleys in the Hajar mountains; remote beaches in Dhofar — but far too often adventurous weekend plans are replaced with outing closer to home.
So, when it comes to choosing a vehicle, in-town comfort, park-ability, and sporty acceleration for derby-style highway commutes are especially important. That said, who doesn’t want to have the option of hopping in the car and setting off for an impromptu outdoor adventure when time allows?
This is precisely what the Ford Edge was designed for — a nimble, urban-focused crossover with enough under the hood to take you up the occasional mountain path or onto the beach for a barbecue. The 2016 models have been loaded with a few more goodies, like adaptive steering, which adjusts the steering ratio according to speed and wheel position, essentially giving more torque at lower speeds (like when parking) and softening the response at cruising speed for smoother lane transitions. The Sync 3 infotainment system is also an upgrade from previous models with a fantastic touchscreen display coupled with in-dash displays (available on higher trims). I took the sport model out for a spin, and was smitten with the in-town performance. Simply put, it was more comfortable than my living room.The interior is just plain thoughtful, from the 10-way power adjustable seats with perforated suede (for breathability), complete with heating and cooling, to a multiple driver memory function, a telescopic power tilt steering column, a staggering eight cup holders (great for a beverage fanatic like me ... maybe an American thing?), dash storage and overhead sunglass holder, anti-glare mirrors, four 12-volt power points, passenger entertainment systems, tons of cargo space with fold-flat second row seating for more room, and a remote start system to get things nice and cool before hopping in.
The amenities are not just thrown in, everything is ergonomically arranged so that when you are driving, you can simply lean back, in your perfectly adjusted and temperature controlled seat, and cruise. Change songs or make calls without removing your hands from the steering wheel, change lanes with a glance in your side view mirrors (no neck craning necessary, thanks to collision alerts), and when it’s time to squeeze into one of those notoriously tight parking spots at MGM mall or on the corniche, there is a truly remarkable park assist function that will take care of parallel parking, perpendicular parking, and exiting that tight spot, automatically. You just work the pedals and the car will do the rest.
This is not a bulky crossover, making it ideal for the challenges of city parking and manoeuvring, but it is also far from diminutive, with plenty of space for passengers with reclining back seats and a generous cargo area. The twin-turbo 2.7 litre V6 Ecoboost engine is fast. I had to watch myself on the freeways. As I cruised along smoothly, silently, and with little effort, I would glance down and see the speedometer crossing 120kph. The hearty body was immune to wind conditions, even at high speeds. But what about the weekend warrior capabilities?
The ground clearance of the Edge is a respectable 20cm, but this is not the vehicle for dune bashing or rock crawling. However, we took the Edge to the slightly treacherous inclines of Wakan Village and through the adjacent gravel of Wadi Mistral to give the scrappy SUV a road challenge.
Surrounded by monstrous 4x4s, we slowly made our way up the mountain path, and as it narrowed and grew more pitted, I actually worried about the other, wider vehicles in our convoy making it between the mountain wall and the sheer drop. The Edge strained a bit as the ground became uneven and steep, and there was some minor tyre slippage on the loose soil and gravel, but we emerged at the top of the mountain unscathed. Down in the wadi, the Edge again held its own, and the front view camera provided vital visibility so we were able to manoeuvre around large stones. It was slow going, but one wouldn’t expect a crossover to bound over off-road terrain. Given the vehicle’s performance on these terrains, I feel confident that the Edge would have little difficultly on a beach with hard-pack sand.
Loaded with safety features, comfort amenities, and sporty external styling, along with truly versatile handling options for city driving and excursions into the great outdoors, the Edge may be the ultimate modern family vehicle.