The 2019 Ford Edge uses artificial intelligence to improve performance and traction.
The system is complex and works faster than the human brain, according to Ford.
The biggest news about the 2019 Ford Edge is, surprisingly, not related to the hardcore ST variant. Even though the Edge ST rightfully deserves a place in the news, the base price of $42,355 is an issue for some buyers. After ticking the option box for the chassis upgrades, bigger brakes, and larger alloys, the price balloons to around $50,000.
But what really commands the most attention is Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with “AWD Disconnect.” This feature is now optional on all 2019 Ford Edge models, and standard on the ST. The new drivetrain actually utilizes A.I. technology to determine the optimal settings. The system collects information from a dizzying array of sensors located throughout the vehicle.
Depending on the incoming data, the system switches between front- and all-wheel drive.
This all-wheel drive disconnect system is the first of its kind from the Ford factory. Ford says it’s faster than the human brain because it shifts from front- to all-wheel drive in a fraction of a second.
“The concept is pretty simple – it was the execution that was the challenge,” explained Scott Beiring, Ford Driveline Applications Supervisor. “Shifting between two- and all-wheel drive needs to be fast and seamless enough that the customer doesn’t know it is happening.”
The electronic brain is governed by A.I.-powered algorithms that detect wheel slip. It works in tandem with the traction control system and constantly monitors vehicle activity. The system automatically detects if front- or all-wheel drive is necessary in just 10 milliseconds. Furthermore, 100 percent of the available torque can be sent from front to rear, and back, depending on road conditions.
“There are similar systems out there, but none quite like this,” Beiring added. “The fact that we’re able to switch seamlessly and without any input from the driver, that’s the real magic.”
It is easy to imagine the reason why Ford’s all-wheel drive disconnect system is developed for the Edge SUV. However, it goes further than just improving grip, traction, and stability during challenging road conditions.
In truth, this revolutionary drivetrain was primarily conceived to improve fuel economy. When combined with the new eight-speed automatic (two overdrive gears), a 2019 Ford Edge, with intelligent all-wheel drive, achieves an EPA-estimated 22/29 city/highway rating with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-banger.
Front-wheel drive models with the same engine can muster an almost identical range of 21/28 mpg city/highway. The Ford Edge ST enjoys a 19/26 mpg city/highway rating, despite a larger 335 horsepower 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.
You won’t need to apply for a second mortgage for the trick A.I. drivetrain either. The system runs $1,995; the base Edge SE starts at $29,995. This is not bad given the amount of standard features, including Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 and post-collision braking systems.
[bctt tweet=”This all-wheel drive disconnect system is the first of its kind from the Ford factory. It’s faster than the human brain, shifting from front- to all-wheel drive in a fraction of a second.” username=”Automoblog”]
Thankfully, all 2019 Ford Edge models come with active grille shutters, under-body shields, and curtains around the outer surface of the wheels. These enable the new Edge to slice the wind like a sharp knife over a freshly grilled medium-rare steak.
Other fuel-saving measures include auto start-stop and exhaust gas re-circulation systems. The deceleration fuel shut-off feature cuts fuel to the motor when speed is reduced.
Should You Get The Ford Edge ST?
Consider this: the Ford Edge ST has no real competition. It seems the concept of a fast, midsize SUV belongs in the realm of luxury marques with prohibitive price tags. Unless Mazda or Honda develops a tuned SKYACTIV CX-5 or a turbocharged CR-V SI, the closest things that resemble the Edge ST are the SRT versions of the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. But both of those start at no less than $65,000.
With that in mind, the 2019 Ford Edge ST looks like a performance bargain. The vehicle is in showrooms now.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.