2012 Ford Edge EcoBoost

ROMEO, Mich. — Can the Ford EcoBoost deliver the advertised combination of solid performance and segment-leading gas mileage in the popular mid-sized crossover Ford Edge? After some seat time in the 2012 Edge with its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine at Ford's test facility here, we say yes.

Edge and 2012 Explorer are the first vehicles in North America to be offered with Ford’s new four-cylinder engine, two of the first vehicles in a grand strategy that calls for 90 percent of its global vehicle portfolio to offer the turbocharging technology by 2013.

It gives the 4,000-pound Edge surprisingly acceptable forward momentum with 240 horsepower and a healthy 270 pound-feet of torque. And it's rated at 30 miles per gallon in highway driving and 21mpg city. The eye-opening efficiency is aided by aggressiv
e deceleration fuel shutoff, twin independent variable camshaft timing, and active grille shutters to improve aerodynamics. Active transmission warm-up for the six-speed gearbox reduces internal friction immediately following engine startup.

The torquey four gives the five-passenger hauler an athletic feel, putting renewed emphasis on the word sport in the traditional sport utility vehicle moniker. Not only did we find it pleasingly receptive in climbing the steep grades at the test facility, but we discovered that it was more than willing to take sweeping corners more like a sports sedan than a sport utility. And with this new Ford engine the term turbo-lag might be relegated to the dustbin of words no longer in common usage.

The downside — the EcoBoost engine is a $995 option. So the big question does not involve performance — it's there in spades — but is it worth a thousand bucks to forsake the standard 285-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, which, by the way, has 17 fewer pound-feet of torque, to gain two or three mpg in combined highway/city driving?

The purchase decision may be made easier by driving both versions of the Edge back-to-back.

The EcoBoost is a giant 2012 bonus in one of the hottest-selling crossovers this year, a vehicle that was considerably refreshed for 2011 gaining bold and significant changes in the front and rear including a large, more handsome Ford signature drop jaw chrome grille, and adding an all-new interior with noticeable attention to detail, fit and finish.

The EcoBoost will be available only in front-wheel drive format.

— Jim Meachen