Not everyone is cut out to be an athlete, but a pair of running shoes and a snazzy track jacket can at least help you look the part. We bring this up because that's essentially the gist behind the relatively new ST-Line trim level for the Ford Edge.
The Edge's latest model expansion is hardly a surprise. Although this generation of Edge dates back to the 2015 model year, Ford's mid-size two-row SUV found more than 85,000 buyers even in last year's depressed market. A performance-oriented ST model was added for 2019, with the latter version accounting for nearly 13 percent of sales in its first two years of production, according to Ford. The ST-Line is a natural extension, offering most of the ST's athletic looks but none of its performance enhancers. It joined the mix for 2020, and the trim has since spread to the larger, three-row Explorer.
Given the number of ST models on the road, it's not easy to distinguish the ST-Line—which is the point. Like its sportier sibling, the ST-Line ditches chrome accents for a black honeycomb grille and other darkened exterior bits, as well as body-color bumpers and black 20-inch wheels shod with all-season tires. Notably absent are the ST's optional 21-inchers with summer tires, trapezoidal exhaust outlets, and prominent red ST emblems front and rear. But the effect is the same, bringing some welcome visual zest to an otherwise blocky vehicle.
Unlike the ST with its 335-hp twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6—the only six-cylinder Edge these days—the ST-Line employs the regular model's 250-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four mated to an unobtrusive eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive initially was a $1995 option, but it's been made standard across the Edge lineup for 2022. Our 2021 model-year test car made do with front-wheel drive and featured a panoramic sunroof and an active-safety package with adaptive cruise control and evasive steering assist, raising its as-tested price to a reasonable $42,725. The 2022 ST-Line's base price is now $42,790, which equates to a $6100 premium over the starter SE model yet a $2700 discount versus the full ST.
Spur the ST-Line, and it calmly accelerates, pushed along by a hefty 275 pound-feet of torque. Our test car reached 60 mph in 6.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds at 92 mph—perfectly adequate times that are about a second behind those of the ST yet slightly quicker than what we recorded in our last test of a base-engine Edge, a 301-pound-heavier all-wheel-drive model that only managed a fourth-place finish in a 2019 comparison test. However, our 4056-pound test car still is no lightweight, and many competitors offer more power for similar money. Among them is the winner of that comparison, the V-6-powered Honda Passport, which is nearly a second quicker to 60 mph.
The ST-Line's bulk is a drag on fuel economy. We averaged just 19 mpg, despite a 24-mpg combined EPA figure, and our example's 24-mpg result on our 75-mph highway test is also 5 mpg below its highway rating. Without the ST's suspension upgrades and optional bigger brakes, the ST-Line encourages only light exercise behind the wheel. While snow prevented us from seeing if it improves upon our previous test car's decent 0.83 g of skidpad grip, its 174-foot stop from 70 mph is average for this segment. Ride comfort and overall control are good for the daily slog. But we know from previous experience that the standard Edge's stoppers are ill-suited for spirited driving and that its soft suspension quickly becomes unsettled when you pick up the pace. "Spooky" is how we've described its handling behavior in the past, and disconnected is how we still feel when looking out over its long dash from the booster-seat driving position.
Inside, you'll find red contrast stitching and grippy seat inserts, as well as the 12.0-inch touchscreen running Ford's latest Sync 4A infotainment suite that all Edge models gained for 2021. Though one test driver did note that the system froze up and crashed while driving—sadly, a fairly common occurrence in our digital world—the large, highly configurable screen is a meaningful upgrade that brings wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, among other features. It also helps distract from the Edge's old-school instrument cluster with an analog speedometer flanked by tiny hard-to-read displays, as well as the several sharp-edged plastic trim pieces we found in our test car. The Edge offers generous stretch-out space for rear-seat passengers, and all occupants will appreciate the hushed way the ST-Line's engine goes about its work—72 decibels at full chat, 68 decibels at a steady 70 mph.
Prospective buyers seeking a more energetic Ford Edge should still look to the full ST model, as the ST-Line's black accents don't enhance this aging crossover's uninspired driving experience. Nor does a fancy touchscreen refine its cabin to the levels found in newer rivals such as the redesigned Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento. But the ST-Line treatment does make for an attractive game of dress-up for those who value style over performance.