For a company with its roots in America, Ford has always been a bit-part player in the British 4x4 market. It sorted itself out with the Kuga, and the Ranger is a big hit in the pick-up sector, but for a larger SUV you need to go back to the anonymous Mazda-built Maverick – and before that, to the gas-guzzling old Explorer.
But now we have the Edge. Which Ford very much hopes will give it the edge over competitors like Kia, whose Sorento models have been making hay for the thick end of a decade and a half.
Ford wants the Edge to compete with premium SUVs like the BMW X3 and Merc GLC. But to earn the right to do that, first it must see off volume competitors like the Sorento. So here we are with two vehicles which, with prices in the low thirties, are the definition of a lot of car for your money.
A lot of car, and a lot of kit. Both give you nav, cruise, climate and a colour media screen with reversing camera. If you want leather, though, get in the Sorento; this also gains self-levelling suspension at the back, though Ford can point to the Edge’s powered tailgate by way of competition.
On a less detailed level, both are roomy up front – but the Sorento is the only one with seven seats, which for some will be a knockout blow. Even if it’s not, despite being cheaper to buy the Kia has a far more convincing premium feel to it, with softer plastics and a more modern media system that’s easily more intuitive to use. The Edge does have more space in its second row, but the Sorento’s boot dwarfs it. Frankly, it’s a bit one-sided in this area.
Once you’re behind the wheel, the Edge does start regaining territory. It handles with sharp steering and minimal body roll, and it’s no problem to keep in its lane on the motorway – whereas the Sorento, with more of a traditional 4x4 feel to it, needs continual adjustments here.
It’s quieter on a cruise, too, and although it’s smaller Ford’s 2.0-litre engine pulls with more assurance than Kia’s 2.2. Its gearbox has its wits about it, too – and tighter ride control means it’s a more comfortable way to get from A to B, even when you’re not consciously trying to have fun on the way.
So, it’s a simple question of a better interior versus a better drive, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Let’s not forget that the Sorento is cheaper to buy. Only by about a grand, though, once dealer discounts are factored in. But look at whole-life costs and the picture changes.
The Edge is predicted to hold its value better, for starters. And as well as being in a lower tax band, it’s less thirsty to the tune of 5.9mpg. All that will overwhelm the Sorento’s cheaper price – and if you’re a business user, with Ford your tax bill will be lower by £500 a year.
Weighing it up, this might not quite be the aforementioned knockout blow to turn around a fight that started so well for Kia. But this might: the Edge can tow 2200kg, whereas the Sorento makes do with 2000kg.
So no, it’s not quite just a better interior against a better drive. The Edge is cheaper to own, and while neither is a monster towcar Ford is the badge to look to if you want a wider margin of comfort when hitching up.
So as it turns out, while each has areas in which it’s vastly superior, over the piece it’s close to being a tie. We’d cast our vote for the Sorento, whose interior is what you want to be sitting in and whose seven seats – not to mention Kia’s seven-year warranty – trump the Edge’s higher towing weight and lower ownership costs.
If you don’t need those extra seats and don’t mind a lower-rent cabin with a media system from the days of yore, the Edge is an excellent SUV too. This is one of those contests in which personal preference will likely win out – and that’s fine, because if you buy for the right reasons neither of these cars will disappoint.
Ford Edge 2.0 TDCi 210 Titanium auto (4 stars)
Engine size: 2.0-litre diesel
List price: £34,495
Target Price: £32,010
Torque: 332lb ft
Top speed: 131mph
Gov't fuel economy: 48.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi KX-2 auto (4 stars)
Engine size: 2.2-litre diesel
List price: £33,700
Target Price: £30,981
Torque: 311lb ft
Top speed: 124mph
Gov't fuel economy: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 174g/km