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Ford's 2019 Edge ST is capable, but don't compare it to a Maserati or Porsche

The 2019 Ford Edge ST debuts at the 2018 Detroit auto show. Photo credit: REUTERS

PARK CITY, Utah -- Take a look at what Ford thinks are key competitors for its Edge ST midsize performance crossover, and you won't see the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe or even the upcoming Chevrolet Blazer.

Instead, you'll see it pitted against the Audi SQ5, Porsche Macan S, Jaguar F-Pace S, Maserati Levante and Mercedes-AMG GLC43.

OK, stop laughing.

Yes, that's a real list.

No, it's not part of a "One of These Things is Not Like the Other" skit from "Sesame Street."

When it comes to engineering and performance, Ford really believes its first crossover to wear the ST badge stacks up favorably against luxury entries from Mercedes, Maserati and Porsche. The marketing team argues that for the price (it starts at $43,350, including shipping), the Edge ST can deliver more capability than those premium vehicles.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 delivers 4 more pound-feet of torque, yet costs an additional $17,000, Ford says. The F-Pace S gets 48 less pound-feet of torque, but costs $16,000 more. The Macan S and Levante have higher top speeds, but cost about double the price.

Ford also says the Edge ST has better fuel economy, range and cargo capability.

And early research shows that would-be ST buyers (and Edge Sport trim buyers before them) cross-shopped against higher-end models.

"The view is that we have an asset that our traditional competitors don't have at this point," says Michael O'Brien, Ford's SUV marketing manager. "People weren't cross-shopping it against traditional competitors. They were cross-shopping it against small premium and medium premium utilities."

That all may be true, and the power numbers may make sense for the price, but Ford's kidding itself if it believes a Maserati owner would pull up to a stoplight and be jealous of the guy or gal in the Edge ST.

Don't get me wrong; it's a very competent vehicle.

The ST's 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 capably handled the sharp curves and elevation changes of the mountain passes outside Park City on a media drive. In terms of power and handling, it's an improvement over the former Edge Sport trim and can help satisfy the performance itch from customers who want some extra oomph but have a family or cargo to haul in the back seat.

O'Brien said the Edge Sport accounted for 8 to 10 percent of total Edge sales, and although he wouldn't say, it's reasonable to assume the take rate for the ST will be higher.

The Edge ST will help Ford stand apart in the midsize crossover segment. But it simply won't steal much business from the top luxury brands, no matter now many lists Ford makes.

You can reach Michael Martinez at mdmartinez@crain.com -- Follow Michael on Twitter: @MikeMartinez_AN

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