Verdict: The Bend has accomplished ride-and-handling antithesis forth with adult driver-assistance and multimedia tech, but its autogenous affection lags its price, and all but the ST archetypal charge added power.
Versus the competition: The Bend is still a solid mid-size SUV with accomplished active dynamics, but it needs to up its game. Newer rivals are abacus added value, bigger powertrains and nicer interiors — and that’s afore you alike accede bunched SUVs. The Bend ST achievement version, however, is a appropriate advantage against best of the competition.
Ford active the mid-size Bend five-seat SUV for 2019, abacus both a adherent adaptation and an edgier ST achievement trim akin that replaces the old Sport. It additionally fabricated some not-so-edgy tweaks to the SUV’s avant-garde and rear styling, and added a new transmission, a smarter all-wheel-drive advantage and added accepted assurance tech.
Also for 2019, Ford dead off the old 3.5-liter V-6 engine. There’s still a V-6 — a added able adaptation of the 2018 Bend Sport’s 2.7-liter — but it’s alone in the ST. Added versions accomplish do with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s akin to a new eight-speed automatic.
The 2019 Bend continues to action SE, SEL and Titanium trim levels, and there’s a new Titanium Elite Package with dressier exoteric trim and a new top price. Beyond its engine, the ST additionally adds added advancing looks and a beefed-up suspension. It’s no fire-breather, but Ford’s ST achievement assemblage has injected a dosage of fun into the competent, amiable Edge.
The once-sleepy mid-size SUV chic is heating up. The Bend competes with such stalwarts as the Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee, but additionally the redesigned 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2020 Subaru Outback, a adored Chevrolet Blazer and the all-new Honda Passport. An Bend Titanium Elite captivated its own in Cars.com’s contempo head-to-head allegory of these SUVs (minus the still-to-come Outback), finishing a abutting third abaft the value-laden Santa Fe and the Pilot-based Passport. See the after-effects here.
I activated two Bend Titanium Elites and an ST for this review.
All 2019s get a wider, slimmer grille, a new hood, new bumpers and new taillights, as able-bodied as accepted LED lighting. The Elite Package dresses up the Titanium with its own 20-inch caster design, additional body-colored bumpers and lower-side cladding. The ST is the new slouching bad boy, but afterwards debauchery the look. It gets hardly added advancing bumpers, a atramentous cobweb grille, blacked-out trim and atramentous lower-side aero, as able-bodied as begrimed wheels. In accession to the approved Bend acrylic colors, the ST can be had covered in the Blue Oval’s Achievement Blue paint.
The autogenous mostly carries over from the antecedent archetypal year, but with changes to the centermost dashboard and console, which account from a new space-saving rotary bite accessory selector. The top-trim autogenous doesn’t absolutely feel up to its price, however, bond nice touches with cheaper materials. There’s tasteful metal-look trim alongside cheap-looking panels, with grained bogus on top of the dash. There’s additionally an odd mix with the centermost controls: A adorned afire aggregate bulge and afire bar-shaped push-buttons for radio affability (why not a handier knob?) allotment amplitude on a flat-gray bogus animate with anatomic but cheap-feeling bogus buttons.
The autogenous has affluence of room, however. Leather basement is accepted in the Titanium, and I begin the seats to be admiring both avant-garde and rear, if a little too abbreviate for the best thigh support. Our analysis cars had aerial as able-bodied as acrimonious avant-garde seats, and the blast was absolutely able — rarely the case. Another additional on the top trim levels is a abounding ambit of ability front-seat acclimation not aloof for the disciplinarian but for the passenger, as well, including ability lumbar support.
Materials quality, acceptable and bad, holds up in the rear. The collapsed rear bench had affluence of legroom for me (6-foot-2) to sit abaft a disciplinarian of my admeasurement alike admitting it doesn’t slide, but the alternative across-the-board moonroof larboard almost abundant allowance for me.
The ST autogenous reflects the Titanium: all black, but with the accession of a brace of accurately bedlam and well-bolstered action seats up front. They do a acceptable job of befitting you in abode acknowledgment to both contouring and grippy, suedelike inserts.
Cabin accumulator is excellent, with a abysmal centermost animate bin, a big bin avant-garde of the accessory selector dial, slots crabbed the cupholders, amplitude beneath the centermost animate and good-size aperture bins. An added blow that isn’t apparent abundant is added accumulator aloft the dashboard beneath a flip-up lid.
Ford says the Bend has 39.2 cubic anxiety of burden allowance abaft the rear bench — abounding allowance we accepted with our own abstracts for our mid-size Challenge, breadth it had the best advantageous aggregate of the six contestants. The burden breadth has releases for the 60/40-split, folding backrests to accessible up a best 73.4 cubic anxiety of space. The accessible ability liftgate includes hands-free operation.
Ford’s convenient Sync 3 media arrangement — accepted on the SEL and up — is quick, and the 8-inch touchscreen is aciculate and responsive. It includes accepted smartphone affiliation and a Wi-Fi hot atom (with subscription) for up to 10 devices. The system’s articulation ascendancy was the best authentic of the SUVs activated in the mid-size Challenge. The affectation is well-placed for afterimage lines, admitting it’s angled hardly upward, which can bolt blaze and appearance off fingerprints. You shouldn’t accede an Bend afterwards Sync 3; the abject system’s baby awning and one USB anchorage are not activity to satisfy.
There are two USB ports on college trim levels (fewer than best rivals), and the Titanium adds wireless charging. There are 12-volt ability outlets on the ancillary of the centermost console, in the animate bin and in the burden area. Rear cartage get no USB ports, admitting they acquire a 110-volt domiciliary aperture as able-bodied as 12-volt power.
The accepted turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder puts out 250 application and 280 pounds-feet of torque on exceptional gasoline. That’s up 5 hp and 5 pounds-feet from aftermost year. Ford says it’s advised to accomplish on approved gas, as well, admitting with lower output.
A new eight-speed automatic, which replaces the old six-speed, is about well-behaved, not barrier or hunting for gears. Ability is able but in no way exciting, appearing overmatched by the 4,124-pound SUV (AWD version). That activity was circuitous by a exhausted or so of turbo lag off the band and almost quick upshifts, afresh able by lag on some downshifts. Downshifts are fast abundant aback you go from some gas to added gas, but they lag aback you bite the pedal afterwards benumbed or braking. Using Action approach holds lower apparatus best and sharpens response, decidedly for mid-range passing.
This new accustomed for the Bend has a adjustment in bigger mileage; its EPA-estimated rating of 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined (with front-wheel drive) is up a little from the 2018 2.0-liter and up essentially from the retired V-6. The AWD Titanium came in additional in accumulated breadth in real-world testing for our mid-size SUV Challenge, backward alone the Murano, which has a V-6 and a continuously capricious automated transmission. The Bend averaged 25.6 mpg in almost 210 afar of burghal and artery driving, but came in aftermost in the Challenge baronial of ammunition amount per mile because of its recommended exceptional gas. (We didn’t analysis the Bend with regular, admitting it’s accessible if the lessened ability is able for you.) Alike active on premium, the Edge’s near-luxury aspirations would account from added scoot. Yes there’s the ST, but it’s a actual altered vehicle.
The affection of the ST is the accommodating twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that pumps out 335 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque, up 20 hp and 30 pounds-feet from the 2018 Action (again bold exceptional fuel). It’s a gem that’s akin to an ST adaptation of the eight-speed automatic. Despite actuality acquainted for the ST, the manual was still quick to upshift and took a exhausted or two to downshift. Ford says the powertrain is acceptable for a zero-to-60-mph time in the 5-second range. The gas breadth amends isn’t alike huge, with EPA ratings bottomward aloof 2 mpg beyond the lath from a noncombatant Bend with AWD.
The Bend combines accomplished bang absorption, abreast and a comfortable, carlike ride with actual able handling. It accomplished additional in the Challenge in both administration and ride, assuming it could both airing and bite gum afterwards sacrificing one for the other. There’s acceptable anatomy ascendancy and the council is great: quick and accurately weighted, with brittle turn-in.
The Edge’s administration additionally allowances from the alternative AWD, which got smarter for 2019. It can now abandoned the articulation to the rear auto aback it’s not needed, allowance ammunition economy, but can afresh about instantly (Ford says aural 10 milliseconds) accelerate up to 100 percent of ability to the rear, admitting it doesn’t breach it ancillary to side. AWD assurance is managed by bogus intelligence and sensor inputs, including alfresco temperature and whether the windshield wipers are on.
The ST improves on that foundation with Ford Achievement affability and shock absorbers that accomplish it alike added agile. Cornering is collapsed for a abundant SUV, admitting there’s still some roll, and there’s beneath understeer than in the accepted Edge. Council additionally had bluff turn-in, and admitting the accepted Bend was bound at the bend by efficiency-oriented all-season tires, the ST we collection had administration banned additional by the $2,695 ST Achievement Brake Package, which adds 21-inch atramentous auto (20s are standard) with grippy summer tires. You pay a amount in firmer ride; the ST ability not be your best best if you drive on pothole-ridden burghal streets.
For weekend fun, though, the S button in the centermost of the rotary shifter activates an ST-specific Action approach that tightens steering, burke and manual response, adds rev-matching and lets the steering-wheel paddles authority apparatus to the redline. It alters the configurable allocation of the apparatus array to accompany up a tachometer and cartoon such as turbo addition and ability distribution. Action additionally enhances agent growl, admitting alone in the cabin, breadth it comes through the speakers. If it’s clue day, the ST allows you to bite aback — admitting not absolutely attenuate — adherence controls for looser caster blooper and cycle ambit afore intervention.
The Bend becoming top array for crashworthiness and avant-garde blow arrangement in Insurance Institute for Artery Assurance testing, but both accessible headlight systems are rated poor, alike admitting the Bend offers an adaptive headlight system.
When it comes to avant-garde assurance and driver-assistance technology, however, the Bend was the top scorer in our mid-size Challenge. Accepted for 2019 is a array of tech branded Co-Pilot360. It includes a avant-garde blow admonishing arrangement with automated braking, dark atom admonishing with rear cross-traffic alert, lane abandonment warning, lane accumulate abetment and automated aerial beams. The alternative Co-Pilot360 Additional adds adaptive cruise ascendancy with abounding stop-and-go, lane absorption and ambiguous council assist. My tester had it, and the cruise ascendancy was as able as advertised. The Edge’s able-bodied lane-centering arrangement additionally formed all the way to a stop. The alone change I would accomplish in the arrangement — and it’s a complaint I acquire with best such systems — would be a added arresting indicator of aback it is or isn’t bound on. Perpendicular and parallel-parking abetment is optional, but no 360-degree camera arrangement is available. Some rivals action one.
Cars.com’s 2019 Bend Car Bench Check address agenda shows beeline B’s — not abundant to bout added family-friendly SUVs. The Edge’s shortcomings mostly had to do with difficult Latch anchors and bench belt buckles that are tougher for kids to use.
The active Bend charcoal a solid mid-size SUV, but rivals action a lot of appearance at almost boilerplate prices compared with affluence brands. You can get a appealing nice front-wheel-drive Bend SE for the starting amount of $31,090 (all prices accommodate destination). At the added end, an AWD Titanium Elite starts at $47,195 and the ST at $43,450. As tested, the loaded Elite we collection had a sticker of $48,210 and the ST angled the scales at $52,515.
Higher amount array were a cogent agency in the Bend Titanium Elite actuality belted out in our mid-size SUV Challenge by top trim levels of the new Santa Fe and Passport, which lagged in active fun but offered a amount of flush appearance at prices $8,305 and $3,485 cheaper, respectively. Compare their appearance and trim levels here.
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