They are built on a car chassis, but don't compromise interior space or lower seating height (features SUV owners have grown to expect). Lighter frames make them easier to maneuver and should reduce fuel consumption, compared to truck-based SUVs.

The Edge joins a host of other CUVs, including its Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 siblings, in the hunt for Baby Boomers looking to downsize. Ford crosshairs are also on tech-savvy Echo Boomers (or Gen-Xers) in search of a hipper ride than their father's minivan to cart around their growing families.

Top on the list of Edge features I like is the optional, class-exclusive Panoramic Vista Roof. This enormous skylight provides unprecedented views above and opens the interior to the elements, thanks to a tilting and sliding 27.3 × 29.4-in. forward panel that mates to a 15.7 × 31.3-in. fixed glass panel. One might expect a noisy, windy ride with it fully open. But a special pop-up mesh screen breaks up the wind, letting rear-seat passengers hear what those in front are saying.

The Edge has an aerodynamic profile with short overhangs. The wheels sit at the far corners of the chassis, giving it a sturdy, sporty look. The wide stance, coupled with front MacPherson struts and four-link rear suspension, makes for solid handling on tight switchbacks.

A beefy, three-bar chrome grille borrowed from the Fusion sedan adorns the front. Other custom styling cues include a slightly arched hood, broad shoulders with no creases or trim on the sides, a roof spoiler, and dual chrome exhausts.

Under the hood, a 3.5-liter V6 with a lightweight, die-cast aluminum block and four valves/cylinder head gives the Edge a smooth ride at high rpm. The six-speed automatic transmission generates 265 hp of power. And buyers can choose between EPA highway ratings of 25 mpg with front-wheel drive or 24 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Inside, the five-door, five-passenger CUV offers too many whizbangs to list. But they include optional six-way power, heated, adjustable front seats, reportedly best in class head, shoulder, and legroom for second-row passengers, and an easy-to-use folding front-passenger seat that lets 8-ft-long items stow with the hatch closed. And 60/40 reclining, split second-row seats fold level either manually or automatically with an EasyFold electromechanical release accessible from the rear cargo area.

There are three power point plugs and an MP3 audio jack (a segment first). The large center console holds items as big as a laptop computer or handbag. Base MSRP is just under $28K, but with options including DVD-based navigation, 18-in. chrome wheels, trailer tow package, and Sirius Satellite Radio, along with the Vista Roof, the Edge came in at $34,290.