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A closeup is shown of the wheel on an orange 2020 Ford Mustang in a parking lot.

The Other Fun Fords

The Ford Mustang is an iconic sports car that has been on the market for decades. With an aggressive silhouette, rear-wheel drive, and an array of powerful engines, it is no wonder that the Mustang remains one of Ford’s most popular vehicles. However, you may not be aware that the Mustang is not the only fun vehicle produced by Ford (and we are not talking about the half a million-dollar Ford GT either). Other options include the Ford Fiesta, the Ford Edge, and the Ford Explorer.

Now, there are probably some of you who are wondering how a subcompact car and a pair of SUVs deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the legendary Mustang. And, indeed, the vast majority of the Ford Fiestas, Ford Edges, and Ford Explorers on the road are nothing but affordable and functional transportation. But all three of these vehicles are also offered in performance-oriented ST variants. And unlike the sports trims of many other manufacturers, where the only differences from the base models are cosmetic enhancements such as larger wheels and non-functional spoilers, the Ford ST cars received numerous meaningful performance upgrades such as more powerful engines and an enhanced suspension.

The end results of the changes made by Ford to create an ST car results in a vehicle that looks the same on the outside but is in an entirely different class when it comes to performance. And while the final numbers of a Ford ST car may not quite match those of a pure sports car such as the Ford Mustang, the ST cars still retain all the practicality of their non-performance variants. This makes them an excellent choice for people who have lives that do allow them to drive pure sports cars all the time. Even if you can afford to have a Ford Mustang (or even a Ford GT) in the garage as your second car, a Ford ST car will let you experience a performance car even when you are taking a trip to the hardware store, picking up family members, or driving through bad weather or on poor roads.

2019 Ford Fiesta ST

An orange 2019 Ford Fiesta ST is driving on a highway.

The Ford Fiesta ST is the oldest and probably best-known of Ford’s three current ST cars. The non-performance Ford Fiesta that it is based on is the smallest and cheapest vehicle of Ford’s 2019 line up (production of this model did not continue into 2020). With a starting price of just a bit over $14,000 and a 1.6L engine producing just 120 horsepower, the Fiesta may appear to be an odd choice to turn into a sports car. However, the Fiesta weighs half a ton less than a Mustang––an advantage that can translate into incredible handling. However, you have to be careful to distinguish between the highly capable Ford Fiesta ST and the mostly cosmetic Ford Fiesta ST-Line that looks and sounds very similar but lacks most of the real performance upgrades.

The largest change between the non-performance Ford Fiesta and the Ford Fiesta ST is the upgrade to a turbocharged direct-injection engine with 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. This gives the car a zero to sixty time of less than seven seconds––not quite Ford Mustang territory, but far better than the vast majority of the cars on the road. The transmission in the Ford Fiesta ST also upgraded to a six-speed manual with more aggressive gearing, the low-cost rear drum brakes were replaced with larger disc brakes all around to improve stopping performance, and the suspension has been modified to provide superior handling. Finally, the stability control system on the Ford Fiesta ST was upgraded with additional modes, and a torque-vectoring system was added.

The end result of all of these mechanical changes is a nimble car that can dart down a twisty track or road with an agility that the larger Ford Mustang could never match. And as a four-door hatchback, the Ford Fiesta ST remains a highly practical car that you can use to accomplish all your daily tasks in a way that a Mustang never could.

2020 Ford Edge ST

The Ford Edge ST takes a different route. Instead of focusing on agility, it is more of a comfortable highway car that can move your whole family or a large amount of cargo while giving you plenty of power. And because it comes with all-wheel drive, the Ford Edge ST is a performance vehicle that can easily handle bad weather or even the occasional off-road adventure. However, that is not to say that Ford neglected handling when they were designing the Ford Edge ST. In fact, they completely redesigned the rear suspension and replaced the integral link system found in the non-performance models with an all-new multi-link suspension with trailing blade control arms.

Like the Ford Focus ST, the most noticeable change made with the Ford Edge ST was an upgraded engine. Instead of the turbocharged four-cylinder of the non-performance Ford Edge, the Ford Edge ST has a turbocharged V6 with 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. This is actually a more powerful engine than the one in the EcoBoost Mustang, and while the additional weight of the Ford Edge ST does hinder its acceleration, this engine is still powerful enough to propel the vehicle to sixty miles per hour in just under six seconds. This is faster than virtually anything but a pure sports car, and even many sports cars are slower than the Ford Edge ST (the older V6 Mustang, for instance). So if you want to enjoy legitimate sports car power in a practical SUV, then the Ford Edge ST is an excellent option.

Acknowledging this role as a fun highway vehicle, the interior of the Ford Edge ST is also richly appointed. Interior comforts include bolstered ten-way power-adjustable heated front seats (driver and passenger), a top of the line twelve-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and acoustic laminated side windows to reduce road noise. When combined with the excellent standard Ford infotainment system and many additional optional features, the Ford Edge ST makes for a ride that is as comfortable as it is fun.

2020 Ford Explorer ST

A red 2020 Ford Explorer ST is driving over a bridge at sunset.

The final Ford ST car is the Ford Explorer ST. This vehicle is very similar in concept to the Ford Edge ST, only more powerful and more comfortable. The engine on this car is the same turbocharged V6 that is found in the top non-performance Platinum trim of the Ford Edge. However, it has been modified for a 35 horsepower increase, resulting in a final figure of 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. This engine allows the Ford Explorer ST to hit sixty miles per hour in just 5.2 seconds––a number that puts it neck and neck with the EcoBoost Mustang. While this still does not hold a candle to the Mustang GT, let alone a Shelby Mustang, but the Ford Explorer ST is a legitimately fast vehicle by any measure.

All three of the Ford ST cars make for excellent options for anyone seeking that elusive blend of practicality and fun. Given their upgraded engines and other factory performance modifications, these vehicles are legitimately entering sports car territory despite their humble origins. And despite their sporty nature, they sacrifice none of the people and cargo-hauling capabilities found in their more ordinary variants. So do not fixate on the Mustang and give Ford’s other fun cars a try as well.

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