Ford Galaxy review
The Galaxy is Ford's largest MPV in the range and offers plenty of space, tech and comfort
The Galaxy has always been big, but with its new family face and upmarket interior packed with technology, it’s being advertised by Ford as a ‘first class’ way to travel. Adults can fit in all three rows of seats, and when it’s not needed the third row fold electrically into the boot floor, while the second row flops forward at the touch of a button.
On the move the focus is on comfort and refinement rather than sporty handling, but it’s still among the most satisfying MPVs to drive. Well-weighted steering, a range of strong but smooth diesel and EcoBoost petrol engines and a choice of six-speed manual or Powershift dual-clutch auto gearboxes are available. Plus, for the first time the Galaxy can also be ordered with four-wheel drive.
Three trim levels are available – Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X – with even the entry-level model coming with 17-inch wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and dual-zone air-con.
Titanium models add sat-nav, LED running lights and keyless entry, while top-spec Titanium X cars get a panoramic roof, leather seats and powered tailgate as standard.
Our choice: Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCI Titanium
When a car’s job is to cram in seven seats and to maximise interior space at all costs, something has to give.
In the case of large MPVs a boxy silhouette is pretty much a given and the new Galaxy is no different. However, Ford has done great job of freshening up the face.
The biggest change is up front, where the chrome grille has been sharpened and stripped of its Ford badge, which now sits on the edge of the bonnet. Titanium models get bright LED daytime running lights, while silver roof rails, extra silver window trim and tinted rear glass add to the upmarket look. The standard 17-inch wheels appear small, but Ford offers 18-inch alloys as an option on Titanium models.
At the rear, the large tail-lights have black frames, and they merge with the tailgate glass, which also forms the upper edge of the number plate recess. Overall, the Galaxy looks upmarket, although the sole standard colour is a rather drab dark blue, while white paint is £250, metallic finishes are £545 and special ruby red paint is £795.
The interior is not only made from better quality materials than its predecessor, but looks bang up to date, with an eight-inch high-resolution central touch screen removing the need for too many buttons.
An optional digital display that fits snugly across the instrument cluster and into the dials is a useful addition, and can be fully controlled by the multi-function steering wheel.
Chunky brushed aluminium trim and a host of smart geometric shapes – such as the air vents – give the interior a fresh, upmarket feel, while the optional full-length panoramic glass roof floods the interior with light and makes it feel twice as big again.
Ford has a reputation for building cars that are involving to drive, and the last Galaxy handled well for such a large MPV. However, the brand’s latest large car platform is geared towards comfort rather than fun, and as a result it’s produced mixed results. In the S-MAX it delivers a softer and more comfortable ride, and it’s reasonably involving, but the Mondeo was a disappointment in comparison.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy’s extra weight and size mean it’s more like the Mondeo than the S-MAX in the way it drives. There’s a lot of body roll, and the suspension is easily unsettled by mid-corner bumps, which the chassis struggles to cope with. There’s plenty of understeer, while the steering is vague and imprecise, too. Take it easy, and the Galaxy is reasonably comfortable, but the soft suspension isn’t well controlled, so the car pitches and wallows over bumps.
It does, however, now cruise along in near silence at town speeds, and still stays remarkably hushed on the motorway – perfect for keeping the family happy on long trips. The suspension is nicely judged too on smooth surfaces – just firm enough to contain the Galaxy’s mass, but not enough to make small bumps and cracks felt.
Although the new S-MAX isn’t as sharp to drive as its predecessor, it’s still the go-to Ford MPV if you like to drive briskly. Fortunately, the Galaxy is still infused with some of Ford’s handling expertise.
The steering has a meaty weight to it, while stability and grip is superb, especially if you go for a four-wheel drive version. You can feel the body tipping from side to side in corners, but that’s only when you’re really pushing on – a rare occurrence in an MPV.
A choice of 158bhp 1.5 and 207bhp 2.0 EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engines are available, but it’s the diesels that will take the overwhelming majority of sales.
The 148bhp 2.0 TDCI will be the best seller, but if you can stretch to it the 178bhp 2.0 TDCI is worth going for thanks to its extra pulling power when you’ve got a fully loaded car. The 2.0 TDCI engine itself revs freely and with hardly any clatter – the perfect accompaniment to the Galaxy’s well-appointed cabin and refined character.
Paying £1,550 extra for the smooth dual-clutch auto gearbox adds yet another layer of sophistication.
The Galaxy is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but Ford will be hoping for the full five stars thanks to its class-leading array of safety technologies.
As well as the usual host of air bags, tyre pressure monitors and ISOFIX mounting points on the second row of seats, the Galaxy has an intelligent speed limiter that can scan traffic signs and ensure you never break the speed limit. There’s also adaptive cruise control and an active lane keep assist function available as optional extras.
The auto-braking function can now detect pedestrians as well as other cars, while adaptive LED headlights adjust themselves automatically to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.
In terms of reliability, much of the electronic and mechanical technology has been proved in the Mondeo, Focus and S-MAX already, and no significant problems have been reported. The higher-quality interior materials also feel built to last – even the cheaper plastics lower down on the dash have a reassuringly robust feel.
With its higher price tag, blunter handling and boxier styling, practicality is the only real reason customers will choose the Galaxy over the S-MAX. Luckily it delivers big time with an enormous boot, an interior littered with clever cubby holes and a hugely versatile seating layout.
A powered tail gate is available as an option – a good idea given the sheer size of the door – and opens to reveal an enormous boot. There’s 300-litres with all seven seats in place, 1,301-litres with the third row down and 2,339-litres with just the front two seats in place – that’s compared to 285/965/2,020 respectively in the S-MAX.
Folding all the seats flat couldn’t be easier – the third row folds down and back up electrically via a button mounted in the boot, while the second row (made up of three individual seats) flops forward by pressing another series of buttons in the boot, although you’ll have to lift them up again manually.
Whereas the S-MAX’s rearmost seats are really only for kids, the Galaxy has enough space, just about, for adults back there. The second row all slides back and forth individually, too, if you need more legroom.
Other handy features include cupholders for the third row, a three-point plug in the second row and a deep storage bin under the front arm rest.
For a car with such a gargantuan interior, fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures for the Galaxy are impressive, although they still can’t match the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.
The least powerful 119bhp 2.0 TDCI model fitted with a manual gearbox is also the cleanest in the range, returning 50.4mpg and 129g/km.
However, those are the exact same figures as the 148bhp 2.0 TDCI and 178bhp 2.0 TDCI models, so long as you go with the six-speed manual. Order the six-speed auto ‘box on the 178bhp model for example, and that the figures change to 46.3mpg and 139g/km.
The petrol models are only really worth considering if you cover relatively few miles, as even the 158bhp 1.5 EcoBoost model returns 35.3mpg and 149g/km, while the 237bhp 2.0 EcoBoost only manages 27.4mpg and 180g/km.
Service intervals are every 12,500 miles and Ford’s enormous network means you’re likely to have a dealership conveniently located wherever you live.