Ford Galaxy review
The Galaxy is Ford's largest MPV in the range and offers plenty of space, tech and comfort
The Galaxy is the largest of Ford’s MPVs and it’s also the most spacious. A seven-seater, the back two seats fold electronically into the floor and the central row of seats drops down at the press of a button, so it’s extremely practical.
The latest Ford Galaxy is still good to drive but has traded a little of the previous model’s sharp handling for comfort and refinement, for which it’s now one of the best in the large MPV class.
There’s a good range of 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engines available with four different power outputs, a pair of Ecoboost petrol engines and for the first time, a four-wheel-drive version. You’re unlikely to be disappointed by the standard equipment list, too.
The third-generation Ford Galaxy is the largest of the four MPVs that Ford currently produces and it’s more practical and spacious than its sportier S-MAX sister car. It goes up against rival seven-seat MPVs such as the Volkswagen Sharan, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, the SEAT Alhambra and the Renault Grand Scenic.
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 folds 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 more enjoyable MPVs to drive. Well-weighted steering complements a range of strong but smooth diesel and EcoBoost petrol engines, along with six-speed manual or Powershift automatic gearboxes. Plus, for the first time the Galaxy can also be ordered with four-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery conditions.
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The diesels are likely to be the big sellers, particularly the 148bhp 2.0-litre TDCi version, which strikes the best balance between price, power and economy. The same 2.0-litre diesel engine is available with 119bhp, 178bhp or 207bhp.
If you like your MPVs fast then there’s a 237bhp 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol model at the top of the range that’s good for 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds, while the 158bhp petrol is the cheapest engine in the range and is well suited to low-mileage drivers.
There are three trims levels: Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X – and even the entry-level model comes with 17-inch wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, and dual-zone climate control.
Mid-level 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.
Engines, performance and drive
Ford has a reputation for building cars that are fun to drive, and the previous generation Galaxy handled well given that it was such a large MPV. However, the brand’s latest large car platform (the basic architecture that underpins several bigger Fords) has divided opinion, being geared towards comfort rather than fun.
In the S-MAX, the new platform delivers a softer and more comfortable ride and it’s reasonably involving to drive, but the Mondeo was a disappointment in comparison. Unfortunately, the Galaxy’s extra weight and size mean the driving experience is more like the Mondeo than the S-MAX.
Take it easy, however, and the Galaxy is nicely comfortable. The steering has a reasonable amount of weight (but arguably not enough), while stability and grip are superb, especially if you go for a four-wheel drive version. You can feel the body tipping from side to side in corners and the soft suspension is easily unsettled by any bumps, but that’s only when you’re really pushing on, which is pretty rare for MPV drivers.
The Galaxy now cruises along in near silence at town speeds and is remarkably hushed on the motorway. The suspension works well on smooth surfaces – it’s just firm enough to contain the Galaxy’s mass but not so hard that you can feel any small imperfections in the road.
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The new Ford S-Max is still the go-to Ford MPV if you like to drive briskly, even though both cars are less sharp to drive than their predecessors. Fortunately, the Galaxy is still infused with enough of Ford’s handling expertise.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but pay £1,550 extra for the Powershift automatic gearbox and the Galaxy becomes even smoother.
There are two turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines available: a 158bhp 1.5 and 237bhp 2.0 petrol. Neither are slow, as the former will reach 62mph in 10 seconds exactly and the latter is the fastest accelerating Galaxy, with 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds. The 1.5 has the lowest price point in the range and is good for low mileage drivers, while the powerful 2.0-litre is something of a performance flagship.
The diesels will take the overwhelming majority of sales, though. The 148bhp 2.0 TDCI will be the best seller – it takes 10.9 seconds to reach 62mph and has plenty of acceleration in the mid-range. A lower powered 119bhp version is also available but it doesn’t offer any economy or emissions benefits and is a lot slower to 62mph at 13.6 seconds, so it’s really just a cheaper option.
If you can stretch to the 178bhp version of the 2.0 TDCI, the extra pulling power is worth it, especially when you’ve got a fully loaded car. The 207bhp variant of the 2.0 TDCI is the most powerful of the diesels and is really quick for an MPV – it’s good for 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds – and offers heaps of mid-range punch.
Every version of the TDCi engine revs freely and there’s hardly any clatter that you might typically associate with a diesel, so it complements the Galaxy’s refined nature.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
For a car with such a gargantuan interior, fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures for the Ford Galaxy are impressive, although they still can’t match the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso’s class-leading figures of 99g/km and 74.3mpg.
The least powerful 119bhp 2.0 TDCI Galaxy fitted with a manual gearbox is also the cleanest in the range, returning 56.5mpg and 129g/km.
However, those are the exact same figures as the 148bhp 2.0 TDCI and 178bhp 2.0 TDCI models, as long as you stick with the six-speed manual. Order the six-speed auto transmission on the 178bhp model for example, and the figures change to 52.3mpg and 139g/km – and the four-wheel drive 148bhp model with a manual gearbox has identical economy and emissions figures.
At the top of the diesel range, the 207bhp TDCi unit returns 51.4mpg and 144g/km.
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The petrol models are only really worth considering if you cover relatively few miles, as even the 158bhp 1.5 EcoBoost model returns 43.5mpg and 149g/km, while the 237bhp 2.0 EcoBoost only manages 35.8mpg and 180g/km.
Insurance groups start at 17 for the entry-level 119bhp TDCi diesel model and are either 20 or 21 for the 148bhp version depending on the trim level. The 178bhp diesels are in group 24 and the top-end 207bhp version is in group 28. The Ecoboost petrols start at group 19 for the 1.5-litre 158bhp model, which rises to 20 and 21 as the trim levels increase, while the 237bhp 2.0-litre petrol is in group 26.
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is cheaper to insure, as groups start at 13 and top out at 25, comparable to the Volkswagen Sharan (which spans groups 15 to 23).
Ford’s residual values tend to be rather middle of the road compared to rivals such as Volkswagen, which generally has very strong resale values. However, go for a good mid-level diesel model and the Galaxy is likely to hold onto its money comparably well. It’s also probably a safer bet than the rival Grand C4 Picasso in this regard, as Citroens tend to depreciate quite heavily.
Interior, design and technology
When a car’s job is to cram in seven seats and 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 its face.
The biggest change is at the front, where the chrome grille has been sharpened and stripped of its Ford badge, which now sits on the edge of the bonnet. Mid-level Titanium models come with 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 alloy wheels as an option on Titanium models.
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At the rear, the large taillights have a black outline and they merge with the rear window, which also forms the upper edge of the number plate recess. Overall, the Galaxy looks upmarket, although the single standard colour is a rather drab dark blue – white paint costs £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. A 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.
Sat-nav, stero and infotainment
The Galaxy comes with Ford’s Sync 2, an eight-inch high-resolution central touch screen system, as standard. This includes a DAB radio, aux and USB sockets, Bluetooth, an SD card slot and eight speakers. The touch screen system means there aren’t too many buttons all over the dash, so the display is cleaner.
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Mid-level Titanium models add Ford’s sat-nav system, while 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.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
With its higher price tag, blunter handling and boxier styling, practicality is the only real reason customers will choose the Galaxy over the smaller Ford S-MAX – even though both are seven-seaters. Luckily, it delivers big time with an enormous boot, an interior littered with clever cubby holes and a hugely versatile seating layout.
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 armrest. You sit high, with a big windscreen and a good view of the road, while standard front and rear parking sensors make low-speed manoeuvring that bit easier.
The Galaxy is 4,848mm long, 1,916mm wide and 1,747mm tall, so it’s a big car. It’s very similar in proportion to rival MPVs such as the Volkswagen Sharan (4,854mm long, 1,904mm wide and 1,720mm tall) though it is a bit bigger than the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, which is 4,597mm long, 1,826mm wide and 1,625mm tall.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The Galaxy has one of the most spacious and practical interiors of any MPV on sale. Whereas the smaller Ford S-MAX’s rearmost seats are really only for children, the Galaxy has just about enough space for two adults back there. The second row slides back and forth individually, too, if you need more legroom.
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The seating system itself is simple to use. 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 have to lift them up again manually.
A powered tailgate 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 folded down and 2,339 litres with just the front two seats in place – that’s compared to 285/965/2,020 litres respectively in the S-MAX.
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In terms of towing, petrol-engined models can handle 1,800kg and diesels stretch to 2,000kg.
Reliability and Safety
The Galaxy received the full five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP with good scores in the individual categories: 87% for both adult and child occupants, 79% for pedestrian impacts and 71% for safety assistance.
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.
The current Galaxy is too new to have appeared in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but Ford itself finished in 25th place out of 32 in the manufacturer table in both 2014 and 2015. That isn’t a great result, and build quality and reliability were some of the poorer individual results, but the newer Galaxy may improve matters.
Ford’s warranty is a standard three-year/60,000-mile package. While that’s the same as mainstream manufacturers such as Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Peugeot, it isn’t difficult to find a manufacturer selling a seven-seat MPV with a better warranty. Kia and Toyota are two of the best examples, as they both have seven-seater MPVs in their stables and offer cover spanning seven years/100,000 miles and five years/100,000 miles respectively.
Ford recommends a main service every 12,500 miles for petrol-engined versions of the Galaxy and every 18,000 miles for diesel models. The firm offers a monthly payment service plan known as Service Assure, though the exact cost is based on individual circumstances.