In-depth reviews

Ford S-MAX review

The Ford S-MAX is a mature and grown-up family car that's comfortable and practical

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£30,200 to £39,885
  • Versatile seating
  • Comfortable ride
  • Lots of room inside
  • Not that fun to drive
  • Tight third row
  • Vignale trim is pricey

Ford pioneered the fun-to-drive MPV with the first S-MAX, but the latest model is an even more rounded product. The S-MAX drives like a plush family saloon, yet offers seven-seat practicality. It's more comfortable than the previous model and packed with enough technology to shame even some luxury saloons. There's a great range of engines, too.

It’s not perfect, however. The S-MAX's rivals offer more space inside, sliding doors and more room for adults in all seven seats. Ford's larger Galaxy is a better choice if you want a similar car with more room, although it is more expensive.

The high kit levels mean the S-MAX can look rather pricey against some of its rivals, too, while the Mondeo-based dashboard won't win many points for style or ease of use. 

Best MPVs and people carriers

Still, the S-MAX is an excellent MPV and should definitely be on your shortlist if you're looking for a seven-seater, with driving manners to shame everything this side of a BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer.

The Ford S-MAX is for sale alongside the Galaxy in the Ford MPV range, with both cars offering seven-seater interiors and plenty of practical space. So what's the difference between the S-MAX and the Galaxy? Well, the Galaxy is larger, and while both models come in Zetec, Titanium and Vignale trims, the S-MAX also comes in sportier ST-Line trim.

Overall, the S-MAX is designed to be the sportier option, although it no longer offers the kind of driving fun that the original S-MAX delivered. It's a softer, more comfortable proposition, and offers enough space for most needs.

In terms of rivals, the S-MAX has the Galaxy to go up against, plus the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer (formerly Picasso), Renault Grand Scenic, BMW 2 Series Gran TourerVolkswagen Sharan and SEAT Alhambra. There are also van-based MPVs like the Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller that are worth considering if space is a higher priority than luxury and car-like driving manners.

Under the skin, the S-MAX uses a platform that's shared with the Galaxy and the Mondeo family car, too. The range is powered by either a 1.5 EcoBoost 165 petrol with 163bhp – now absent from official price lists – or a 2.0 EcoBlue diesel in two power outputs (150 or 190PS, with 148bhp or 187bhp). There are six-speed manual and eight-speed auto gearbox options, while the range is front-wheel drive with the option of AWD four-wheel drive offered on selected models.

Prices for the S-MAX range start from around £30,500 for the entry-level Zetec petrol, while Titanium trim is around £1,900 extra and sporty ST-Line starts from around £32,500. Top-spec Vignale weighs in at around £40,500, although it's very well equipped.

If you need a family car with space to spare, then the Ford S-MAX is still a worthwhile option in a world obsessed by SUVs. There's more space than you'll get in any 4x4, and running costs will be on a par with an off-road family car, too. The current S-MAX isn't as fun to drive as its predecessor, but it's a comfortable and refined car with a decent amount of tech on offer.

For an alternative review of the latest Ford S-MAX MPV visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,200

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,200

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue 190 ST-Line 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,900

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