Ford S-MAX review
The Ford S-MAX is a mature and grown-up family car that's comfortable and practical
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.
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 Tourer, Volkswagen 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.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Ford S-MAX is a mature and grown-up family car that's comfortable and practical
- 2Engines, performance and driveDecent to drive, comfortable on the motorway, the S-MAX is best in class
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsNot as efficient as rivals, petrol engines should be avoided if fuel economy is priority
- 4Interior, design and technologyBy far the most handsome MPV in its class, with sleek lines and classy interior
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceVersatile and spacious, the S-MAX is well equipped for the needs of growing families
- 6Reliability and SafetyPlenty of safety tech on board and a five-star Euro NCAP rating