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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
£38,540 to £42,150
  • Versatile seating
  • Comfortable ride
  • Lots of room inside
  • Not that fun to drive
  • Tight third row
  • Vignale trim is pricey
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,700

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.5 FHEV 190 Titanium 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £38,240

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue 190 ST-Line 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,400
Senior test editor

Dean has been part of the Auto Express team for more than 20 years, and has worked across nearly all departments, starting on magazine production, then moving to road tests and reviews. He's our resident van expert, but covers everything from scooters and motorbikes to supercars and consumer products.

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