Ford Galaxy MPV
Price: £25,465 - £34,125
- Lots of space
- Strong engines
- Comfortable and fun to drive
- Boxy taxi-like looks
- Pricier than rivals
- Ford S-MAX cheaper and nearly as big
"The Ford Galaxy is massive, luxurious, and better value than a 4x4. It also gets the mix of driving enjoyment and ride comfort spot-on."
The Ford Galaxy MPV is a big, practical and luxurious people carrier with more than enough room for seven adults to sit in comfort. The car doesn’t pitch or roll too much in corners and performs well enough overall that it always feels like a car rather than a van.
You get to choose from a wide range of efficient diesel engines, starting with the underpowered 113bhp engine and moving up to a fast-but-economical 161bhp version. The addition of a 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo capable of returning 39mpg in combined fuel economy adds to the Galaxy's desirability.It costs about the same as its competition, with the Galaxy's boxy dimensions somewhat less appealing compared to its slightly smaller and cheaper sibling, the Ford S-MAX.
The Galaxy is available in three main specifications – the entry-level Zetec, mid-range Titanium and top-of-the-range Titanium X. The Zetec comes fitted with electric windows and air-conditioning, while the top-spec Titanium is very well equipped.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesels all offer good economy of around 45mpg
The diesel engines rule in terms of efficiency, despite the addition of Ford's super-frugal EcoBoost petrol engines to the list of engine options. The 138bhp 2.0-litre TDCi diesel returns 47.1mpg in combined fuel economy and emits 152g/km of CO2, so keeps running costs, road tax and insurance all affordable. The entry-level 113bhp model returns more than 50mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2, reducing the tax bill, but it does tend to labour if fully laden with luggage and passengers. There's also a lot of tyre wear and you’ll need to get any diesel engine regularly serviced thanks to the Galaxy's size.
Interior & comfort
Not the best in class but still comfortable
The Galaxy is roomy, quiet and comfortable, with supportive seats that combine with its soft suspension to iron out most lumps and bumps in the road. Sadly, it's not the same story on the motorway, where road, wind and engine noise become intrusive, fighting against the volume of the optional TVs in the back for dominance. The cabin is certainly not conducive to quiet conversation on long motorway journeys. On the whole, it's a calm, enjoyable car to be in on short drives and an adequate one on longer ones.
Practicality & boot space
Loads of space with the seats down
The bigger Galaxy was always meant to more practical and luxurious than the S-MAX MPV that it was developed alongside, but in reality, only the Galaxy's extra boot space and headroom nudges it ahead of its smaller sibling. That boot only offers 308 litres of space – about the same as a supermini – with all seven seats in place. Fortunately the third row of seats will comfortably accommodate two adults when many of its rivals are too cramped.
Overall, it really is impressively practical, with the hatchback-style boot lid making loading really easy. Fold down all the rear seats into the floor and the boot expands to an absolutely huge 2,325 litres of space, which is much more than any estate car on the UK market and even better than some vans. Access is good to all the seats when they’re in place, and the driving position is excellent – not too high or too low, so you feel connected to the road but also have a great view because of narrow windscreen pillars on the front of the car.
Reliability & safety
Reliability is reasonable, safety is excellent
The current Galaxy – Ford's first people carrier - has been around since 2006 and has had a few recalls, but no more than its main competitors. It has been updated so it looks and performs better than ever. However, both the Galaxy and the S-MAX don’t tend to do very well in customer satisfaction surveys. In the 2013 Driver Power survey, for instance, the Galaxy only placed 89th in the list of the top 100 cars, with build quality and reliability two of its main problem areas. Ford itself hasn’t fared much better, coming 23rd out of 32 in the manufacturers rankings, which is actually an increase of two places on its 2012 position. However, Ford has its huge dealership presence up its sleeve, and a surfeit of affordable spare parts and components in the market.
The Galaxy was awarded the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, coming equipped with front and side front airbags, side airbags in the rear and a knee airbag for the driver, electronic stability control (ESP) and traction control as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Good to drive despite its size
Ford is the king of driver fun and ride comfort in one package, and the Galaxy benefits from this know-how, feeling more compact behind the wheel than its boxy dimensions suggest. Precise steering and efficient suspension are mixed with an excellent driving position to make it very easy to zip the Galaxy down narrow streets and around winding roads.
Body roll is minimal through the corners – noticeably less than many rivals – but its five-metre length makes parking a bit tricky. A more powerful, sportier 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine is available for those with the need for speed, or you can opt for the more economical 1.6-litre petrol turbo. However, all the 2.0-litre TDCi diesels are more efficient and hushed so will better suit most drivers, with the Zetec 138bhp version being our recommendation. You can also add Ford's smooth and effective Powershift automatic gearbox – but only if you can afford the additional £1,500.
Price, value for money & options
Expensive when compared to rivals but well equipped
The Galaxy is fairly expensive – particularly when the S-MAX is nearly £2,500 cheaper and doesn’t feel that much smaller – but it does offer genuine quality and lots of equipment and accessories. The entry-level Zetec model comes fitted with all-around electric windows, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity as standard, while Titanium cars also get automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, rear air-conditioning, DAB digital radio and USB connectivity. The top-spec Titanium X also adds leather seats and a panoramic glass roof that makes the interior feel very bright and airy. Fords have historically performed well in the used car market, so you can expect the Galaxy to have strong resale value when you do decide to look for a good second-hand deal.
What the others say
"Ford has really raised the game with this car and its engineering levels are very high. The quality of the materials that make up the dash are truly impressive, as is their fit and finish. Sure it cheapens as you migrate backwards, but if you ain't paying Audi prices, you can't expect Audi finesse in the third-row ashtrays."
"Whichever version of the Galaxy you choose, you'll find confidence-inspiring handling and a composed and well-controlled approach to corners. Compared to softer competitors, this nimble, dynamic attitude reinforces the Ford's car-like feel. Yet while noise levels are all but a match for the class best, the Ford's firmer ride does make it less relaxing. Petrol and diesel engines should all be familiar, and it's the TDCi oil-burners that offer the easier-going performance."
"Quality grumbles include bits of trim falling off. Sidelights failing. Info system saying alarm needs servicing. Failure of brake vacuum pump on 2.0 TDCI has been reported by several readers. Electric windows sporadically either will not operate at all or close and then immediately re-open by themselves. However, Addison Lee runs about 2,000 Galaxy 2.0TDCI automatics as private hire cars in the London area and has very little trouble."
"The Ford Galaxy is a very popular people carrier and it's not hard to see why. Practical, spacious and car-like to drive it comes with a great range of engines including some very economical diesels. All models come with seven independent seats and the rear five easily fold flat to create a huge load space while there are more than 30 stowage compartments on board."
Last updated: 13 Jan 2014