"The five-door Mondeo has a massive boot, loads of passenger space and the most comfortable ride of any family car."
The winner of our 2011 Best Large Family Car award, the Ford Mondeo has been popular for nearly six years since its launch in 2007. But even though it's an older model and its popularity means it's very common on UK roads, it's still one of the best family cars on the market and is anything but average. The five-door Mondeo hatchback has a massive boot, loads of passenger space and one of the most comfortable rides in the class. And it's still fun to drive, too. It's also relatively well equipped, with even the entry-level Edge model coming with air-conditioning and alloy wheels as standard. While top-of-the-range Titanium cars are very well stocked with technology. The diesel engines are the best on offer – especially the turbocharged models. A 2010 facelift added LED lights on top-spec models, and kept it looking quite fresh for a car of its age. It may not match the Volkswagen Passat for quality and resale values, but the Mondeo outpaces the Vauxhall Insignia is almost every respect.
The Mondeo was launched in 2007, and cemented Ford's reputation for making cars that outshine its competitors. That's because it doesn’t have any major flaws. As well as a comfortable, pothole-absorbing ride and a widely adjustable driving position, it's also fun to drive. Zetec models have stiffer suspension for a sportier feel, although they’re still comfortable on most roads. The small 1.6-litre petrol engine feels underpowered, but the latest 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost engines are great. The diesels – ranging from 1.6 to 2.2 litres – all offer good economy and enough power to tow heavy loads.
More expensive executive cars could learn a valuable lesson in comfort from the Mondeo. Even the poorest UK road surfaces – which are pretty poor, let's be honest – are smoothed out by the Mondeo's supple suspension, with good body control and minimal roll in the corners, so occupants aren’t skaken up. And thanks to the masses of space inside, passengers in the front and back enjoy plenty of head, elbow and legroom. In fact, you can carry five six-foot adults with ease. A massive range of reach-and-rake steering and drivers seat adjustment makes it very easy to find a good driving position, too. The Mondeo is about as comfortable as a family car can be.
Even though the Mondeo is getting on a bit, there are still no major reliability or safety issues to report. It's only recently that it's fallen below number 50 in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, previously coming as high as 11 in previous lists of the top 100 cars, giving Ford its highest ever placement in the list, ahead of the compact executive cars from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. All cars come with seven airbags, and electronic stability and traction control as standard. It scored the maximum five-star rating the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, making it still one of the safest cars on the road.
With a boot capacity of 528 litres with the rear seats in place, the Mondeo has more luggage space than it's main rival, the Vauxhall Insignia. Plus, the split-folding rear seats add even more flexibility, opening out the boot to a massive 1,448 litres. The boot opening is also nice and large, so loading bulky items is easy, too. Thanks to its roomy dimensions, the interior is so big, there's genuinely enough space for five six-foot adults to sit comfortably, with Ford paying attention to points such as wide-opening doors for easy access to maximise its practicality. The driver's seat is fully adjustable, as is the steering wheel, so every driver can get comfy with good visibility.
Value for money
List prices are quite wide-ranging thanks to a vast amount of choice in engines and specifications. All models are well equipped, however, coming fitted with alloy wheels, air-conditioning and seven airbags for safety as standard. Entry-level Edge models are also equipped with cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity. Top-spec Titanium models add MP3 connectivity, rear parking sensors and climate control as well. The interior quality is excellent, well laid out and very easy to use – even if its age means a Passat or Insignia does feel more modern inside. Sadly, resale values aren’t very good because of so many being available over its long life and a poor reputation as a ‘sales rep’ car – on average Mondeo's only retain approximately 37 per cent of their value after three years of ownership.
For the best day-to-day economy, the diesel engines are the only choice in the Mondeo, but they are more expensive to buy, so make sure that you’re doing enough miles on a regular basis to justify the extra outlay. The 138bhp 2.0-litre TDCi is a sound and popular choice, returning more than 50mpg while retaining plenty of power and emitting 139g/km of CO2. The 1.6-litre TDCI diesel ECOnetic model with start-stop is even more fuel efficient, returning 65.7mpg and emitting only 114g/km of CO2. The petrol engines are best avoided, as they have the worst economy, lower resale values and highest emissions in the range. And stick with the manual gearbox as the automatic further reduces economy.