Plus a much more efficient engine range that could see you running one of these with the kind of frugality and cleanliness you’d expect from a conventional medium range estate. One thing hasn’t changed though: unlike more compact seven-seat models, adults can sit comfortably in the third row. A Galaxy should, after all, prioritise space. It still does.
This MK4 Galaxy model adopts the more comfort-orientated platform used on the fourth generation Mondeo, so it’s a touch softer and more relaxing to drive than before, with redesigned electrically-assisted steering that’s more efficient but isn’t quite as feelsome as the previous hydraulic set-up. This is still though, one of the better large MPVs to drive. Intentionally, Ford hasn’t replicated here quite the dynamic sharpness that you get in their comparably-sized S-MAX MPV, but the car still shrinks around you in a very Mondeo-like manner, making it seem less bulky than it actually is. The new Integral-Link rear suspension helps in this regard, as does the Torque vectoring system that lightly brakes the inside front wheel through tight bends, sharpening turn-in and ensuring that all the power gets onto the tarmac.
On to the rejuvenated engine range. Ford is continuing to offer some petrol options that now use SCTi EcoBoost technology – a 160PS 1. 5-litre unit and a 240PS 2. 0-litre powerplant – but almost all buyers will ignore it and opt for one of the 2. 0-litre TDCi diesels. The 120, 150 and 180PS variants of this unit can record 56. 5mpg on the combined cycle and 129g/km of CO2, while at the top of the range, there’s a 210PS Bi-Turbo TDCi variant that’s nearly as clean and frugal. Whichever unit you choose, you can mate it to a lot of clever technology, including a speed limiter that adjusts automatically to roadsigns, a glare-free high beam system and the option of Intelligent All Wheel Drive.
You wouldn’t expect this fourth generation Galaxy to look especially dynamic. Ford does, after all, offer a comparably-sized S-MAX MPV if that’s what you want. It should though, appear modern and purposeful – or, to use Ford terminology, ‘contemporary’ and ‘sophisticated’. Most potential buyers will probably think that it does.
Time to take a seat behind the wheel. That vast glass area combines with the slim windscreen pillars to create excellent all-round visibility, plus it’s easy to find the ideal driving position thanks to the considerable amount of seat and wheel adjustment provided and the way the headrests go forward and back as well as up and down.
Ahead of you through the leather-trimmed three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, there’s a clear, classy instrument cluster that in mid and upper-range models gives you a sophisticated 10. 1-inch TFT set-up made up of various inset multi-function displays. The two outer ones are framed by conventional speedometer and rev counter gauges, with trip computer information on the left and safety functionality depicted on the right. In the middle, you get ‘entertainment, Navigation and Phone options.
Anything this set-up can’t tell you will probably be covered by the feature that on all models dominates the centre of the dash, the 8-inch SYNC 3 colour touchscreen, there to play its part in reducing button clutter and giving the cabin a cleaner, smarter feel.
Time to move rearwards. We’ll start in the middle row. Here, you’ll find that the three individual seats provided do most of what MPV buyers would expect them to do, sliding back and forth and reclining for greater comfort on longer journeys.
Let’s check out the third row, now a little more easily accessible thanks both to a recessed floor design and this ‘Easy-Entry’ one-touch mechanism that tilts and slides the seat forward, up and out of your way.
It’s at this point that you’ll cash in on this car’s extra size. The boxy shape delivers significantly more headroom than you’d get in an S-MAX. As a result, in a Galaxy, you can use the seats at the back for adults on longer trips.
On to bootspace. when all the seats are upright in the Galaxy, you get 300-litres to play with, 15-litres more than is provided by the S-MAX.
In this Ford, these extra rearmost seats fold neatly into the floor and can do so with electrical assistance. Once the two chairs are retracted, up to 1,301-litres of space is freed up (336-litres more than you’d get in an S-MAX) and can be covered by this useful reversible/foldable loading mat which comes included in the optional ‘Family Pack’.
For ultimate carriage capacity, you can of course fold forward the individual middle row chairs. In all Galaxy models, these seats are flattened electrically and once you’ve got used to this, it’s a rather nice feature to have, making it a little annoying that you’ll always have to raise them back up manually. Anyway, once the middle row is flat, it frees up a vast area, 2,339-litres in size.
When you consider the kinds of buyers who actually go out and purchase big seven-seat MPVs and the things they actually need, you could easily make a case for this considerably improved fourth generation Ford Galaxy being a better car than its S-MAX sister vehicle. Where the sportily-styled S-MAX majors on combining driving vigour with MPV practicality, this Galaxy just gets on with the job in hand, that of fulfilling the traditional People Carrying role. It’s immensely practical, very well built and still drives better than most of its rivals.
To replicate this car’s handling, you’d need something smaller. To match or beat its practicality and space, you’d need something more ponderous to drive. It is in short, a very complete proposition indeed. Or, as Ford puts it, a ‘first class’ way to travel.