The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
Take our advice and ignore the slightly tarnished taxi airport run image, because the Ford Galaxy is one of the best full-sized seven-seat MPVs money can buy. Although it’s a big old bus, it never feels like it from behind the wheel. Even when it’s fully laden, it always feels controlled and seldom feels underpowered, thanks to its strong range of diesel engines. Inside, the Galaxy offers everything a growing family could desire, including loads of space, superb all-round visibility, smartly trimmed upholstery, great versatility and oodles of storage solutions.
Reasons to buy
- Cabin provides lots of space for seven
- Comfortable and enjoyable to drive
- Strong diesel engines
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The Ford designer’s creative options must have been somewhat limited when it came to sketching the Galaxy, because let’s face it, if you really want to maximise space for up-to seven people, what you really need is a slab-sided box. That said, the Galaxy’s latest corporate front-end styling, subtle side creases, swish roof bars and tasty alloy wheels all help it look a fair bit classier and less ungainly than many of its ‘panel-van-with-windows’ rivals. All models get 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, although Zetec cars miss out on the glitzy LED daytime running lights and some of the desirable highlights the higher spec versions enjoy. Titanium trim adds a splash of chrome to the roof rails, front grille and window surrounds, and sets things off with smoked rear privacy glass. Titanium X brings a full length electrically-operated panoramic sun roof and the additional wow factor of an electrically powered rear tailgate.
What's the interior like?
From behind the wheel, the Galaxy shares many of its interior components with the Mondeo family car and the Edge SUV, which means it shares many of the same strengths.
The seats are wonderfully supportive and the driving position is spot-on, while the latest SYNC3 touch-screen infotainment system that controls most of the car’s major functions features big, easy-to-hit icons, and is fairly intuitive to use. Most of the materials in the cabin look and feel pretty plush, especially on the doors, vents and steering wheel, and even the harder plastics used in the lower reaches are designed to resist the hard knocks and scrapes dished out by everyday family life. Vast amounts of glass ensure the cabin is always flooded with light and it also helps provide excellent visibility, so despite the Galaxy’s considerable dimensions, it's pretty easy to judge where its extremities end when parking.
How practical is it?
Anyone sitting in the front five seats will be spoiled for space, regardless of their size, but the Galaxy’s real trump card is its ability to accommodate two adults in the rearmost two chairs with almost the same levels of comfort. However, that’s providing those in the middle row are willing to sacrifice a little knee-room by sliding their chairs forward. On top of this, all five of the individual seats behind the driver collapse at the drop of a hat to create loads of different configurations. Simply massive in two-seat mode, more than big enough to accommodate a family’s holiday luggage with five seats in place, and providing enough space behind the rearmost seats to jam in the weekly shop when travelling seven-up, the Galaxy boasts hugely impressive versatility. Also included are seat back trays and masses of storage solutions, including a vast glovebox, under seat bins and a large overhead console. Although the Galaxy doesn’t have sliding rear doors like some rivals, which can make getting into the back of the car easier when parked in tight spaces, gaining access to the rearmost seat of the Galaxy still isn’t too much of a palaver thanks to wide opening doors and sliding middle row seats.
What's it like to drive?
Crucially, for a car that’s primarily designed to ferry families, the Galaxy delivers a smooth, comfortable ride and exceptional body control, so there’s very little danger of the kids ever feeling queasy, even when they are engrossed in their favourite movie. While the kids will be happy as Larry, so will the driver. Although the Galaxy is a big, heavy car, you’re rarely aware of its bulk thanks to plentiful grip and responsive, connected steering. As we always say, a good handling car is also a safe car because it helps you feel in control of proceedings. Impressive rolling refinement is another Galaxy highlight. With very little audible road- and wind-noise, even at motorway speeds, it’s an impressively quiet and relaxed long distance cruiser.
How powerful is it?
When it comes to cars of this size and weight, muscular diesel engines will always be the most sensible choice. Four are available in the Galaxy, although all are effectively different versions of the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder lump, delivering 118bhp, 148bhp, 178bhp and 207bhp. For most people, the 178bhp version will probably offer the best compromise between economy and performance, as it pulls strongly from low revs, meaning you can build speed without having to downshift too often. If, however, you regularly carry a full car, the stronger twin-turbo 207bhp motor linked to the standard six speed automatic gearbox is the one to go for. Refinement of both of these motors is more than impressive, as noise and vibration are effectively isolated from the cabin even when you work them hard. They’ll be a lot less popular, but a couple of turbocharged petrol engines are also available: a 1.5 with 158bhp and a 2.0-litre with 237bhp. Performance isn’t an issue with the more powerful of the two, but it can sound a bit strained when you work it up through the rev range.
How much will it cost me?
There are many good reasons why so many taxi drivers choose to run Galaxys. The sheer amount of space and versatility on offer is a major factor, but so are the infrequency and affordability of Ford’s maintenance schedules, and the Galaxy’s competitive fuel returns. Much of the same logic applies to private buyers. While all the diesel engines exceed 50mpg on the official combined cycle, maintenance pit stops are only necessary every 20,000 miles. Although the advertised list price may look a little steep, you can largely ignore this because Ford is renowned for sweetening the deal with some very tempting discounts. The Galaxy is also a highly sought after used vehicle and consequently, residual values remain encouragingly strong.
How reliable is it?
Looking at Warranty Direct’s reliability survey results, Ford is currently flying pretty high in the manufacturer rankings, sitting comfortably inside the top ten of all manufacturers surveyed. While everything you see and touch in the Galaxy looks and feels robustly constructed, many of the mechanical components are shared across the Ford portfolio and are well proven. Fords are also traditionally cheap to repair and service, so if something should go wrong, it’s not likely to break the bank.
How safe is it?
Safety will no doubt be high on the agenda of anyone considering an MPV, so the fact the Galaxy scored a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP will be encouraging news to those buyers. As well as the usual host of airbags, including one to protect the driver’s knees, a trio of Isofix child-seat mounting points are also fitted to the second-row seats to lock child seats in place. There are also additional assistance systems to help make your motoring as safe as possible, including lane keep assist that will tweak the steering to bump you back into your lane should you inadvertently drift over the white line without indicating. This, and traffic sign recognition that keeps you informed of the speed limit, is standard on all but the base models, as is an autonomous braking system that uses the forward-facing camera and radar to identify potential frontal collisions and automatically apply the brakes if you fail to react. As well as front and rear parking sensors, Ford also offers a front facing camera that provides a view left and right, which helps when driving forwards out of parking spaces when your lateral view is impaired.
How much equipment do I get?
Dual zone climate control plus rear air-conditioning, electrically-operated and heated folding door mirrors, and remote-central-locking, are standard on all Galaxys, as is an electrically heated Quickclear windscreen and front and rear parking sensors. That said, stepping up to Titanium trim may well be worth the extra, as you gain lots of trim enhancements as well as a 10-inch colour TFT instruments cluster display, keyless entry, automatic high beam activation, rain sensing front windscreen wipers and cruise control. Give the boat a big old push and Titanium X adds an electrically-operated panoramic roof with power sunblind, funkier 17-inch alloys, a powered tailgate (button and key fob operated) a rear-view camera, and leather seats all-round with heated driver and front passenger seats. For those who could well do without the hassle, automatic parking that steers you into and out of parking spaces – both parallel and perpendicular – is also standard on Titanium X and optional on the more basic models. If you’re keen to tow a caravan, or you’re just after some extra traction for tricky winter conditions, you can choose to add an intelligent four-wheel drive system to the 148bhp and 178hp diesels. Also, if you regularly carry a full complement of passengers or intend to use your Galaxy to tow, it’s probably best to invest in the self-levelling rear-suspension, which is an option on all models.
As its name suggests, the Galaxy is simply enormous inside, while its family-friendly layout, high-quality interior and seating versatility make it one of the best MPVs you can buy. It’s also surprisingly good to drive, providing an excellent driving position, great visibility, and beautifully weighted controls. While the suspension exhibits just the right amount of comfort and control, the added bonus of excellent refinement and strong pulling power ensure the Galaxy really is as good as MPVs get.