2015 Ford Galaxy at a glance
- Handling: ★★★☆☆
- Performance: ★★★☆☆
- Design: ★★★☆☆
- Interior: ★★★★☆
- Practicality: ★★★★★
- Costs: ★★★★☆
THERE COMES a moment for every family when a line must be drawn in the sand, the squabbling can go on no longer and a decision has to be reached: it’s time to buy a bigger car.
They don’t come much bigger than the Ford Galaxy. This seven-seat people carrier, or MPV, is the largest car of its type – almost as large, indeed, as some metropolitan studio flats – and is ideal for mums and dads with three children or more to ferry about.
Mums and dads aren’t the only buyers of the Galaxy, however. This is a workhorse that’s popular with taxi drivers who need plenty of space and seating to shuttle groups of party people about city centres or holidaymakers off to the airport.
It’s larger than all of Ford’s other people carriers, including the S-Max, with which it shares its platform, engines and interior fittings. So if it’s space you’re after above all else, you should test-drive the Galaxy.
The starting price for all this space is £26,445 (an S-Max costs from £24,545) for a 1.5 SCTi 160 Zetec, and the range goes up to £36,760 for the 2.0 TDCi 180 Powershift AWD Titanium X. For comparison, the Galaxy is more expensive than the Seat Alhambra (from £24,885) but on a par with the Volkswagen Sharan (from £26,300).
We tested the 2.0 TDCi 180 in Titanium trim, which costs £30,795. With its metallic black paint and tinted rear windows, it gave the strong sense that, armed with a smartphone and the Uber app, we could make a quick buck on the side accepting fares.
The Galaxy has always been a bit van-like in its appearance for some tastes, but for others the boxy body is the key to an interior that’s spacious and versatile.
The interior reveals more storage solutions than an Ikea catalogue
The dashboard is simply presented, with a touchscreen infotainment system (called Sync 2) positioned high up and controlling most of the day-to-day functions, and digital dials ahead of the driver. The driving position is upright – like that of a van driver, you might say – which can become a pain in the leg, as the clutch has a sharp bite and heavy action. Our choice would, then, be the Powershift automatic gearbox, which is well worth the extra £1,550.
Start pushing buttons and lifting lids and the Galaxy reveals more storage solutions than an Ikea catalogue. There are enough drinks holders for a football team, and phones, wallets and all manner of odds and ends can be packed away. With a car like this you should never again find your feet impeded by bottles of bubble mixture, small balls or toy dinosaurs rolling around on the floor as you try to brake.
In the back, tray tables, big door bins and a generous helping of ventilation ducts keep passengers happy. They’ll be equally pleased with the seating arrangements. There are three large seats, which can be adjusted independently, and the two outer seats tilt and automatically slide forward to give a nice wide space to climb through into the third row of seats.
That third row can be raised at the touch of a button in the boot (the middle seats are folded remotely) and they genuinely are comfortable enough for adults, as long as the middle seats are inched forward slightly.
As for the boot, it’s a vast expanse just waiting to be piled high with pushchairs, bags, pets, shabby-chic antique furniture finds or the remains of that bathroom Dad spent years promising he’d rip out and replace. With all seven seats in use, and filled to the roof, there’s 300 litres available; with five seats 1,301 litres; and when just two seats are in use, a whopping 2,339 litres of capacity is available. With five seats in use and the boot loaded to the window line, there’s still 700 litres of capacity.
The one omission by the Galaxy’s designers is sliding rear doors, which greatly improve ease of access.
So it’s spacious, more spacious than other MPVs or seven-seat SUVs, but what’s it like to drive? In a word, sensible. The suspension gives a comfortable ride, there’s not much noise on the move and the 177bhp four-cylinder diesel engine (no six-cylinder units are available here) pulls well from just 1500rpm, even when the car’s fully laden. We managed an average of 45mpg, not far off the claimed figure of 52.3mpg.
However, it’s not remotely fun to drive. The Ford S-Max feels much more responsive – but the trade-off is quite a bit of cabin space. Press on along a country road and the height and weight gets the better of the suspension, at times setting the car heaving around. The optional (£375) self-levelling suspension system should improve matters.
Other reasons to buy a Galaxy? Some versions have four-wheel drive (we haven’t tried one yet). It’s safe, scoring a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test rating. And it has a host of gadgets and gizmos, including self-parking technology, lane-keeping assistance and a speed sign recognition system that can slow the car should it stray over the limit.
Above all else, though, you buy this sort of car because it’s spacious and comfortable. If the time has come for your family to buy a bigger car, they still don’t come much bigger than the Galaxy.
2015 Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi 180 Titanium
- Engine: 1997cc, 4 cylinders, turbodiesel
- Power: 177bhp @ 3500rpm
- Torque: 295 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.8sec
- Top speed: 129mph
- Fuel: 56.5mpg (combined)
- CO2: 129g/km
- Road tax band: D (free in first year; £110 thereafter*)
- Price: £30,795
- Release date: On sale now
*Correct at time of publication