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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Good to drive, spacious and practical

Against Early build quality problems, boot space

Verdict A seven-seater for people who don't like MPVs

Go for… 2.0 TDCI 140 Zetec

Avoid… 2.5 Titanium

Ford S-Max MPV
  • 1. Electrical problems can affect the car, including the windscreen wipers
  • 2. Another common electrical fault drains the battery in just a couple of days
  • 3. Give all the trim a thorough examination and take a test drive - it should expose rattles and loose trim
  • 4. There can be unexplained steering clunks, but dealers can fix them.
  • 5. Interior is practical and the car is fun to drive
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Ford S-Max MPV full review with expert trade views

The Ford S-Max is a rare beast - an MPV that's fun to drive. It's got lots of grip through corners, and body roll is kept in check, making it great on twisty roads. The suspension absorbs most bumps to give a comfortable ride, yet the steering is sharp and responsive.

If you're looking for a larger seven-seater, then consider the Ford Galaxy (06-), which, although similar to the S-Max, is longer and taller, giving passengers more space.

The first two rows of seats in the S-Max have plenty of leg and headroom, but although the third row of seats is fine for kids, taller passengers will struggle. Access is easy enough, however.

All five rear seats fold flat into the boot floor when they're not needed. Plenty of boot space means you can carry bulky loads with ease, and even with all seven seats in place, there's still enough room for a couple of bags.

Trade view

Cracking to drive and practical. Car supermarkets are a good place to track down well-priced examples.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

From the three petrol and three diesel engines available, you're best sticking to the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The 1.8-litre diesel is slightly more economical, but isn't always up to hauling the S-Max when fully laden.

There is a less powerful version of the 2.0-litre diesel (127bhp), which is an acceptable alternative, and a 2.2-litre engine with an impressive 173bhp.

Both the 2.0- and 2.3-litre petrol engines are smooth, but the fuel economy may put you off. The 2.5-litre turbocharged engine is fast, but even less economical. An automatic gearbox is available with the 2.3-litre petrol model and 127bhp 2.0-litre diesel models (137bhp from May 2008), but it does hurt economy further.

Along with the LX model, the Zetec is the most common trim on the used market and, as with other Fords, offers the best combination of trim and specification. LX is acceptable if you're on a tighter budget.

On examples sold from May 2008, the entry-level model is badged as Edge instead of LX. Titanium models feel luxurious, but don't pay over the odds for all those extras, as you won't see much extra cash when it's time to part-exchange.

Trade view

A good MPV, but some examples are plagued by problems, and owners are less than impressed.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The diesel models come into their own if you intend to cover some serious miles. The 137bhp 2.0-litre manages an average of 44.1mpg (38.7 for the 127bhp model), compared with 34.8mpg for the 2.0-litre petrol model. The petrol model will be cheap to buy, so think carefully about how many miles you'll need to cover to offset the extra purchase cost of the diesel car, as well as the price of diesel.

Insurance for the range varies between groups 11 and 14, about average for this class of car, and Ford dealers are generally one of the cheaper franchised dealers when it comes to service rates. You should still shop around for the best price, though.

The petrol models fall into the top two bands for road tax due to their high emissions, and bear in mind that the Government plans to increase the cost of taxing high-emission vehicles over the next few years as part of its plans to cut carbon dioxide pollution.

Trade view

Cracking to drive and practical. Car supermarkets are a good place to track down well-priced examples.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Some owners are over the moon with their cars, while others appear to suffer fault after fault.

Electrical complaints are amongst the most common, and can affect everything from windscreen wipers to engine malfunctions. One fault causes the battery to drain in a couple of days if the car is not used, leaving owners stranded.

The fit and finish of the trim appears to be an issue, too, with items working loose or breaking over time. The centre console and door trims seem particularly vulnerable, and the interior can look scruffy quickly if it's not looked after.

Some cars suffer mysterious steering 'clonks', especially at low speed. Dealers can fix it, but the problem has a habit of reappearing.

So far, there have been a few recalls that concern the S-Max, but the most important cover overly stiff brake pedals and diesel engines cutting out. Cars should have been recalled to address these, but get a franchised dealer to confirm that any model you're looking at has been called back.

Trade view

A good MPV, but some examples are plagued by problems, and owners are less than impressed.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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