What Car? says...
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains many well-known objects. Some are unique, like Saturn with its beautiful rings or Jupiter with its enormous, stormy eye, but others are more common, such as the 200-odd billion stars twinkling away at night. And the Ford Galaxy, of course, which might outnumber even the stars judging by the number you see driving about. Yes, if you’re being ferried around a city or en route to an airport, there’s a good chance you’ll be ensconced in one of these large MPVs.
There’s a reason for the Galaxy’s ubiquity: it’s jolly good on a number of fronts. Running cost is one, along with seating flexibility and passenger space. And, while those make it a money-spinner for private hire firms, the same virtues make it a great family car as well.
Is it the best MPV choice, though? That’s what we intend to explore in this review, where we’ll look into the Galaxy’s farthest reaches to discover what are its pros and cons, then compare and contrast it with its nearest rivals. There are a handful of similar purpose-built MPVs, such as the Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer, Volkswagen Sharan and Ford’s own S-Max, as well as the van-based MPVs, like the Mercedes V-Class, Peugeot Traveller and Volkswagen Caravelle.
So, read on over the next few pages for our in-depth impressions of the Galaxy, along with our recommendations for the trim level and engine that make the most sense. Once you’re ready to take the plunge, be it on a Galaxy or any other new car, our New Car Buying service can offer absolutely stellar savings off the list price of nearly every new car on sale.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Let's begin with your choice of engines. The 2.0-litre 148bhp engine (EcoBlue 150) is the more popular of the two and pulls the Galaxy along at a decent lick, while also proving flexible enough to suit both town driving and motorway cruising. What's more, as you'll read later on in our review, it offers the better blend of performance, fuel-efficiency and cost.
If you want more power, the 187bhp version (EcoBlue 190) has the same 2.0-litre capacity with, supposedly, an extra slice of va-va-voom. It does have a bit more low-down shove, but it doesn’t feel like enough of a step up from the EcoBlue 150 to warrant the further outlay.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is precise and slick, but the optional eight-speed automatic is less enamouring. It’s pretty responsive on kick down but, every now and again, it thuds between gears and it takes an age switching between drive and reverse. If you’re parking on a hill, it'll start rolling as if it’s in neutral before the gear engages, and this is massively frustrating.
The Galaxy offers a measured ride. It takes the edge off all but the harshest of bumps around town, and you'll notice more disturbance from the noise of the wheels thudding over potholes than you will from the impact of the potholes themselves. On faster roads, the ride acquires greater levels of polish and the peace and quiet inside is admirable; there’s a bit of background road and wind noise but nothing intrusive. The engines (all of which run on diesel) are mostly quiet, too, once up to normal operating temperature.
The handling is rather surprising for such a tall car – in a good way. Okay, the Galaxy tilts over when you push it hard in bends, but it feels grippy and balanced, with nicely weighted steering that allows you to guide the nose accurately. Around town the steering is light and the turning circle isn’t too shabby when you need to perform a quick U-turn.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Galaxy drivers benefit from an elevated driving position, but visibility is far from perfect, with windscreen pillars that are angled and positioned in such a way that they conceal hazards that lurk to the right of the driver.
Otherwise the view out is great through the large, open glass area to the sides and back, which is a real boon when parking a car as large as this. The standard front and rear parking sensors help, too, while front and rear-view cameras come as part of the optional Driver Assistance Pack. The standard halogen headlights aren’t particularly bright, so it's a shame that the optional adaptive LED headlights are available only on the top-spec Titanium trim as part of the optional Titanium Lux Pack.
The driver’s seat is comfy and, if you go for the Titanium Lux pack, you get eight-way powered adjustment. Because the steering wheel also adjusts extensively, you should be very well catered for whatever your shape and size.
Generally speaking, the dashboard is logical enough to work your way around with ease. Okay, some of the buttons are quite small, but they are at least physical buttons that you can learn to use by feel, rather than taking the form of icons on the infotainment touchscreen. If you drive a Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer, you'll find that even its climate controls are managed through its touchscreen; both a faff and a distraction when you're on the road.
Speaking of infotainment systems, the Galaxy’s isn’t great. It comes with a DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the 8.0in screen is quite low resolution, the graphics look old fashioned, the system isn’t always responsive and you have to pay extra for sat-nav (navigation comes as standard only on Titanium trim). That said, its rivals aren’t blessed with brilliant infotainment systems, either.
Interior quality is, in the main, very good. Most of the surfaces are finished in pleasing soft-touch plastics and feel robust. The Galaxy is certainly far nicer inside than many of the van-based alternatives that feel rather commercial, such as the Peugeot Traveller and Vauxhall Combo Life, but a Volkswagen Sharan and Touran both have a slight edge on quality inside.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Climb inside and the Galaxy feels supremely spacious. In fact, it's one of the most spacious seven-seaters on the market. Its front seats offer loads of head and leg room, and there's enough space separating them to provide clear water between you and your passenger. There’s plenty of storage, too, from the decent door pockets to a good-sized glovebox, plus various cubbyholes, cupholders and compartments.
The middle row of seats has room for three six-foot adults. Large door openings mean the seats are easy to get in and out of, and the seats can individually recline and slide for enhanced practicality and comfort. With a low central floor hump and lots of foot space under the front seats, even the middle passenger can get comfortable.
Pull a lever on the top of the outer seats and they tilt and slide forward to allow easy access to the third row. As is the case for the Volkswagen Sharan, these sixth and seventh seats will fit even taller adults; neither the Volkswagen Touran or Citroën Grand C4 Spacetourer can provide such generous third-row seating. Each passenger gets a cubby box and their own cupholder, and there’s enough glazing back there to prevent claustrophobia.
The Galaxy's boot is also huge. According to Ford’s figures, there's 300 litres of boot space with the third-row seats in place; that’s impressive – the huge Mercedes V-Class (standard wheelbase) has much less luggage room than that. Convert the Galaxy into a five-seater and the boot is good enough for multiple large suitcases, and there's a van-like 2339 litres of load volume with only the front seats in use.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Browsing the Galaxy price list will show that the 2.0 EcoBlue 150 in entry-level Zetec trim, which is our pick, costs more than versions of the Citröen Grand C4 Spacetourer, about the same as a Volkswagen Sharan, but much less than a Mercedes V-Class, Peugeot Traveller and Volkswagen Caravelle.
Ford's PCP offers can bring competitive monthly payments, but resale values aren't terrific. That's true for the Sharan and Grand C4 Spacetourer, too, but the V-Class and Caravelle retain a lot more value after three years. CO2 emissions for the EcoBlue 150 diesel engine are competitive and will keep benefit-in-kind company car tax reasonable. The EcoBlue 190 is rather more polluting and pricier, so we'd avoid it.
Stick to Zetec trim to keep the costs down. It brings 17in alloy wheels, power-folding mirrors, a heated windscreen, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control and all the infotainment features we mentioned earlier. Titanium doesn't add a massive amount more kit, apart from rear privacy glass, automatic lights and keyless entry, but it does let you add more option packs if you want leather seats and other luxuries.
On the safety front, automatic emergency city braking (Ford's term for AEB) is standard on all versions, and lane-keeping assistance and traffic sign recognition are standard with Titanium trim. Euro NCAP has rated the Galaxy with five stars for safety, but that was back in 2015 and there are areas – such as rear passenger whiplash protection – that are weak.
As for reliability, we don’t have any data on the Galaxy specifically in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, but Ford sits in a middling 19th out of the 31 manufacturers. That's just above Volkswagen, Peugeot and Mercedes, but behind Citröen.
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|RRP price range||£40,725 - £43,225|
|Number of trims (see all)||1|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||44.1 - 44.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£2,668 / £2,833|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£5,336 / £5,666|