The S-Max undercuts equivalent versions of the Seat Alhambra and Volkswagen Sharan, although it looks a little pricey compared with rivals such as the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso; Vignale models meanwhile, despite the extra equipment you get are way too pricey to recommend.
Running costs are also a long way from class leading, with the most efficient models – the 2.0-litre diesels – pumping out 129g/km of CO2. That’s more than the lowest-emitting versions of the Grand C4 Picasso and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, meaning the S-Max will cost you more in company car tax.
On the plus side, the S-Max has pretty strong resale values, and the best-selling 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel managed a reasonable 43.6mpg in our real-world True MPG fuel economy tests.
Ford S-Max equipment
We’d stick with entry-level Zetec trim because this is attractively priced and still gets you dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, four electric windows, front and rear parking sensors and the 8.0in touchscreen media system. The only options we’d be tempted to add are metallic paint and – if you do a lot of motorway miles – cruise control.
Titanium models get cruise as standard, and also add keyless start, automatic lights and wipers, and a sat-nav. This trim carries a hefty premium, though, so isn’t such good value for money. Still, if you like lots of toys in your MPV, this one is a good choice.
Titanium Sport trim is too pricey to recommend, though. This range-topper gets a host of sporty visual upgrades inside and out, plus heated front seats and rear privacy glass.
It’s the same story with the range-topping Vignale model. Yes, it counts fancy leather seats with contrasting stitching, 10-way electrically adjustable front seats and keyless entry among its features, but they’re accompanied by a sizable price increase.
Ford S-Max reliability
The latest S-Max didn’t feature in the most recent ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model did and scored average marks for mechanical reliability. Owners reported some handbrake and side window faults, and there were complaints about excessive or uneven tyre wear.
There was more encouraging news in our latest reliability survey, though, where Ford was placed sixth out of 37 manufacturers featured; by comparison, close rival Vauxhall finished mid-table.
Like all Fords, the S-Max comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty and one year’s breakdown cover. This is comparable with the cover provided by most car companies, but falls short of the seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty you get with the Kia Carens.
Ford S-Max safety & security
Front-seat occupants are protected by front and side airbags, plus the driver gets a knee airbag. There are also window ’bags that cover the first two rows. It’s disappointing that these don’t stretch to the third row, however, like they do in rivals such as the Peugeot 5008 and Seat Alhambra.
The S-Max did at least score the maximum five-star rating in its Euro NCAP crash test, with scores for both adult and child safety a close match for the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. In fact, the Ford performed much better than its French rival for pedestrian safety.
All versions of the S-Max are available with an optional system that warns you if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot or if you begin to wander out of your lane on the motorway.
Security equipment is comprehensive; every S-Max comes with an engine immobiliser, alarm, deadlocks and remote central locking.
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Zetec cars come with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, four electric windows and front and rear parking sensors, so we wouldn’t bother upgrading to one of the more expensive trims.
Mid-spec Titanium trim adds cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, a USB socket and a DAB radio to a Zetec’s kit list. However, it also adds a lot to the price, and isn’t worth the extra in our opinion.
This high-end trim is best avoided because it brings a sports suspension set-up that makes the ride overly firm. Other additions include a bodykit and a panoramic glass roof.
Range-topping model counts plush leather seats with contrasting stitching, 10-way electrically adjustable front seats and keyless entry among its features, but they come with a sizeable price increase that’s hard to justify.