Serious seven-seat capability
Although more expensive than the S-Max, in reality it will be much easier to negotiate a discount on a Galaxy than on its smaller sibling. The Galaxy looks like good value, providing a comprehensive, competent and surprisingly classy package with unrivalled people-carrying ability. You get exactly what you pay for in this likeable MPV.
Ford's FoldFlatSystem (FFS) works well, enabling the second and third rows of seating to turn into a flat load floor without having to remove them from the vehicle. As a result there's a third more stowage space than in the previous Galaxy.
Great strides have been made in improving the Galaxy's sometimes-workaday interior. New dials and displays wouldn't look out of place in an Audi, and basing the steering wheel-mounted controls on a mobile phone's toggle switch is a masterstroke, dispensing with the need to wade through a manual before taking the wheel. A switch replaces the traditional parking brake and may take some getting used to.
Ghia models have seductive leather seats providing tremendous lateral support. Other grades fare almost as well. Noise suppression is first class, though it is bought at the price of a weight increase compared to the earlier Galaxy. Like the smaller C-Max, the Galaxy rolls less than might be expected of such a large, high-sided vehicle.
Zetec and Ghia models get an alarm system, but it is an option on the LX. All the usual deadlocks, remote locking and engine immobiliser are present and correct, though.
Family vehicles like this need a convincing safety package to have wide appeal, and the Galaxy delivers an excellent portfolio of active and passive features. As well as complex crumple zones built from different grades of steel, there are front, side and curtain airbags, plus an innovative driver knee bag. A wide range of tailored extras for kids is available too, including special booster cushions and baby seats.
Anyone wanting to maximize their involvement behind the wheel is likely to opt for the only slightly smaller S-Max, but the Galaxy isn't as far behind it as you might imagine. Certainly it's built for suburban cruising rather than tackling hairpin bends at speeds, but when pushed it can display a decent turn of pace and handles nicely.
An ideal family conveyance, even large clans will find plenty of room to get comfortable in a Galaxy. Passengers have enough space to mark out their own domains, which help avoid those back seat tantrums that can ruin a journey. The Galaxy feels durable enough to cope with the rigours of family life, too.
Large, sensible and fairly expensive to run with a load aboard, the Galaxy is hardly a suitable first car, except perhaps for someone with a growing family and little chance of buying a smaller vehicle.
Quality is improved, but the Galaxy's image looks set to continue as it is. In some respects it is the default large people carrier that people buy if they can't think of anything else. That's a little unfair as this is an accomplished vehicle and the sumptuous interior of Ghia models may cause one or two eyebrows to rise.
Doors open to around 65 degrees, making embarkation easy. It'll lose out to rivals with sliding side doors in a tight parking slot, but it looks a lot better as a result. Almost the whole rear end opens when you raise the boot and the loading floor is low so that you are unlikely to pop a disc while putting a heavy load inside.
The standard fit stereo gives a good sound and has no problems filling the cavernous interior. Significantly there is a jack in the glovebox to let you plug an iPod or MP3 player straight into the system. The standard audio interface makes upgrading quite straightforward, too, and LCD screens can be mounted in the headrests to let passengers watch DVDs.
This is a utilitarian car, so sober, plain colours seem to suit it best. Avoid some of the outlandish metallic hues if you wish to retain resale value. That's worth doing, as there is always a healthy market for used Galaxies. Mid-range Zetec trim is likely to provide the best value for money option – LX may be cheaper but it certainly feels like it.
No car in this class is a cinch to park, and owners will be well advised to practice at home for a few minutes before venturing anywhere near a multi-storey car park.
An aerosol tyre repair kit is provided rather than an actual replacement wheel.
Engine choice consists of a 2.0-litre (145bhp) petrol engine and three diesels: two 1.8 TDCi units (100bhp or 125bhp) and a 2.0 TDCi (140bhp). Familiar Ford badging will define the range: LX, Zetec and Ghia with a further optional X-Pack for Ghia models. Five or six speed manual transmission as standard according to engine selected, with optional automatic.