Tow car test: Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCI Ti­ta­nium

2.0 TDCI 180PS Ti­ta­nium X Pow­er­shift AWD Price £38,645 Kerb­weight 1841kg

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

The prac­ti­cal­ity of Ford’s MPV could make it a worth­while al­ter­na­tive to an SUV

What’s new?

The big Ford Galaxy is a re­cent ar­rival on our long-term test fleet, and in this spec it’s that rare thing: an MPV with a spacious, flex­i­ble cabin and with the trac­tion of a 4x4. Our car has Ford’s 180PS (178bhp) 2.0 TDCI en­gine, which should be strong enough to tow a suit­ably matched tourer. It also has the Pow­er­shift twin-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. This en­gine and gear­box com­bi­na­tion is only avail­able in high-spec Ti­ta­nium X trim, and costs £38,645.

What are we look­ing for?

Most buy­ers look­ing for a seven-seater at this price point end up with an SUV rather than an MPV. Does the Ford Galaxy 4x4 of­fer a worth­while al­ter­na­tive? Tow­ing abil­ity Aside from the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit of extra trac­tion in wet and slip­pery con­di­tions, the Galaxy’s 4x4 sys­tem also pushes up the car’s kerb­weight. Ford quotes a fig­ure of 1841kg for this model, some 81kg heav­ier than the front-wheel-drive ver­sion and not far shy of the weight of big 4x4s such as the Kia Sorento. A few sec­onds with a cal­cu­la­tor will tell you that makes for a healthy 85% match fig­ure of 1565kg. That’s well within the 2000kg le­gal tow­ing limit.

The 2.0-litre en­gine pro­duces a use­ful 178bhp at the top of the rev range, but the 295lb ft of torque de­liv­ered from 2000rpm is more im­por­tant.

It’s enough for con­fi­dent per­for­mance, as we dis­cov­ered while tow­ing a Swift Ex­pres­sion 620 with a MIRO of 1461kg. The Galaxy held speed well on steep hills with­out need­ing a flurry of gear changes. In­stead, the Pow­er­shift gear­box would drop one or two ra­tios then use the en­gine’s torque to sustain a healthy pace up­hill.

There’s enough punch for de­ci­sive over­tak­ing, too. With the gear­box in sport mode, the Galaxy ac­cel­er­ated from 30-60mph in 12 sec­onds. That’s brisk rather than out­right quick, but it’s fast enough to sug­gest the Galaxy would be un­fazed by tow­ing a heav­ier tourer.

If any­thing, the car’s brak­ing is more im­pres­sive than its ac­cel­er­a­tion. It took just 10.2 me­tres for car and car­a­van to stop from 30mph.

The elec­tronic park­ing brake had no trouble hold­ing the out­fit still on the 1-in-10 slope we use for our hill-start test, and it re­leased smoothly as the driver ap­plied the throt­tle. The com­bi­na­tion of a strong en­gine, the Pow­er­shift gear­box and four-wheel drive helped the Galaxy to pull the car­a­van to the top of the in­cline with­out fuss.

Send­ing power to all four wheels is a plus in all sorts of sit­u­a­tions, not just a hill start. It doesn’t have to be wet or slip­pery un­der the car’s tyres, ei­ther. Com­pared with the front-wheel-drive VW Sharan we tested in the Oc­to­ber is­sue,

the Galaxy pulled away from junc­tions more cleanly, whereas the Sharan was prone to wheel­spin even in the dry.

Once up to speed, the Galaxy feels sta­ble, al­though in re­ally strong winds, there was some side-to-side move­ment from the van. It never felt likely to get out of hand, but it was no­tice­able. In still air, though, all was calm.

For the most part, the Ford han­dled the lane-change test well, helped by pre­cise steer­ing and well-judged sus­pen­sion. How­ever, as speeds in­creased, we could feel a lit­tle push­ing and shov­ing from the car­a­van.

Solo driv­ing Car man­u­fac­tur­ers tend to load their press fleet cars with ev­ery con­ceiv­able extra, and that of­ten in­cludes adap­tive damp­ing sys­tems which tai­lor the sus­pen­sion to suit dif­fer­ent roads and driv­ing styles. In some cars, these sys­tems work well, in oth­ers, the driver seems to have a choice be­tween a ride that’s ei­ther too hard or too soft.

The Galaxy does with­out any adap­tive trick­ery, and frankly, it doesn’t need it. Ford’s en­gi­neers have done things the old-fash­ioned way, sim­ply hon­ing the car’s springs and dampers to de­liver com­fort and con­trol across a wide va­ri­ety of road con­di­tions.

Sharp bumps at low speeds are ab­sorbed well, to an ex­tent that makes you won­der if the sus­pen­sion will al­low too much move­ment at high speeds. But for such a big, tall ve­hi­cle, body move­ments are kept well in check. It’s not as sporty as the slightly smaller Ford S-max, but if you want your pas­sen­gers to be com­fort­able on all kinds of jour­ney, the Galaxy is for you.

With­out the weight of a car­a­van to tow, per­for­mance ob­vi­ously jumps up a notch. The Galaxy will shift along at a healthy rate if re­quired, even if you’re giv­ing a lift to a five-a-side team. The en­gine stays smooth and rea­son­ably quiet when put to work, too. There’s some wind and road noise at speed, but the Galaxy is quiet enough to make a fine long-dis­tance car.

Around town, there’s no get­ting away from the Galaxy’s size, but all-round vis­i­bil­ity is good, helped by the slim front pil­lars. The steer­ing is light enough for easy park­ing.

We’re im­pressed with how well the Galaxy keeps driver and pas­sen­gers happy.

Space and prac­ti­cal­ity

There’s loads of room in the Galaxy, and that space has been put to good use.

Up front, the driver and front seat pas­sen­ger have plenty of leg- and head­room, even with the panoramic sun­roof fit­ted to our test car.

There’s lots of space in the mid­dle row, too. Legroom is gen­er­ous, as long as the seats are po­si­tioned all the way back on their run­ners. The outer seats are set wider than those in the front, so pas­sen­gers look past those in the front rather than squarely at the back of their heads. A small point, per­haps, but a ben­e­fit for any­one prone to car sick­ness.

As you’d ex­pect, seats six and seven don’t of­fer as much headand legroom as the you’ll find in the first and sec­ond rows, but our mea­sure­ments show there’s more space in the Galaxy than in a Seat Al­ham­bra or a Volk­swa­gen Sharan. There are cuphold­ers in the very back, too.

Mea­gre lug­gage space with all seats up­right is a com­mon com­plaint with seven-seat MPVS, but the Galaxy has a 300-litre ca­pac­ity. That should han­dle a su­per­mar­ket shop, al­though you’ll need to in­vest in a roof box if you are plan­ning a fam­ily holiday for six or seven.

With the third row folded, lug­gage room is huge, and with the sec­ond row folded as well it’s enormous, at 2339 litres.

Some own­ers might pre­fer to have slid­ing rear doors to make it eas­ier to get in and out in a tight park­ing space, but oth­er­wise the Galaxy is very roomy and well de­signed.

Buy­ing and own­ing

This is the range-top­ping ver­sion of the Galaxy, and that’s re­flected in the stiff price. You won’t need to tick too many op­tions boxes to push the to­tal to more than £40,000.

How­ever, What Car?’s Tar­get Price re­searchers have found that dis­counts of more than £4000 are avail­able if you hag­gle.

Mod­est re­sale val­ues make it dou­bly im­por­tant to se­cure a good deal. What Car? es­ti­mates the Galaxy will be worth a mod­est 36% of the orig­i­nal price af­ter three years and 36,000 miles on the road. It’s where most sim­i­larly priced SUVS have a dis­tinct ad­van­tage over the Galaxy – they’re con­sid­ered more de­sir­able as used cars.

For a car of this size and per­for­mance, fuel bills should be rea­son­able. Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial com­bined fig­ure, the Galaxy is ca­pa­ble of 48.7mpg. We achieved 25.6mpg while tow­ing with the Ford. That’s broadly in line with what we’d ex­pect when pulling a van the size and weight of the Swift.

It might not be the cheap­est car to run, but you do get lots of equip­ment for the money and there’s the re­as­sur­ance of a five-star safety rat­ing from crash safety ex­perts Euro NCAP.

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This is the most ex­pen­sive Galaxy in the range, al­though it comes loaded with kit

An 85% match of 1565kg gives you a good range of tow op­tions

Width (inc mir­rors) 214cm 109cm 97cm 485cm 30cm

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