ALL THAT IS DECENT
The Mondeo packs the old Ford family virtues
The Ford Falcon’s longevity meant generations of Australians were brought up with giant Blue Oval sedans and wagons serving as family chariots. Since the Falcon was pensioned off, the European-built Mondeo liftback sedans and wagons have been Ford’s largest passenger cars. If you want bigger, an SUV or dual cab ute are your only options.
The underrated Mondeo can’t match the Falcon’s passionate following. Sales were never huge and Australia’s medium car segment has plummeted with the rise of the SUVs.
A used Mondeo is a lot of car for your money. It hasn’t held value particularly well and is a less obvious choice than the ubiquitous Toyota Camry. It’s less boring, too, but not by much. Even so, this is a decent family car: roomy front and rear, comfortable, safe and well equipped. Look really hard at the front end and there are hints of Jaguar and Aston Martin.
On its release in May 2015, the Mondeo was hyped for being technology and safety rich rather than a rewarding driver’s car. Engines were 2.0-litre turbo fours — 149kW and 177kW with petrol power or 132kW diesel — coupled to dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
The Mondeo was fitted with “wet clutch” gearboxes, as opposed to the problematic “dry clutch” examples that caused havoc (and landed a big fine for Ford Australia) in the Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport models.
Of this generation Mondeo, the 2015 cars and most 2016 examples (and any with more than 100,000km) will be out of Ford’s threeyear warranty. Reliability appears generally good, with few reports of major failings and not many quality control issues.
In the classifieds, capacious wagons are more popular than the “liftback” sedans. The latter’s hatchback-style boot is quite practical, providing 458L of boot space versus the wagon’s 488L up to the parcel shelf. Load both to the roof and the wagon has a 150L advantage.
Unlike old Falcon wagons, you won’t fit a double mattress in the back, but with seats down the Mondeo wagon gives a useful 1585L. Diesel wagons score 1600kg towing capacity and the others 1200kg.
Ambiente, Trend and Titanium sedans had the choice of petrol or diesel engines and the Trend and Titanium wagons were diesel only. The Ambiente got the lesser petrol engine, still a decent job, and you don’t feel too robbed of performance against the 177kW tune.
Base specification included alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, LED rear lights, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, paddle-shifters, infotainment with eight-inch screen, Bluetooth, voice control and sat nav.
Safety spec was impressive, with nine airbags (including those attached to the rear seat belts). Ford’s MyKey allowed the owner to limit top speed and audio volume, and require seat belts to be fastened.
The Ambiente’s lack of rear camera or autonomous emergency braking let it down. Trend had these, while Titanium added blind spot assist, park assist, lane keep aid and assist, and lane departure warning. The Trend got keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, power and heated partial leather seats, and auto headlights and wipers.
Going full luxe, the Titanium added 18-inch alloys, sporty side skirts, power tailgate (wagon only), adaptive suspension, LED headlamps that turn corners, panoramic roof, leather sports seats, heated rear seats and ambient lighting.
Look for late 2016 Mondeos with infotainment including smartphone mirroring. From April 2017 each grade’s alloy wheels gained an inch in size.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Mondeo owners were probably not cool kids at school but chances are they were smart and organised. Hunt down an example cherished from new by one owner who stuck rigidly to the service schedule.
Ford dealer services aren’t cheap every 15,000km or annually, diesels especially. Petrol examples will be at least $380 a visit, with 60,000km and 120,000km services at $765. Any petrols coming up to 150k will need new belts, costing $1105.
High mileage used diesels look good value but are out of warranty beyond 100,000km and are costly to maintain. The 60,000km diesel service is $1045.
You’ll find cabins roomy and, in all but the Ambiente, seating is quite luxurious. Some of the cabin plastics and switches feel low rent and some complain they’ve not weathered well. Listen for rattles and squeaks and look for early wear on the steering wheel, seats and plastics.
Wagons have self-levelling rear suspension, and with the Titanium grades’ electronically controlled dampers, owners have said these are expensive fixes. Check for any oil leaking from shock absorbers, and nasty knocks, rattles or thumps when going over road bumps.
Take your time checking all electronic bits, and ensure the dash warning lights switch off.
Reported problems aren’t widespread but there are grumbles about the touchscreen, Bluetooth, aircon, smart key, smart tailgate, satnav and electric handbrake, and fixes can be expensive.
The Mondeo was caught up in the Takata airbag scandal, so ensure any built before March 21, 2017 have had the required fix. Early Titaniums were recalled in October 2016 modify the adaptive LED headlamp software.
IAIN SAYS ★★★ 1/2
There are high-mileage cheapies out there but they’ll be out of warranty, probably ex-fleet or ex-rental. Services for diesels get increasingly expensive. Mondeos are impressively roomy but the wagon’s the proper practical choice, especially with a frugal diesel engine. Find a Trend or Titanium for better looks, kit and safety, ideally less than three years old and under 100,000km.
KEITH ROBEY: I’m on my seventh Mondeo after several Falcons. The Trend turbo petrol remains the sweet spot pick, though the Titanium diesel has all the Mercedes goodies at a Ford price. I could live without the panoramic non-opening glass roof. The infuriating feature is the paddle-shifters being attached to the steering wheel rather than being in a fixed position on the steering column. The unique airbags on the rear seat belts rarely get credit. Top marks for good performance with useful economy, great space and comfort plus a huge flat floor boot, even in the hatchback. A fine but grossly underrated car.
GEOFF LEWIS: I have had no problems with my Mondeo, owned from new. It performs well and is economical to drive. I have it serviced regularly at the dealership and have changed only the battery and tyres. The aircon is on all the time and, whether hot or cold outside, it is comfortable. The options are of a very good standard and the extra-large boot is a bonus. The build quality is far better than my previous cars.