Lizzie Pope
Digital Editor

See other tow car reviews written by Lizzie Pope

Practical Caravan magazine reviews the Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi Zetec, and with or without a caravan on the back, the big MPV impressed the expert test team

Overview

There are lots of MPVs with seven seats, but how many have room for a family of seven and their luggage? This is the issue Ford has addressed with its new Galaxy.

Bigger and more practical than before, prices start from £19,495 for the cheapest petrol model. However, the diesels, with their strong, low-down pull and impressive fuel economy, are more likely to appeal to caravanners.

Here at Practical Caravan we have reviewed the most powerful 2.0 TDCi diesel in mid-spec Zetec trim, priced at £22,995. That looks like good value compared with the Chrysler Grand Voyager or Renault Grand Espace, both of which cost thousands more than the Ford. The Chrysler has proven ability to swallow passengers and all their clobber. Can the Galaxy offer the same practicality at a lower price? And how well does it tow?

Towing

A healthy kerbweight of 1803kg combined with a strong diesel engine help make the Galaxy a stable and assured tow car. We hitched it up to the Adria Adiva 532 LD caravan, which made a safe 81% match. The Ford pulled away cleanly and smoothly. Getting up to speed to join the motorway was no problem, and once up to 60mph we needed to change out of top gear only on really steep inclines.

To give the Galaxy a tougher test, we also tried it with a different caravan, the new Swift Charisma 620. Although it was just 60kg short of the Ford's 1700kg tow limit, the Swift posed no problems.

One option we'd recommend is the self-levelling suspension (£250). Even while towing at speed, this keeps the body level for better stability. Another option is the retractable towball, which allows you to move the ball under the car when you're not towing.

We do have one gripe: when accelerating from standstill on wet roads, the front wheels spin before the Electronic Stability Programme (a £350 option) cuts in. Despite this, the Galaxy makes a fine tug.

Everyday driving

If you think all MPVs are dull, this one will change your mind. The Galaxy is fun to drive, boasting precise steering, and well-judged suspension that balances high-speed control with comfort around town. It's a juggling act the Galaxy manages better than any other big MPV. The Grand Espace offers a smoother ride, but the light steering feels detached compared with the Galaxy's. The Grand Voyager, meanwhile, is simply outclassed.

Ford's Galaxy 2.0 TDCi Zetec is surprisingly swift, hitting 60mph in less than 10 seconds. Since the engine pulls hard from low revs, there's little need to overwork the six-speed manual gearbox. All-round visibility is excellent, too, which makes parking and hitching much easier than with many large cars.

Space

Owners of the old Galaxy will be amazed by the extra space. Headroom is impressive, even in the second and third rows.

When juggling passengers and luggage, there's no need to remove rear seats, because each folds flat to expand the loading bed. You can also slide the seats back and forth to get more legroom or boot. The Grand Voyager does better, though, with seats that fold into the floor.

The new dashboard has chrome-effect facing, and controls for the stereo and heating mounted in the steering wheel. However, you may accidentally activate them while doing difficult manoeuvres.

There is an exciting list of options, including the Panorama roof (£700), which has a central drop-down console. And rear-seat passengers can enjoy the DVD/game player mounted behind each front-seat headrest (£1500).

Running costs

The £22,995 price is a fair chunk of change, but next to the opposition, the Galaxy is a bargain. The 2.0 TDCi Zetec costs £2730 less than the cheapest Grand Espace diesel, and £3000 less than the cheapest Grand Voyager.

In spite of its low price, Ford owners won't feel short-changed on equipment. Parking sensors, climate control, a CD player and enough airbags to make a bouncy castle are standard.

According to our sister magazine, What Car?, you can expect to hang on to a respectable 45% of the original price after three years and 36,000 miles. Official figures suggest 43.5mpg is possible, so fuel bills should be pleasingly low, too.

Technical specs

Engine size1997 cc
Kerbweight1803 kg
Maximum towing limit1700 kg
Power138.0 bhp
Torque251.0 lb ft
Official MPG43.5 mpg
CO2172 g/km

Verdict

With or without a caravan, we think that the Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi Zetec is the best big MPV you can buy.

Compared with the old Galaxy, the latest model copes better with people and luggage. It falls short of the Chrysler Grand Voyager's roomy interior, but the Galaxy is cheaper to buy and run.

The Ford is a far better drive and, thanks to the powerful diesel under the bonnet, it will prove to be a fine towcar. Even with a caravan loaded up to just below its MTPLM, the Galaxy is impressively stable.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It is a stable and strong tow car, and a good drive on its own
  • Brilliant all-round visibility
  • Cabin space is excellent
  • Equipment levels are good

Cons

  • Wheelspin from a standstill on wet roads
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