Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015) Review

Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015) At A Glance

4/5

+Strong blend of comfort and performance. Fun to drive. Standard equipment is high on all models.

-Third row of seats are cramped. Boot is tiny when carrying seven. Cannot be fitted with a spare wheel.

Insurance Groups are between 15–27
On average it achieves 82% of the official MPG figure

The Ford S-MAX is one of the best family cars around, combining a large and practical cabin with a fun and rewarding drive. Admittedly, it lacks some of the high tech toys of its rivals, but Ford's seven-seater leads the way when it comes to handling, refinement and ride quality.

Standard equipment on the S-MAX is impressive and all models get parking sensors, dual zone air conditioning and sports seats. It also has a heated windscreen, capless refuelling and an aircraft-styled handbrake, although the latter takes a bit of getting used to. 

The interior of the S-MAX is huge, with three rows of seats and up to 2000 litres of storage. The second and third row seats can be folded completely flat, which transforms the cabin into a practical van, capable of carrying mountain bikes, furniture and pets, with an optional load retention guard. There are some issues though. The seats are a fiddly to fold and boot space drops to a paltry 285 litres when in full seven-seater mode.

On the upside, the cabin is light and airy and there's plenty of storage, with a decent scattering of cubby holes. There's also an abundance of head and legroom for those sitting in the front two rows, but things are a little cramped in the third row, although it will be fine for kids. 

The big Ford is great fun to drive, hiding its large dimensions with responsive handling, meaningful acceleration and minimal body roll in the corners. The cabin is also quiet, with little road or wind noise, which makes the S-MAX a comfortable car for long trips. 

There's a wide choice of engines with seven diesels and three petrols to choose from. The entry level 1.6-litre EcoBoost will cover 0-62mph in a respectable 9.8 seconds, while the 2.0-litre units will rival most hot hatches for acceleration and top speed. The diesels are also good, although the 1.6 only has 115PS and needs a bit of work to get going.

When it comes to family cars, we cannot think of many that match the S-MAX for all round performance, practicality and style. In fact, we'd go so far to say it's one of the best family cars money can buy. It will also suit driving enthusiasts who want a rewarding and spacious MPV that will rival the Focus ST at the traffic lights. 

Ford S-MAX 2006 Range Road Test

Ford S-MAX 2010 2.0 Ecoboost Powershift Road Test

Real MPG average for a Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015)

RealMPG

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

82%

Real MPG

20–56 mpg

MPGs submitted

905

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

What's the best seven-seater with a large boot for £10,000?

"I want to buy a seven-seater car with a large boot. I have a budget of £10,000 but would like to spend less (if possible). I have shortlisted the Ford S-MAX, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. What car would you recommend? "
Between the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe for your budget we'd be going for the Santa Fe, because you'd be looking at a second-generation Sorento and a third-generation (2012 on) Santa Fe. As the third generation Sorento didn't arrive until 2015 the newer style of Santa Fe is a much more modern-looking and feeling car, with plenty of equipment and a decent driving experience. Having said that, unless you need the off-road ability the Ford S-Max is nicer to drive than both, with a more car-like feel and better quality interior.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

What should I check before buying a Ford S-MAX?

"I am about to purchase a 2014 Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi Powershift with 85,000 miles on the clock for my son (private seller). It appears to have been well looked after and had the PowerShift transmission serviced last year (fluid and filter change). I need the car to last at least five years and my son, who will probably do about 15,000 miles per year. I am going to get the timing belt/tensioners/water pump/aux belt replaced for him. Is there anything else, apart from regular servicing, that he should be doing to ensure a long life for the engine?"
When was the car last serviced and MoT'd? It should, as a minimum, have an oil and filter change every 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first). The brake fluid should also be replaced every two years. I'd also recommend changing the fuel and air filters, as these can get missed on services and increase fuel consumption. If the owner has replaced the transmission fluid then there is a high chance that the car has a very good service history (lots of private sellers skip important maintenance task). Apart from checking the tyres for signs of damage or cracking, it reads like you've found a very good car for your son.
Answered by Dan Powell

Will a second-hand Ford S-MAX automatic be a reliable used family car?

"I was looking for an MPV that's nice to drive and am very impressed by the Ford C-MAX 2.0 TDCi Automatic. But I am now considering the Ford S-Max for about £10,000 as it is said to be more comfortable, more spacious and better to drive. Can you please advise me on the petrol 2.0 Ecoboost auto models, how good they are to drive, how they compare to the diesel automatic models, and what major problems they may have with the automatic gearbox?"
The Ford S-MAX is a very good car. Comfortable, practical and good to drive, I rate it as an excellent all-around family car. Ford has had an awful lot of reported issues with its six-speed dry clutch Powershift automatic gearbox. Most issues can be avoided with a transmission fluid and filter change every 40,000 miles or three years (whichever comes first). The seller should have paperwork that shows this work has been done. For all reported issues with this generation of the Ford S-MAX, see: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/ford/s-max-2006/good
Answered by Dan Powell

An electrical fault is draining the battery if my car is not used regularly - how do I find it?

"An electrical fault is draining the battery if my car is not used regularly. What fault could this be and what should I do to rectify the fault? "
It might be the interior light delay switch that can remain live after the light has gone out. Or might be the radio/Bluetooth. If it's the latter, install a separate switch into the radio power lead so you can switch it off entirely separately from the ignition or the radio itself.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015) cost?