Ford S-MAX (2015-2023) Review

The Ford S-Max is a seven-seat family car that’s an alternative to the many SUVs

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Spacious interior with seven independent seats
  • Wide range of diesel engines
  • Four-wheel drive is available
  • Only two Isofix points for child seats
  • Some safety equipment is a cost-option
  • No petrol or hybrid engines
Ford S-MAX prices from £14,151.
Finance from £392.90 / month.

Ford S-Max prices from £14,151   Finance from £392.90 per month

There is nothing more frustrating that piling into the family car and feeling the tension descend, as children jostle for space, kick the back of mum and dad’s seats and everything rolls around on the floor because there’s nowhere to store anything.

If that scene sounds familiar, the chances are a car like the Ford S-Max could ride to the rescue and restore calm to every journey. This type of car is known as a people carrier, or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) and the S-Max is one of the most spacious and practical going.

This second-generation version, introduced in early 2015, and facelifted in October 2018, built on the successful formula of the first-generation S-Max, which was something of a revelation.

It’s a fine car, but faces a host of talented rivals including the BMW 2 Series Grand Tourer, Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer, Volkswagen, Sharan, Seat Alhambra, and Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. But which is most deserving of a family’s hard-earned money?

When it comes to the space race, the interior of the S-Max delivers in spades. Adults will be perfectly at home in either the first or second row of seats, with plenty of head and legroom for even the tallest individuals. The third row is a bit tighter, and probably best reserved for kids, but adults shouldn’t mind squeezing in for a short trip.

Versatility is another key quality of people carriers and again the S-Max has it covered: all five back seats can be folded down individually, while if you drop the lot you have enough storage space to rival a van, making the S-Max a versatile workhorse.

We won’t try and kid you that the layout of the dashboard and feel of the fittings is anything other than functional. With this, second-generation of S-Max, it seemed as though Ford’s designers and engineers were on a tight budget and forced to cut a few corners when crafting the layout. Still, at least it’s clearly presented and the features are easy to operate.

There’s a relatively simple line-up of models, from £29,145, with just three trim levels – or versions – to pick from but there’s plenty of choice of engines, with turbocharged petrol and diesels, the option of an automatic transmission and front or four-wheel drive. For maximum luxury, check out the flagship Vignale model.

The S-Max protects its occupants well, boasting a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and, as well as standard traction and electronic stability control. One slight downside is that the more advanced safety features, such as blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control, are optional. Lane-keeping assistance is standard on the S-Max Titanium and above, but a £525 option on the entry-level S-Max Zetec.


Key facts

Warranty Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size 285 litres
Width 1,916mm
Length 4,796mm
Height 1,655mm
Tax (min to max) £110 to £225

Best Ford S-MAX for...

Best for Economy – Ford S-Max 2.0 EcoBlue 150 Zetec

As the S-Max is a large and relatively heavy car, don’t expect it to be especially frugal. However, the best performer is the 2.0-litre TDCI diesel with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, which returns around 60mpg and costs £110 a year to tax.

Best for Families – Ford S-Max 2.0 EcoBlue 150 Titanium

Over and above Zetec, the Titanium adds sat nav, automatic wipers and headlights, keyless entry and cruise control – all of which will make life easier. The mid-range 148bhp version of the 2-litre diesel engine provides useful extra oomph for motorway driving or when the car’s full of passengers and luggage.

Best for Performance – Ford S-Max 2.0 EcoBlue 240 ST-Line automatic

Frustrated mums and dads who wish they could drive something with a bit of get-up-and-go may want to check out the most powerful S-Max, which can sprint from 0-62mph 8.8 seconds. However, its high price and running costs make it a tough sell (see below).


March 2015 Second-generation Ford S-Max goes on sale in the UK
September 2015 Four-wheel drive now available as an option
September 2016 Top-spec Vignale version joins the range, with luxury-car levels of equipment
October 2018 Facelifted model introduced

Understanding Ford S-MAX names

Engine 2.0 TDCi 180 PS

Buyers have a choice of petrol (EcoBoost) or diesel (TDCi) power.

Trim Titanium Sport

The three S-Max versions are Zetec, Titanium and Titanium Sport.

Gearbox Powershift

‘Powershift’ is Ford’s name for its automatic transmission. The S-Max is also available with a regular six-speed manual gearbox.

Drive AWD

Since September 2015, all-wheel drive (AWD) has been an option with selected Ford S-Max engines.

Ford S-MAX Engines

Engines: 2.0 EcoBlue (diesel)

If you have concerns about the emissions of diesel cars and would prefer petrol, hybrid or plug-in hybrid family car, you may be dismayed to find that Ford only offers diesel engines with the S-Max.

However, the car maker says it will add a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol model to the range by the end of 2018.

The diesels, called EcoBlue, are all based on a 2-litre, four-cylinder unit, with different power outputs. Be warned: the least powerful 118bhp, which comes with a manual six-speed gearbox, is only barely up to the job of hauling this heavy car around, as its lazy 13.4-second 0-62mph time shows.

We reckon the next one up, the 148bhp model is the best all-rounder in the range – particularly as it’s available with either front-wheel drive (with manual or eight-speed automatic transmission) or all-wheel drive (with manual).

The more powerful 187bhp engine offers similar choice, although here the all-wheel-drive version has the automatic gearbox. Finally, there’s the 237bhp diesel, which is offered as front-wheel-drive automatic only. These more powerful diesels are capable engines and make the S-Max feel responsive and confident in all situations, but whether they’re worth spending the extra on will come down to personal preference. 





0 - 62mph

top speed

2.0 EcoBlue 120






2.0 EcoBlue 150


56.5 – 49.6mpg


10.8 - 12.1s

122 - 123mph

2.0 EcoBlue 190


56.5 – 47.1mpg


9.5 - 10.5s

128 - 131mph

2.0 EcoBlue 240


47.1 – 47.9mpg




Ford S-MAX Trims

Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line, and Vignale

Zetec, the entry-level model, comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, Ford’s ‘SYNC 3’ voice-control system, front and rear parking sensors (vital on such a large car), a digital radio, power-folding mirrors and two sets of Isofix child-seat points, on the outer seats of the middle row.

Next in the S-Max range is Titanium, which brings satellite navigation, rear privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and cruise control. Such features take a great deal of hassle out of everyday driving, making Titanium our recommendation here.

If you want your people carrier to look slightly more racy, consider the ST-Line model. It comes with a body styling kit, larger, 18-inch alloy wheels, ST-Line badging inside and out and sports suspension. Completing the upgrades are heated front seats.

The range-topping Vignale is a bit of an extravagance for a car that’s likely going to end up having a hard life at the hands of a young family. It comes with 19-inch alloys, a chrome trim, front and rear parking sensors, a cashmere interior, heated steering wheel, rear-view camera and power-operated tailgate.

There are several options to consider when ordering an S-Max. The first is air conditioning and sun blinds for the back of the car, which tots up to £525. Another is self-levelling suspension, ideal for those that intend to carry a full complement of passengers and luggage, or use the car for towing. It’s £375, but not available with four-wheel drive models.


Ford S-MAX Reliability and warranty

The first-generation S-Max last featured in the Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey in 2015, and this, second-generation version hasn’t featured.

The diesel engines that power the S-Max are well proven from being used in numerous other Ford models, while the car’s interior should be sturdy enough to put up with the everyday rigours of family motoring. In common with other mainstream brands such as Vauxhall, SEAT and VW, Ford offers a three-year/60,000-mile warranty on all its new cars.

Used Ford S-MAX

There are currently 16 Ford S-Maxs available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £14,151 to £38,538 for nearly-new models. Monthly finance payments start from £392.90 per month.

Drivers looking to buy a petrol-powered S-Max have a choice: wait for the new model to join the range at the end of this year and place an order, or browse older, post-2015 used models for sale.

To be honest, the 158bhp, 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrols are in limited supply.

Rarer still is the 2-litre unit, with 237bhp and an automatic gearbox.

Because there is so much more availability, the most affordable diesel models. Most of those come with the 148bhp version of the TDCi motor, and if you want an automatic you can expect to add another £3000 or so to the price, as these are rarer and in demand.

Bear in mind that with so many Ford dealers around, competition for your custom is high, so deals on diesels are available. Also remember that there are good deals on new models. At the time of writing, our top pick for family buyers, the S-Max 2.0 EcoBlue Titanium, was available on BuyaCar for around 20% less than the manufacturer’s list price.