Ford Galaxy, 06-reg to 09-reg
Why it's a great used buy
When the Galaxy first went on sale, in 1996, it was essentially the same car as the Seat Alhambra and Volkswagen Sharan but with a Ford badge on the front. However, by the time the third-generation Galaxy was launched, in 2006, it had evolved into a purely Ford product, and the new car brought innovative features such as rear seats that fold flat into the floor, a smarter interior and even better road manners – making the VW Group cars of the same vintage rather dated by comparison. The Galaxy's popularity (particularly with taxi drivers) means there are lots of examples to choose from on the used market, though a budget of £10,000 limits the choice to cars produced before the Galaxy's latest facelift, in 2010.
What it's like to drive and use
Like the Seat Alhambra and Volkswagen Sharan, the Ford Galaxy has two full-size rearmost seats as well as three individual full-size seats in the middle row, so seven adults all get plenty of space. There's still a good deal of room for luggage in the tall but slim boot space that's left when all the seats are in use, too. Putting the rearmost seats up or down isn't quite as slick a procedure as in some MPVs, as you need to attend to their backs and bases separately, but it's easy enough, and with these seats collapsed the boot becomes vast. Folding the middle-row flat is really easy and turns the Galaxy into a huge van. A major appeal of the Galaxy is that it's much better to drive than its size suggests, thanks to its good body control and responsive steering, and it's both smooth and quiet on the motorway.
Bear in mind that front passenger airbag deactivation has never been standard in the Galaxy, so check it was fitted as a cost option by the original dealer if you're planning to fit a rear-facing child seat up front.
If you drive seven-up only occasionally, consider the Ford S-Max instead; it's only a bit smaller, with smaller rearmost seats and less legroom, but it's a good deal cheaper.
2.0 TDCi Zetec
Typical price £9670 for ‘08/58 with 60,000 miles
This engine offers the best balance of economy and power - having enough oomph is important if you're regularly going to be driving your Galaxy fully laden with people and luggage. Zetec trim brings alloy wheels, four electric windows, climate control and a heated windscreen.
Typical price £8440 for ‘08/58 with 60,000 miles
Of the petrol Galaxies available for the money, the 2.0-litre is fine, though it can be a bit short on grunt when the cabin is at maximum capacity. If you want an automatic you'll need to upgrade to the 2.3-litre model, which will cost more to buy and to run.
Safety info on these models
Euro NCAP rating Tested only under pre-2009 system: five stars for adults and four for children
Rear airbags? Yes, for both rows of rear seats
Isofix? On all three middle-row seats
Front passenger airbag deactivation? A cost option only, so check it was fitted
Problems to watch out for
Quite a few owners have reported poorly fitting cabin trim, including door seals that refuse to stay in place, so take time to check for these problems. Some cars have had a mysterious clunking noise from the steering column, so keep an ear out for this on your test drive.