Spied: Next-Gen Ford S-Max Spied Testing In America

Last we heard, Ford wasn’t pursuing a large, seven-seater version of its forthcoming C-Max MPV for North America after all. But wait, what’s this? Our spies recently caught what appears to be a super-stretched C-Max prototype testing out west.

Let’s start with the obvious question: is this just a Grand C-Max? The photos suggest the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” A quick look at the vehicle’s hind quarters not only reveals the rear sliding doors have been sectioned and stretched, but that a similar treatment has been applied to most surfaces aft of the C-pillars. The rear wheel wells no longer meet the rear edge of the sliding door, the rear bumper no longer wraps all the way around to the wheel wells, and the D-pillars are roughly three times as thick as those on a stock Grand C-Max. The cant rails that frame the roof also appear thicker, and it almost appears as if the front fascia has also been widened ever so slightly

So, if this isn’t a Grand C-Max, what is it? A larger Ford minivan/MPV, obviously, although it’s not likely the European Galaxy, as Galaxy mules recently photographed by Autocar look completely different. Our spy photographer suggests this is an early mule for a next-generation Ford S-Max MPV, which slots in size-wise between the Focus-based C-Max and the larger Galaxy.

Interestingly, the S-Max and Galaxy may have more in common than ever before. Autocar reports the next Galaxy will share its platform used for the new 2013 Fusion and Mondeo. – which, as it so happens, will also be used for the S-Max. That same modified platform is also expected to underpin the next-generation Edge crossover, which is due to launch between 2014 and 2015.

Does the presence of an S-Max mule in the United States indicate the model will join the U.S. lineup in the near future? Not necessarily: we frequently see European-market vehicles (including a last-generation S-Max) testing on our roads, yet never see them wind up in our showrooms. It’d be interesting to see how Ford could add a seven-passenger S-Max to its existing U.S. portfolio – though it certainly would provide for a more traditional minivan-like package, Ford presently sells two seven-seat crossovers – the Flex and Explorer – in our market.

But what say you: is there room for a third? Would you like to see the Blue Oval return to minivans for the first time after exterminating the Freestar in 2007, or should it stick with crossovers? Send your thoughts our way by way of the poll below.

David Viner
I have owned a variety of cars: new Mercedes (loads of electrical problems, will never bother with one again) 5 Audi's (still have one of them, great cars and have had different ones for years) VWs ( good cars) a Toyota Prius (awful, really horrible to drive) and other ones etc etc. But I have covered around 40,000 miles in an SMax ( including 2 x 2500 mile trips around France in the past year). It can't offer the same interior as an Audi - but then nor can most other cars, however its's still pretty good and well designed. What it does do is offer something no other European car can offer. The SMax can handle like a small hatchback, it rides like a large well sprung executive car, it has plenty of grunt from it's torquey engines (diesels best suit it's size) it can carry 7 people or it can carry 5 and a huge load of luggage. It looks sharply designed, it has bags of equipment and has the reliability to feel like it will go on for ever. I don't understand why they don't sell them in the States (unless they are worried about stealing sales from other cars in the Ford range which can't offer what it offers) Still, the point is, I really enjoy how it corners, goes, stops and how it manages to ride so smoothly, yet I can load it up with 2000 litres of junk....Brilliant!!
Nihar Mazumdar
I say bring it. But please not S-Max name. Call it the new Windstar. Also, have it replace the awkwardly styled Flex.
IK
This is probably the new Transit Connect test mule. Not S-Max or Galaxy.
John
As a Mazda5 owner, I say bring it, but, to be honest, I love the Mazda's size. Smaller than most cars, but bigger than most SUVs on the inside. What I REALLY want is a 4-wheel drive SUV/Van, with sliding doors and all of the camping/travel accessories. And a turbo diesel engine. And a dual clutch transmission.
Tom
I agree with all of these comments. This looks like something I would be interested in. Ford got out of the minivan market after a couple of decades of half-hearted efforts. I would like to see a smaller mini van in the US like the Mazda 5. Yes, yes, I know the Mazda doesn't sell well, but I believe that has more to do with being a Mazda, and the fact that I have not ever seen a tv ad for it, let along one that touts it's unique virtues. With Fords marketing clout and customer loyalty, this should be a real winner.
Brockway
A van this size would be perfect for the US. The Flex and the Explorer are great vehicles – but they are no minivans. For anyone who appreciates the versatility of a true minivan, an SUV or crossover is no substitute. Ford needs a US minivan slotted between the Mazda 5 and the behemoth vans from Honda (Odyssey), Toyota (Sienna), Nissan (Quest), and Chrysler (Grand Caravan). Have you seen how huge those vans are? A smaller choice with better mileage would be a hit – but it needs to have true minivan seating which allows access to all the rows from within the van. Can the passenger in the front seat walk to the third row to take care of a crying child, while the vehicle is going 65 mph down the highway, in a Flex or an Explorer? I can in my 2003 Honda Odyssey. Folding the second and third row seats flat in a typical SUV or crossover can’t give you the cavernous space that you have in minivan with the seats folded into the floor, or removed. It’s just not the same. I was really looking forward to the Grand C-max being available in the US when it was shown at the 2011 auto shows, but then Ford opted for the regular C-max and in hybrid and electric versions only. I did have my concerns though that even the Grand C-max may have been lacking in the leg room we expect here in the US. A stretched version may take care of that problem and be a perfect fit. If Ford had offered the S-Max here in the US over the last few years, I think it could have successfully changed the image of mini vans as dumpy and out of style. The S-Max looks great. They would have had to make the seating more like a traditional minivan though so that it would be further differentiated from the Flex, Edge and Explorer and have the versatility that mini-van owners expect.
Dave_in_Rio_Rancho
Ford should pull the trigger on this for the US market. Twenty-eight years after the first Chrysler mini, it is time for someone to redefine "the mini-van." Ford has the advanced small displacement engines to make this work.
JB
I'm guessing a replacement for the Flex, or a extended version of a model that competes with the Mazda5. However, I don't think the model will look like this. It has the awkward proportions of the old Chevy Trailblazer EXT.

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