WAY MORE AGILE THAN IT LOOKS
Sadly, there are precious few crossovers that provide even a hint of driving entertainment. Steering is most often calibrated for ease of parking and any hint of feedback is intentionally purged. Body motions are, by decree, mushy to smooth out bump and grind incursions.
The Ford S-Max does not subscribe to the above calibration theories. It instead has well damped ride motions and a firmly restrained body dynamics. Without pummeling occupants with a too-stiff ride, it handles quick driving and twisty roads with poise. The steering wheel isn't merely a place for the driver to hang on, it's where regular news reports from the pavement are delivered to keep the pilot well informed.
We found ourselves so lulled by the S-Max's well rounded competence and superb driving comportment than we had to wake up now and then and pinch flesh to realize that this is a largish family wagon, not a German-born sport sedan. The one we drove costs the world -- nearly $50,000 with top trim and a full load of options -- but we'd rate it well worth the price. In present form, it would be an excellent alternative to Lincoln's ungainly MKT. The next-generation S-Max can't get here soon enough for us.
Ford S-MAX Titanium X-Sport
Base Price: $31,015
As-Tested: $48,000 (estimated)
Engine: Turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve four-in-line
Horsepower: 200 (RPM N/A)
Torque: 221 lb-ft (RPM N/A)
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive: Front wheel
Length x Width x Height: 187.7 x 74.2 x 65.3 in
Cargo (seats up/down): 10.1/37.1/70.6 cu ft
European fuel economy: 21/37/29 mpg (city/highway/combined)