A reader, Philip from Belgium, wrote the other day, and commented on the Geneva Auto Show. He was looking forward to my comments on the show, and Ford's offerings. Well, I've never been to Geneva, and can only rehash what the auto rags have shown us. But I can of course put my own spin on it. This stylish people mover is the Ford S-Max for Europe. Look at those lines, it's smooth and exciting, well for a mini van it is. And style seems to be what seperates mini vans in the US and Europe.
This picture is of the Ford concept that became the S-Max. It's close to what will be built. Mini vans are more upscale in Europe, their design is just as important as sedans and coupes, not an afterthought like the ones we've gotten here.
Look at the interior on the Galaxy mpv, it's functional and comfortable and almost luxurious. Check out the sunroofs. Both the S-Max and it's slightly larger sibling Galaxy get similar roof treatments.
Maybe if Ford sold something like the Galaxy in the US, they wouldn't have to "abandon" the mini van market. Well, they're not really abandoning, they're trying to go stealth with the new Fairlane. The Fairlane, relying on the crossover label and SUV styling to distract people from the past crap.
And this is the crap I speak of. Ford FreeStar, a vehicle so bad, it's bad reputation affected sales of another new Ford the FreeStyle. Originally the WindStar, it's always been a decent value, with mediocre styling and dull driving dynamics. Ford got into mini vans late in the US, first with the AeroStar based on Ranger Mechanicals and then this Wind/Free Star, based loosely on Taurus mechanicals (I think, I know they shared engine and transmissions originally.)
Why can Ford produce such stylish, efficient and interesting vehicles for Europe and not for the US?