How good are wagons? The space, the road manners… I think if more people bought wagons instead of SUVs, they'd probably be far happier. Alas, the sales figures suggest otherwise. But, since Ford and Holden’s large car-based wagons are either extinct or about to be, the family-lugging mantle has fallen to mid-size wagons. Mid-size wagons such as the 2017 Ford Mondeo Wagon.
Medium car sales may have ended 2016 down 4.5 per cent year-on-year, but that doesn’t mean the segment is devoid of quality – particularly when it comes to wagons.
On test here is the mid-spec, diesel-powered 2017 Ford Mondeo Trend Wagon.
Teaming a 132kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Trend Wagon starts at $42,340 (before on-road costs). That prices it more than the $41,440 Mazda 6 Touring Wagon, but less than the $42,990 Skoda Octavia RS 135TDI Wagon and the $44,850 Hyundai i40 Premium Tourer, and a fair whack below the $49,490 Volkswagen Passat 140TDI Highline.
At 4867mm long, the Mondeo is the largest of the cars mentioned above, with its length only 70mm shorter than a Holden Commodore Sportwagon. That said, the Blue Oval’s mid-sizer is still 186mm shy of the car it effectively replaced, the five-metre-plus BF Ford Falcon Wagon.
Sitting above the $39,040 (before on-road costs) Ambiente diesel wagon, the Trend is well equipped.
Keyless entry and a push-button start, adaptive cruise control (ACC), and 17-inch alloy wheels are all standard, along with dual-zone climate control, an electronic parking brake, a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, automatic projector headlights with daytime running lights and auto-high beam, and rain-sensing wipers.
Ford’s programmable ‘MyKey’ system is also included, along with front fog lights, rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and eight-way heated power-adjustable cloth and leather sports front seats with three memory settings for the driver.
Announced back in July 2016 as part of a ‘2016.75’ model-year update, all Mondeos now feature Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system. Joining an 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, the improved system is more responsive than before and features larger on-screen buttons and touch points. As per Sync 2, it’s also partnered with emergency assistance, voice commands, and Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming.
Although the Ford Mustang has copped recent flak for its less-than-impressive safety, the Mondeo has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, a swag of airbags – including side-curtain airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, and two rear seatbelt airbags – two ISOFIX-compatible rear seats, hill-start assist, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology such as active city stop and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.
The Trend Wagon also comes with a lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist – although it can occasionally feel as though you’re forced to battle the latter for who’s right when it comes to staying in your lane – however, blind-spot monitoring is a strange omission, reserved exclusively for the $7000 dearer top-spec Titanium.
As James Ward called out in April last year in his Ford Mondeo Trend sedan review, there’s not too much inherently wrong with the Mondeo, it just lacks flair, and fails to inspire. Unfortunately, while I personally dig the wagon body style over the sedan, it’s the same scenario with the 'wags'.
Inside, the cabin is a mix of gloss black accents, silver, black, and grey trims, some chrome detailing, and grey stitching highlights. There’s a beige headliner, a soft-touch dash, some harder wearing plastics, clicky power mirror and window switches, and similarly non-premium-feeling indicator and wiper stalks.
The squishy multi-function steering wheel is a good size and feels nice in the hands, though, the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters attached to it are small, and cheap to the touch. And although the steering wheel itself has 22 buttons on it, they’re all positioned and clustered together cleverly enough to fall to hand easily.
The Mondeo’s door pockets are a decent length, but their shallow lip isn’t ideal for keeping items in. Fortunately, there’s good alternative storage space in the glovebox, centre console bin, and at the base of the centre stack. Up front, there are also two rubber-lined cupholders, two 12-volt outlets, two USB inputs, and a rubber-lined roof-mounted sunglasses holder.
Vision out isn’t bad thanks to big windows, A- and C-pillar glass cut-outs, and a respectably-sized rear-view mirror and rear window. However, be aware of the Mondeo’s thick B- and C-pillars, particularly when changing lanes or reversing.
Admittedly a potentially subjective area, I and others found the Monde’s front seats to be disappointing and rather uncomfortable – especially on longer drives.
Luckily, despite a slightly awkward rear door aperture, jumping into the backseat is more positive, with the second row offering stacks of rear headroom and loads of rear legroom.
Toe-room is a little more limited, and there is a small rear floor hump to contend with, but those in the back are gifted rear air vents, a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders and a storage cubby, one 12-volt outlet, two map pockets, and small door pockets.
Drop the 60:40 split-fold rear seats – only achievable via conventional shoulder releases, with the Mondeo sans any handy boot-mounted releases – and you can expand the Ford’s 730-litre boot to 1605L (laden to the roof).
Interestingly, although the Mondeo Wagon’s seat-up capacity trumps its previously mentioned rivals, its maximum volume is the smallest of the lot. Both are also mere drops in the ocean comparative to the old Falcon Wagon, which offered a colossal – and Holden Sportwagon-topping – 1254L seats up and 2584L seats down.
Regardless, the Mondeo’s rear end is home to storage cubbies, one 12-volt outlet, two tie-down points, a foldable flat floor, a space-saver spare tyre, an adjustable cargo blind, and two unfathomably annoying luggage hooks that are so incredibly stubby that they are rendered largely useless. Also less-than-helpful is the Mondeo’s heavy non-power tailgate that’s unnecessarily springy to try and close – an issue worked around by the power tailgate standard on the Titanium Ford Mondeo Wagon.
On the road, the Mondeo’s hit-and-miss nature again comes to light. Rarely poor but equally rarely impressive, the Ford Mondeo Trend Wagon executes its brief with adequate poise and little excitement.
Cruising at 100km/h on the freeway, at around 1800rpm, the Ford’s cabin is impressively hushed, with only mild wind noise and fractionally more road noise noticeable.
The diesel engine and dual-clutch automatic gearbox work well together, with the transmission only occasionally caught napping. Responding quickly and cleverly enough in most situations, drivers can take matters into their own hands via the paddle shifters, although, why you’d want/need paddle-shifters in a diesel family wagon is still beyond me.
Flexible and able to deliver positive linear torque from between 1000-1500rpm, the 2.0-litre oiler provides good, steady pick up from 1500-2000rpm, with most shifts taken care of below 2500rpm. That said, an early stomp on the throttle can result in some front-wheel scramble from the 235mm-wide, 50-aspect Goodyear EfficientGrip tyres, and some rudimentary diesel clatter from the engine as revs rise beyond 3000-4000rpm.
Assisted by the diesel Mondeo’s standard engine stop-start technology – which can be a fraction slow to tick back over once you’ve taken your foot off the brake – we netted an average fuel consumption figure of 6.3 litres per 100km – 1.0L/100km off the car’s 5.3L/100km claim.
Disconcertingly inconsistent, the electric power-assisted steering is not only odd and somewhat delayed in its response, its weighting changes from being quite hefty just off centre, to lightening up as you add more lock.
Add to this the sometimes patchy intervention from the lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control systems, and combined, confidence can be occasionally hard to muster. Frustratingly too – especially in zero-tolerance Victoria – the ACC must be ‘activated’/turned on every time you get in the car, and set speeds can only be adjusted by a minimum of 5km/h increments. The Mondeo’s lack of a digital speedo, is another sore point worth mentioning.
On the plus side, the brakes are quite good, washing off speed well via a nice, progressive, and consistent pedal, and the middle-tier Mondeo’s ride/handling balance is a good family-car-oriented mix of comfort and dynamic performance.
It still doesn’t enjoy sharper imperfections, such as potholes and train/tram tracks, but the ride never becomes busy or crashy – although negotiating consistent corrugations and ruts is where the Mondeo is least happy.
Speed humps do risk scraping the Ford’s low front end, and be it driving around town or through tighter country bends, the 1713kg Mondeo (heavier than all of its key rivals) can feel quite big and heavy.
Before spending time with the 2017 Ford Mondeo Trend Wagon, the long-serving nameplate was one I felt more Australians should be buying into, or at least considering – especially since the 2010 demise of the Falcon wagon. But while it’s not a bad car, it isn’t perfect. And in this specification at least, despite its strong list of standard equipment, it’s the things you use every day (such as the seats, tailgate, and driver aids) that proved the most frustrating.
Realistically though, the biggest problem the Mondeo faces is its competitor set. There are some high-quality cars in this segment, offering more style, more space, and more fun for similar money. Even Ford’s three-year/100,000km warranty is bettered by its rivals.
The Mondeo then, in isolation, is no bad car. Its negatives, however minor, are legitimate though. Thus, barring some shortfalls, the 2017 Ford Mondeo Trend Wagon is a car that delivers on expectation most of the time, but equally, rarely exceeds it.
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