MENTION people carriers to motoring enthusiasts and it conjures up all sorts of images of bulky, unrefined, slow, square-shaped and generally ugly vehicles that offer very little in the way of driving dynamics.
But there are a few really good models out there to be explored and one of them is definitely the Ford Galaxy which offers all the versatility, practicality, comfort that a seven-seater should, but also proves that there's more to life than shifting people.
Now in its fourth generation and celebrating its 21st birthday, the new Galaxy looks the business with its larger-than-life dimensions, 18-inch alloys, privacy glass, opening panoramic roof, sculpted bonnet, neat chrome trim and LED adaptive headlights with glare-free feature which optimises driving at night.
The interior is spacious as one would expect, but it's the clever technology that has been incorporated that helps this MPV really stand out from the crowd.
For example the third row of two seats can each be lowered or raised at the push of a button situated in the boot. The trio of individual second row seats can be lowered at the press of a button and then easily raised manually.
It's features like this which make life so much easier and quicker when an unexpected guest comes along for the ride.
Then there is the new Intelligent Speed Limiter system, which when activated scans traffic signs and adjusts the accelerator to help drivers stay within the legal speed limits and so avoid fines and penalty points.
Parking is made all the easier thanks to the Perpendicular Parking system that detects a suitable space and manoeuvres the vehicle hands-free into the gap. And there is Park-Out Assist to help you leave a parallel parking space - the system operates the steering while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.
The Cross Traffic Alert warns drivers who are reversing out of a parking space of any vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them.
All these features help to keep Galaxy occupants safe and secure whilst making their driving experience as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
There is a range of powertrains to choose from - a 2.0-litre TDCi diesel in 120PS, 150PS and 180PS along with petrol variants including the new fuel-efficient 1.5-litre 160PS EcoBoost and a 2.0-litre 240PS EcoBoost option.
Buyers can also select from three trim levels - Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X - with prices ranging from £26,445 to £36,760.
All models are well equipped and boast first class infotainment systems, including a clear and easy-to-use touchscreen, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, a great sound system with DAB radio, dual zone climate control and plenty more besides.
Obviously as well as being practical and feature-rich, passengers want to be comfortable and the new Galaxy offers additional space with second and third row occupants benefitting from an extra 10mm head room.
Storage options are very comprehensive too with good-sized door pockets that can hold large water bottles, trays in the back of the front seats, a deep central bin, glovebox, sunglasses holder, room behind the central console and a covered tray on the top of the dashboard.
I tried out the 2.0-litre 180ps diesel model mated to a six-speed manual gearbox in mid-trim Titanium format costing £30,795 (£36,290 with options). This model can reach from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and tops out at 131mph. according to official stats it can deliver combined fuel economy of 56.4mpg with carbon emissions of 129g/km.
It has to be said that despite its size the Galaxy is actually quite agile and easy to manoeuvre. It feels nicely composed with very little body roll even when pushed quite hard into bends.
Acceleration through the gears is both smooth and responsive with ample power on tap at all times. In busy villages and towns, it ambled along quite happily and had all the oomph and power needed to feel comfortable on faster motorways.
The elevated driving position is a must in this type of vehicle and the general all-round visibility is good within the car.
Additional sound-deadening materials have been added to the new Galaxy within the underbody shields, wheel arch liners, doors and headliner. In addition, acoustic glass has been introduced to reduce wind noise, although there is still a little road surface noise to be heard.
But that aside, it was hard to find fault with new Galaxy. Maybe I would have expected electrically-adjustable front seats for that outlay, but that's about all I can think of.
Admittedly, it's not going to be on every motorist's wish-list, but for anyone looking for an accomplished people mover that still offers plenty of techno treats and creature comforts along the way, the Ford Galaxy has proved its years of experience really do count.