• Design continues Ford's distinctive look
  • Flexible interior is complemented by high-end materials
  • Features such as a heart rate monitor added to improve health

The Ford S-Max Concept that the automaker will debut this month at the Frankfurt Auto Show looks familiar. This 7-passenger vehicle bears more than a passing resemblance to the Ford C-Max, a 5-passenger hybrid vehicle available here in the U.S. The larger S-Max is unlikely to make it to the U.S.; the current version is aimed at European customers. But the vehicle does show American drivers what we can expect in future Ford products.

The front-end treatment is pure Ford, with a high-mounted hexagonal grille and horizontal headlights that sweep back dramatically. It's the look we've come to admire on vehicles such as the Fusion and Escape, and the look we expect for the next-gen Mustang when it arrives next year.

Not all the design elements in the S-Max carry over from other Ford models, though. The panoramic roof is decidedly unique. It flows uninterrupted from the top of the windshield and tapers toward the back of the vehicle.

Inside, the Ford S-Max Concept includes upscale appointments such as a leather-wrapped instrument panel and leather and carbon fiber for the seats. The third-row seats are exceptionally thin, adding flexibility and improving space. For the second row, the center seat folds into the floor, creating a pass-through to the third row.

Martin Smith, executive design director for Ford of Europe, says designers were careful to get the interior details just right, conveying both visual appeal and quality. Until we can get our hands on the S-Max at the show, we can't know for sure if vents and switches operate as well as they look. But designers got these details right in other current Ford products, such as the C-Max, so expectations are high.

The Ford S-Max Concept has a few unique interior features for the health of the driver and passengers. A heart rate monitor built into the front seat connects with SYNC, Ford's telematics platform, and can alert medical professionals of unusual activity or an emergency. A glucose level monitor can warn parents of a child's diabetic episode.

Although American drivers are unlikely to get their hands on a Ford S-Max soon, the 7-passenger vehicle reveals the direction Ford's global vehicles are headed. And while a glucose level monitor may not be at the top of every shopper's priority list, attractive interior and exterior design certainly improves appeal. Ford delivers in those departments with the S-Max Concept.

What it means to you: A production version of the Ford S-Max Concept is unlikely to be offered in the U.S., but attributes from the 7-passenger vehicle will almost certainly find their way into Ford's North American lineup.

See all Frankfurt Auto Show news

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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