New & Used Ford Fiesta: In Depth
2014 Ford Fiesta 5-doorEnlarge Photo
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Whether you opt for the four-door sedan or five-door hatchback version of the Ford Fiesta, you'll end up with an economical small car that has a little more endearing personality than most other such picks.
The Fiesta competes with the likes of the Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Honda Fit, Mazda2, Hyundai Accent, and the MINI Cooper; and across its lineup, this smallest Ford is now offered in a wide range of models, including standard four-cylinder models, a stronger and more fuel-efficient EcoBoost model, and a high-performance Fiesta ST.
For more on the current lineup, including pricing with options, see our full review of the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Also check out this Quick Spin in a 2014 Ford Fiesta SE, and our First Drive of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST.
The Fiesta was Ford's first new entry this small since the unloved Aspire faded away more than a decade ago. Adapted for U.S. sales from a model sold in Europe since the 1970s, the North American Fiesta offers better performance and more equipment as standard--not to mention a greater number of safety features.
Before the 2011 model, the last Ford Fiesta—a subcompact three-door hatchback—was sold in the U.S. from 1978 to 1980. Ford followed that car with the Festiva three-door (1986-1993) and then replaced it with the Aspire three-door (1994-1997). The 2011 car is an entirely different animal, a fully modern car with enjoyable roadholding, modern design, and a wide range of popular options. The modern-day Fiesta's “expressive” and “vibrant” styling inside and out, along with bright paint colors and a dashboard center stack designed to resemble a mobile-phone keypad, eradicated any trace of those cars' "econobox" roots.
With the Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Sonic, and Nissan Versa all having been launched or renewed for 2012, the current Fiesta is one of the older designs in its segment. The oldest of them all, the Honda Fit, remains competitive by offering carrying capacity for people and their goods with simply unparalleled interior flexibility. Get rid of that image of bare-bones, cheap-as-dirt small cars, though. The Fiesta starts around $14,000, but a fully decked-out model can stretch to $20,000 or more.
Big changes arrived to the Fiesta lineup for 2014. Ford restyled the front end, and introduced a softer look inside, complemented by a stripped-down version of MyFordTouch, based on the popular SYNC Bluetooth-driven infotainment controller. Unfortunately, not all versions dropped the confusing, slanted-button array of the base audio setup.
The 120-hp, 1.6-liter base engine remains what's under the hood for most Fiesta models. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, but the automatic option is an unusual and technically advanced six-speed “PowerShift” direct-shift gearbox (DSG). We have experienced a few drivability issues with the PowerShift transmission, which wasn't as smooth as we'd hoped. Engine noise in the earlier cars was also an issue, but the 2014 models are a bit better.
In the EcoBoost model, the Fiesta gets 123 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque, allowing 32 mpg city and 45 mpg highway, as well as a perkier driving experience. This model is only offered with a six-speed manual, however. The same is true for the performance-focused Fiesta ST, gets a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, rated at 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. In addition to its manual-only setup, this "hot hatch" has a tauter sport suspension as standard.
Features are a strength of the Fiesta. Even the base model includes air conditioning and an aux-in port; while at the SE level you get upgraded trim and lighting. SES Sport and SEL models get upgraded sound, LED driving lamps, and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, plus big alloy wheels. These features haven't changed all that much since the model's introduction, although for 2013 Ford consolidated the Fiesta lineup into three trims: S, SE, and Titanium.
The Fiesta's narrow body and tight backseat didn't make it as useful as some other vehicles in this class--especially compared to the cavernous interior of the Versa sedan or the flexible Fit. In reviews of the Fiesta, though, we noted that the Fiesta steers and handles far better than most of the numb, soft appliance-vehicles in the class.
Options includes a power moonroof and Ford Racing wheels, along with several sport appearance packages. Among other novel features, the Fiesta driver can choose among several different colors of LED “mood lighting” to illuminate its cup holders, footwells, and so forth.