New & Used Ford Fiesta: In Depth
2014 Ford Fiesta SE - Driven, March 2014Enlarge Photo
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The Ford Fiesta is available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. Although it’s the smallest model in Ford’s lineup, it comes in several forms, from the economical to fun and sporty. It competes with the Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Honda Fit, MINI Cooper, Hyundai Accent, and the Mazda2.
The Fiesta is 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 are coming to the Fiesta: Ford will restyle the front end of the 2014 model year Fiesta. For the first time, it will also offer a stripped-down version of MyFordTouch, based on the popular SYNC Bluetooth-driven infotainment controller.
The 2014 model year will also see two new engine options for the subcompact Fiesta. The 120-hp, 1.6-liter base engine will continue. 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 likely to be better in that regard--depending on your expectations.
EPA fuel economy ratings rolled in at 28/38 or 29/39 for the 2013 models, but with a $795 Super Fuel Economy Package (special tires and aerodynamic improvements), the Fiesta's highway rating was boosted to 40 mpg.
One of the two new engines for 2014 is Ford's first-ever three-cylinder engine, offering a new and more fuel-efficient alternative to the base 1.6-liter four used in every U.S. Fiesta to date. The new 1.0-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine will deliver 148 pound-feet of torque and roughly 123 horsepower. Ford is working hard to deliver gas-mileage ratings of up to 40 mpg or more on the EPA's highway test cycle.
The second new engine comes in a new model, the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST; it's a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, rated at 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. That "hot hatch" model will come only with a six-speed manual gearbox, along with a tauter sport suspension as standard. For more on the Fiesta ST, visit our first drive review.
Features are a strength of the Fiesta. Even the base $13,995 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. We weren't fans of the odd, slanted instrument panel used in 2011-2013 Fiestas, so the revised 2014 dashboard is a step in the right direction.
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.