Family cars come in all sizes. Some are fuel-sipping compacts or subcompacts, or fuel-efficient midsize sedans. Some families consider a crossover, SUV or minivan essential. But the family vehicle stable generally includes one or more inexpensive cars. Continuing the Family Car Guide week-long series on cheap cars with big value, today’s highlight car is the 2011 Ford Fiesta.
First, a word about the criteria. To qualify, the base starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) has to be under $20,000. In addition, the car has to offer more than expected, whether in standard safety or technology features, styling, high fuel economy, or other factors.
2011 Ford Fiesta
Making its debut in the U.S. after being sold in other world markets for a couple of years, the 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact, available as a sedan or hatchback, meets the price criteria for cheap cars with big value. The base S sedan carries a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $13,320. SE sedan starts at $14,320 and SEL at $16,320. In the hatchback form, Fiesta SE begins at $15,120 and top-line SES at $17,120. So what else does Fiesta offer in the area of more than expected? Let’s take a look.
2011 Ford Fiesta Sedan
All-New Model – Yes, the 2011 Ford Fiesta is an all-new model – to the U.S., that is, and it’s one that’s been eagerly awaited by consumers familiar with Fiesta’s top reputation in European markets. Key attributes that contribute to Fiesta’s growing popularity here include zippy ride, youthful design, high build quality, comfortable cabin (for the price), and hybrid-like fuel economy. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat, and capless fuel filler are standard. The sedan has 12.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity, but the hatchback, although the rear seats fold down, only has 26 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row.
Performance and Fuel Economy – Most reviewers agree that Fiesta offers a winning combination of smooth power, zippy handling on the road and excellent fuel economy. There’s only a single powerplant, a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter twin-independent variable cam timing (Ti-VCT) Duratec four-cylinder engine that teams up with a standard five-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic. As for fuel economy, the best is achieved with the SFE package (available with SE sedan/SE hatchback with automatic) – an EPA-estimated 29 mpg city/40 mpg highway. Models with five-speed manual get 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway, and six-speed auto (not SFE) is 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway.
Safety – Fiesta comes with seven standard airbags (including driver’s knee airbag), integrated blind-spot mirrors, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control, traction control and antiskid system. In safety tests, the 2011 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. In new, more stringent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, Fiesta earned an overall rating of four out of five stars, with four star rating in front crash and rollover tests and a five-star side crash score.
2011 Ford Fiesta Hatchback SES Instrument Panel
Gadgets & High-Tech – Notable among Fiesta’s available features are Ford’s Sync voice-activated control for cell phones and MP3 players, keyless engine start, sunroof, and heated front seats.
The 2011 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback offer families affordable transportation in a small car that’s fun-to-drive, efficient, versatile, comfortable, offers near-hybrid fuel economy (especially with SFE package), and impressive safety ratings. All good reasons why Ford Fiesta ranks right up there in Family Car Guide’s list of cheap cars with big value.
Also check out The Car Connection review of the 2011 Ford Fiesta where editors give it an overall 8 (out of 10) rating.