- Sharp styling (5-door especially)
- Great steering, maneuverability
- Respectable safety ratings
- Interior space somewhat disappointing
- Balky PowerShift transmission
- Fashion-victim audio controls
Small cars don't need to be bland--the 2013 Ford Fiesta proves that with a saucy look and pert handling.
The Ford Fiesta isn't the cheapest car you can buy, nor is it the smallest. It's not even a gas-mileage zealot, when you consider the ultra-high mileage achieved by some other subcompacts now bracing us all for stiff new fuel-economy regulations.
Instead, the Fiesta is smaller, zippier, and less expensive than the average Focus, without losing its focus on driving fun and features. It's tiny inside for sure--but it's no penalty box.The Fiesta looks stylish and even a bit racy, with an urban-runabout element that had been missing from Ford's U.S. lineup, and in this respect you mostly get exactly what you see. With impressive steering and handling and a nimble, maneuverable feel that's better than most softened, numbed appliances its size, the Fiesta is securely on the fun-to-drive side of the ledger. Meanwhile the Fiesta's powertrains are nothing special; the 120-hp, 1.6-liter four, for 2,600 pounds, is quick enough, although we're not big fans of the PowerShift transmission that you need to opt for if you don't like shifting gears.
Great first impressions are the Fiesta's specialty; it has well-coordinated colors and textures inside, and it'll impress as well above its price class at first look. But there are many of the typical small-car sacrifices--like a bit too much engine noise in some situations, and a choppy ride on some freeway surfaces. The narrow body and tight backseat whittle down its usefulness for long road trips, too, though we like the added versatility of the hatchback models. Then there's the Fiesta's instrument-panel layout, which clumps audio controls into an odd array of slanted buttons.
For 2013, Ford has rejiggered the Fiesta into three trims and consolidated some of the goodies into a lower number of builds. What that means is that you'll likely get an even better value for the money. With the Fiesta S starting at just $13,995, you get air conditioning and a 40-watt sound system with aux-input and four speakers. Add a Convenience Package and you can get keyless entry and an upgraded sound system even on that model. Next up is the SE, which adds keyless entry, power windows, Ford's Sync hands-free connectivity system, steering-wheel audio controls, a trip computer, and upgraded sound.
At the price of top Titanium models, which start at around $18k, you could have a well-equipped Focus, or maybe even a slightly used Fusion, but then you wouldn't get things like its standard painted alloy wheels, extra chrome trim, LED running lamps, heated mirrors, heated leather seats, push-button start, and an ambient lighting system. Remote start is optional, and several sport appearance packages can add some spice to the look.