- Sharp styling (5-door especially)
- Great steering, maneuverability
- Respectable safety ratings
- Strong feature set
- 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.
2013 Ford Fiesta
Inside and out, the spicy styling of the 2013 Ford Fiesta hides its affordable intentions.
The Fiesta helped Ford take a new path with small car design, and when the automaker brought this small-car family to the U.S. a couple of years ago it was truly more expressive and vibrant than most other models its size.
With its arched roofline and crisp profile, we like the Fiesta's wedge-like side view, along with how the hatchback's rear pillar nips and tucks. And in a trend that's all over the industry now (but the Fiesta was one of the first), the headlights sweep well back into the fenders. High-mounted taillights rise into the rear pillars, in a position that's both functional and stylish.
Overall, the four-door sedan doesn't raise our pulse to nearly the same degree--the proportions just don't come together in the same way, and the shorter passenger greenhouse tends to make it appear a little more tall and narrow, perhaps--but it's a neat, trim design nevertheless.
Inside, the 2013 Fiesta isn't any less exciting, but we have to say that this isn't a top pick for those who want simplicity and function over form. Ford based the instrument panel around mobile-phone keypads, and while the angled keys of the dash look good, they're not all that for functionality. Drivers can choose among seven "mood lighting" colors to illuminate areas like the cup holders and foot wells. Interior colors on higher trim levels aren't limited to standard black, but include hues like plum and cashmere.
In following, Ford has given the Fiesta an especially bright--some might say shocking, or garish--palette of colors, including ones like Lime Squeeze and Bright Magenta. But if you're less shout-out-loud, there are silver, black, and white shades, an Oxford White package with sharp contrasts, and a Race Red package with red-and-black leather seats and trim.
2013 Ford Fiesta
The 2013 Ford Fiesta is responsive and handles well, but it's not quick.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta definitely hints with its styling that it's a little more extroverted than most other subcompacts. And while the Ford Fiesta does have chassis tuning that's on the sporty side, it really is what it is: a light, maneuverable four-cylinder small car with respectable gas mileage figures.
Against the group of subcompacts that pairs a low sticker price with high mileage, the Fiesta manages to be one of the strongest performers, and its 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is actually enough to move the 2,600-pound Fiesta quite rapidly. It's not quick by any gauge (we're talking about ten seconds to 60 mpg), but there's a sense of responsiveness you might not expect considering a car that can hit 40 mpg.
The five-speed manual is our recommendation, among the two transmissions, with its light, precise feel. Otherwise the six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic that leaves a lot to be desired in low-speed driving, with some lurchiness and indecision, and it can simply take too long to downshift for more power.
Much like the original Mazda Miata, the Fiesta does a great job convincing you it has more performance credentials than it really does, and good steering and suspension tuning is key to this. The electric power steering system has just the right amount of weighting and feedback, and the Fiesta feels responsive and nimble, but secure enough for highway trips. the Fiesta feels nimble around town, secure enough on the highway. This is a short car, and noticeable nosedive when stopping quickly is the only bothersome trait.
2013 Ford Fiesta
Comfort & Quality
The seating space and comfort of the 2013 Fiesta aren't quite on par with same-sized rivals, but materials and refinement are.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta doesn't have the space efficiency inside of rival models like the Honda Fit, but you do get a reasonably comfortable interior that should be just fine for the commute, or for taking the kids to after-school activities.
Front seats in the Fiesta are a bit short and flat, and way too much like barstools, so the lack of support or contouring makes a long highway trip more of a chore (to the back) than it needs to be. Headroom and legroom in back is tight for rear passengers, and adults over six feet tall will find the rear seats tight; front and rear passengers may have to negotiate over how far the seats go back. But the Fiesta's body is quite narrow, meaning that you won't be able to fit three adults in back and front driver and passenger will find elbows close.
The 60-40 split rear seatback makes the Fiesta's layout about on par with other small hatchbacks and sedans. Cloth is standard, with leather and contrasting piping on higher-end models--a nice MINI-like touch in a car available at almost half the price.You definitely get more versatility with the Fiesta five-door hatchback models, with their capacity of up to 26 cubic feet, but the sedan offers a roomy (for this small of a car) 12.8 cubic feet of trunk space in its trunk.
Interior materials are a strong point, and we appreciate Ford's effort to keep the interior from being at all drab. On an individual basis you might find better materials for the price, but in the Fiesta it's just all extremely well coordinated. The adjustable cupholders are also particularly useful for households that might have both espresso sippers and Big Gulp gulpers.
Ride quality is only so-so here. As the Fiesta is a rather short small car, some traits like hoppiness on highway expansion joints are hard to mask. But Ford has made some significant efforts with sound-deadening here, with a laminated windshield and a sound blanket under the hood. When accelerating, the engine note can be a bit too much in the forefront, however.
2013 Ford Fiesta
The 2013 Ford Fiesta does better than many subcompacts in safety tests, and its feature set gets the nod.
On real U.S. roads, where most vehicles are larger, getting a subcompact model should involve some serious consideration of safety scores and features. And it should be reassuring to know that at least among other cars its size, the 2013 Ford Fiesta is one of the safer picks.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Fiesta top 'good' results in frontal, side, rear, and roof-strength tests--as well as the Top Safety Pick designation in previous years. And in federal tests, the Fiesta has earned four out of five stars overall, including top five-star results for frontal impact but a four-star result in side impact--with an asterisk noting a high likelihood of thoracic injury.
But safety-feature content is strong; front and side bags for driver and passenger, rear side curtain bags, and a knee airbag for the driver are all included. And the electric power steering incorporates Pull-Drift Compensation, which keeps the Fiesta tracking properly.
2013 Ford Fiesta
Available leather seats and Ford's SYNC interface go a long way to erase any econobox impression.
When Ford launched the Fiesta a couple of model years ago, it went against the small-car grain in offering a number of larger-car amenities in a small-car package. Now for 2013 Ford has made the package more competitive in the small-car market by streamlining the Fiesta into three models--S, SE, and Titanium--with the S model more focused for value-minded shoppers.
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. Then top-of-the-line Titanium models, which start at around $18k, earn up to painted alloy wheels, extra chrome trip, 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.
2013 Ford Fiesta
The 2013 Ford Fiesta is no greener than its peers, but its gas mileage numbers are respectable.
The 2013 Fiesta doesn't exceed the 40-mpg figure that now earns kudos in the market, but it does meet it in at least one form. With ratings as high as 30 mpg city, 40 highway, fuel efficiency is definitely a strong selling point for the Fiesta, whether you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint or just keep your motoring budget as low as possible.
There is a catch here: To get those top ratings, what you need is the $395 Fuel Economy Package. With it, you add aerodynamic improvements, low-rolling-resistance tires, and cruise control. But perplexingly, it's only offered on the SE trim, so you have to be a pretty dedicated Fiesta fan to seek it out.
For the rest of the model lineup, EPA ratings are 28 mpg city, 37 highway with the five-speed manual gearbox, or 29/38 with the six-speed Powershift dual-clutch transmission.