2014 Ford Fiesta Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 12, 2014

Affordable small cars don't need to be bland, whether in appearance or from behind the wheel. And the 2014 Ford Fiesta is proof of that.

Americans are gradually getting over the preconception that small cars are inferior to larger ones. In fact, subcompacts like the 2014 Ford Fiesta can be downright charming and sensible. The Fiesta has been at that leading edge of the change in heart, with its flamboyant, sporty look and zippy driving experience. It's shown that small, inexpensive models don't need to be so soulless and appliance-like.

For 2014 it's poised to win many more hearts--with a new face, an improved interior, the tech-forward MyFord Touch system, and two new engines, both offering improved performance.

This year's new grille brings the Fiesta in line with the rest of the Ford lineup, and we think that it gives the hatchback especially a little added punch. Five-door hatchbacks are the sportier and better-looking of the two body styles, to almost all eyes, but there's a four-door sedan in the lineup, too. The five-door 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.

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The 120-hp, 1.6-liter four returns as the base engine. For 2,600 pounds, it's quick enough, especially if you get the manual transmission and keep the revs up; although we're not big fans of the PowerShift automatic transmission. The high-performance FIesta ST is new this year and, in overboost mode, puts out 197 horsepower and 214 lb-ft from its 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine; it's mated only to a six-speed manual gearbox and, with upgrades to braking, suspension, steering, and even tires (summer performance), it's a hoot to drive and hits all the hot-hatch buttons. Later in the year the lineup will be joined by an EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder model that's perkier than the base four while returning better mileage than it.

Especially considering this year's interior upgrades, the Fiesta makes a great first impression. It has well-coordinated colors and textures inside, and it'll impress as well above its price class at first look. Although it's not quite perfect; the base front seats tend to be a little flat and unsupportive, back seats don't fold fully flat, and the suspension can hop on rough surfaces. A coarse-sounding engine can detract from base models, yet a Sound Symposer in the ST performance model helps give you the right kind of engine sound, when you want it. But the driving position is great no matter what the model, and with the available Recaros in the ST, there's enough support for demanding mountain roads or all-day cruising.

Base Fiesta S models tend to be quite basic, despite the spiced-up look, and their manual-winding windows and steel wheels with hubcaps betray some cost-cutting--although air conditioning is included. But Fiesta SE models add a lot more popular equipment, like a perimeter alarm system, upgraded cloth interior, and ambient lighting, while the Titanium model includes upgraded Sony audio, and a rearview camera system. Standard on the Titanium and available on the Fiesta SE and ST is MyFord Touch, Ford's advanced system for controlling audio, connectivity, and navigation functions via a touch-screen system, as well as voice commands. Although not everyone will love the system, it cleans up the look and raises the ambiance.

8

2014 Ford Fiesta

Styling

The 2014 Fiesta continues to have one of the most flamboyant small-car designs, especially as a hatchback, but a minor makeover and new snout perk up the look for 2014.

Inexpensive cars don't need to aesthetically uninspired; and Ford clearly sets out to prove that with the 2014 Fiesta. You need only look at some of the colors offered for its exterior--like Blue Candy and Green Envy--to understand that this isn't a car designed for budget-conscious wallflowers. The Fiesta has style and flair inside and out, and it's really as flamboyant as you want it to be.

Several years ago, the Fiesta heralded a new path for 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 the arched roofline, crisp profile, and wedge-like side view (and the way the rear pillar nips and tucks), there's a lot to like about the Fiesta's proportions. The headlights sweep well back into the fenders, and the new wide-mouthed Ford grille, with lower bodywork, helps give it a somewhat more macho look from the front this year. High-mounted taillights rise into the rear pillars, in a position that's both functional and stylish.

Fiesta ST hatchbacks really make the most of the look, adding a more aggressive air dam and black-honeycomb-mesh grille, along with a cross-patterned rear diffuser and twin chromed exhaust tips.

The Fiesta four-door sedan is, to our eyes, a work in progress. The new grille seems to give the 2014 sedan a little more gravitas, which is needed, but the proportions just don't come together in the same way, and the longer body combined with the rather short passenger greenhouse make the car look tall and narrow from the front or rear.

Inside, the Fiesta was already one of the sharper entries in this class, too. But improvements that Ford has made to the instrument panel not only simplify the look for 2014 but also make the budget-priced Fiesta feel significantly up-market of other sub-$20k subcompacts. Ford is adding a soft-touch upper dash to the lineup, along with improved dash and door trim, as well as improved upholsteries and a new steering wheel. But the most noteworthy thing is front and center in the dash, where Titanium models get the MyFord Touch interface (it's also optional on SE and ST models).

The MyFord Touch isn't universally appealing, but it declutters the look versus the much-maligned base setup, which we're surprised to see Ford carrying through to 2014, with its slanted buttons and pre-smart-phone aesthetic.

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2014 Ford Fiesta

Performance

A new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine gives the 2014 Ford Fiesta a boost both in mileage figures and in zip; and a new Fiesta ST recasts this econocar as a hot hatch.

What a difference one model year makes for the Fiesta. Last year, with its 120-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine it was zippy, and one of the best-handling, if not the perkiest, of the budget-priced subcompacts in its class.

Now, the 2014 Ford Fiesta offers that same engine, but two other serious upgrades this year round out the lineup for those willing to pay a bit extra for more performance, better fuel economy, or both. A new EcoBoost model eyes mileage figures and offers a little more kick, while the Fiesta ST is a full-fledged hot-hatch with 197 hp--which goes a long way in something so small and light.

One of them is an all-new engine for the U.S. market--a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine making 123 horsepower. But with its 148 pound-feet of torque made at just 1,400 rpm, this little engine is bound to feel considerably stronger than the base 1.6-liter four. It will only be offered with a manual transmission, while models with the 1.6-liter four come with a choice between a five-speed manual and six-speed PowerShift automatic. 

We haven't been as impressed with the PowerShift automatic, which contributes to excellent gas mileage but doesn't always downshift promptly--or even upshift as smoothly (in the lower gears, especially) as a typical automatic.

With the standard four-cylinder engine, if you're willing to keep the revs up, you'll be happy enough with the performance you can extract from the Fiesta. It's plenty 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.

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.

Opt for the Fiesta ST, and you won't be disappointed. This is a model with enough performance chops to excite serious enthusiasts on a budget. With the same basic layout at the other Fiesta models, plus a somewhat lowered, stiffer suspension, rear disc brakes, and a quicker steering ratio, as well as an eTVC (torque vectoring) system to help get all the engine's 214 lb-ft of torque (in overboost mode) to the road effectively (through grippy summer performance tires), the ST has the goods to challenge the likes of the MINI Cooper S and Hyundai Veloster Turbo--and possibly even win some buyers over from larger fast hatches like the VW GTI and Ford Focus ST.

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2014 Ford Fiesta

Comfort & Quality

New materials and trims make a better first impression, and the Recaros in the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST are super-supportive.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta gets some pretty significant improvements in appearance, features, and even performance, but its packaging doesn't change. And while you can't expect the space efficiency of rival models like the Honda Fit, you do get a reasonably comfortable interior that should be just fine for the commute, or for taking the kids to after-school activities. A cleaned-up instrument panel, with soft-touch surfaces and a MyFord Touch interface also make it feel more upscale than before.

The base front seats in the Fiesta look nicely contoured, yet they're short and flat on real support--a bit like barstools--so give that some consideration if you're considering the Fiesta for a long highway commute. Headroom and legroom in back is tight for rear passengers, and adults over six feet tall will find the rear seats tight. Furthermore, 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.

There's nothing all that remarkable about the Fiesta's 60-40 split rear seatback, which doesn't fold fully flat--so it's yes usable in a pinch for cargo than either the segment leading (for utility) Fit or the larger Ford Focus. Five-door models offer a capacity of up to 26 cubic feet, and the sedans have an especially roomy trunk--up to 12.8 cubic feet.

We appreciate Ford's effort to keep the Fiesta's interior from being at all drab; interior trims and materials have been a strong point, and they've been made better for 2014 with a new soft-touch dash top. It's all very well-coordinated, and we appreciate the well-placed cupholders, plenty of small storage bins, and an excellent driving position.

If we have one complaint about, it's ride quality. The Fiesta tends to 'hop' over more jarring pavement bumps and potholes. But Ford has done a reasonably good job with sound deadening here, including a laminated windshield and a sound blanket under the hood.

High-performance Fiesta ST models get superior (although somewhat tight) Recaro seats that hug the sides yet provide taller drivers with more thigh support, and more lateral support in general for fast driving and tight corners. These optional seats may restrict rear-seat legroom somewhat. One other pretty significant difference in ST models is that you'll hear the engine a little more--in a good way--thanks to a so-called Sound Symposer that amplifies natural intake sounds and pipes them into the cabin. It's a good go-fast soundtrack, but not too fast-and-furious.

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8

2014 Ford Fiesta

Safety

The 2014 Ford Fiesta is no safety slouch; although it hasn't been at the front of the pack either.

Getting one of the smallest models on the market usually prompts a little more consideration of safety, as it should. And the 2014 Ford Fiesta might not be at the head of the class in occupant safety but it comes with plenty of safety features as well as excellent handling, which is an accident-avoidance asset in itself.

Front and side bags for driver and passenger, as well as 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.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Fiesta top 'good' results in frontal, side, rear, and roof-strength tests. But in the frontal offset test it achieves just a 'marginal' rating.

In federal tests, the Fiesta has earned four out of five stars overall, including four-star results for frontal impact. The previous five-star result in side impact (which carried an asterisk noting a high likelihood of thoracic injury) has been pulled for 2014.

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9

2014 Ford Fiesta

Features

MyFord Touch and leather seats are on offer, to help you erase any impressions that the 2014 Ford Fiesta is low-rent.

Ford has positioned the Fiesta quite differently from small cars of the past, in that it's offering a number of big-car features and amenities on the Fiesta lineup--if you're willing to opt up for them by paying what's essentially Focus money.

While trims and materials have been upgraded, and there are a few more standard features than before, prices on the Fiesta have gone up a bit. The base 2014 Fiesta S costs just $15,395 in hatchback form or $14,795 as a sedan, includes air conditioning, a CD sound system with six-speakers, Sync smartphone connectivity with voice activation, rear defrost, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; yet with hubcaps on steel wheels, and manual-winding windows, there are a few reminders that this is an 'economy car'--however cheerful it might drive.

Get the SE, and you step up to many more popular features, like keyless entry, an alarm, cruise control, and the MyKey system. An SE Appearance Package includes MyFord Touch, plus 16-inch painted alloy wheels, fog lamps, sport cloth seat trim, satellite radio, a leather shift knob, driver's lumbar adjustment, and an aluminum spare.

Top-of-the-line Titanium models include MyFord Touch, Sony premium audio, leather heated seats, automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, and other extras that make them feel far better equipped than you might expect in a low-cost small car.

The high-performance ST comes essentially equipped as an SE, but with all sorts of exclusive features, like unique ST-logo sport seats, black-painted interior finishes, aluminum sport pedals, black headlamp bezels, the high-mounted rear spoiler, special bodywork, and 17-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires. And that's of course before considering all the other performance equipment, including the sport suspension, the upgraded steering and brakes, and the 197-hp turbocharged engine.


 

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8

2014 Ford Fiesta

Fuel Economy

A new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine doesn't sacrifice pep, yet it returns more miles per gallon.

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.

Get the $395 Fuel Economy Package, and you enable an impressive 30 mpg city, 40 highway with the base engine, adding aerodynamic improvements, low-rolling-resistance tires, and cruise control. Perplexingly, at least in previous model years , this package has only been offered on the SE trim, so you have to be a pretty dedicated Fiesta fan to seek it out. We don't yet see this package listed for 2014 but will update it as Ford releases more info.

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.

We don't have anything official yet on what will be one of the most interesting stories for 2014, from a green-car standpoint. Ford is offering a new 1.0-liter EcoBoost model of the 2014 Fiesta. While this new model will be positioned above the base-engine models (and below the high-output ST, obviously), we're anticipating that it will be offered as an part of an option package on the SE and/or Titanium. With EPA Combined numbers expected to arrive in the mid-30s, with a likely EPA highway rating of 42 to 43, this model should offer a compelling mix of livelier acceleration with better fuel economy, compared to the the base model.

High-performance Fiesta ST models are actually very fuel-efficient, too. They get 26 mpg city, 35 highway.

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August 6, 2015
2014 Ford Fiesta 5-Door HB SE

Good Value Except for Trans Design Flaw

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Overall, the Fiesta would be a fine economy car, but there is a flaw in the auto trans design, which is the #1 owner complaint. Because of it, there is slipping, hesitation, and shuddering/shaking. The dealer... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2014 Ford Fiesta

get the manual, fun car

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Awesome car gor the money. Average fuel econony is at 34mpg. Lots of fun!
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