2019 Ford Fiesta Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
December 12, 2018

The 2019 Ford Fiesta can deliver thrills, but it shows its age in too many ways for us to recommend.

The 2019 Ford Fiesta subcompact sedan and hatchback vies for buyers on a budget, but they’d better act fast. Ford will phase out the Fiesta during the 2019 model year and sell only crossovers, SUVs, and pickups in the future.

The 2019 Fiesta enters its ninth model year unchanged. We rated it 3.7 out of 10. It’s hurt by weak safety scores and a dowdy interior, although its spunky personality still entertains on a curvy road. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Fiesta comes in S, SE, Titanium, and decidedly sporty Fiesta ST trims. The first three use a 120-horsepower inline-4 paired to manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions, while the hatchback-only ST has a zesty 197-hp turbo-4 mated to a slick-shifting manual transmission. Most Fiestas leave the factory with the dual-clutch automatic, which can be balky at low speeds.

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With its European-oriented suspension, the Fiesta has a firm ride and quick, responsive handling. Ample road noise and twitchy highway stability make it a wearing long-distance cruiser, however. The Fiesta ST turns things up to 11 but its turbo-4 rarely overwhelms its front wheels.

It’s a shame that the Fiesta ST’s strong powertrain and willing platform are wrapped up in a dated body. The narrow interior ensures that even slight front seat passengers will brush shoulders and the rear seat is decidedly tight, but the Fiesta hatchback has surprising utility.

The button-heavy dashboard can be cumbersome to sort through, although the Fiesta’s available 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment is a bright spot with its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The Fiesta earns the right numbers for its fuel economy, but the wrong ratings for crash safety. It lacks the latest active safety tech standard on some rivals and its crash-test ratings don’t impress.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Styling

The 2019 Ford Fiesta is curvy but confused inside and out.

Shoppers are probably not drawn into showrooms for the 2019 Ford Fiesta’s styling. The 2019 Fiesta hatchback has some nice curves, while the sedan is awkward at best. We dial a point back from average for the Fiesta’s busy interior, landing us at 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Most Fiestas have a chrome-heavy grille with horizontal bars that ties the small car in line with Ford’s larger Fusion sedan. The similarities end there, however. The Fiesta hatchback’s long roofline carries into a neatly truncated tail. Fiesta sedans look tall and narrow, even though their dimensions are about the same as hatchbacks.

Ford tosses typical go-fast styling upgrades to the Fiesta ST: bigger wheels, blacked-out trim, and a body kit.

Inside, the Fiesta’s dual-cowl dashboard puts audio controls up high, with climate knobs and buttons tucked low. Cars fitted with the standard 4.2-inch screen have myriad buttons, kind of like the flip phones that were in most owners’ pockets when this design hit the road a decade ago. The optional 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment works well but looks like the afterthought that it is.

Fiesta STs have their own upholstery trim and they can be fitted with grippy Recaro seats.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Performance

The 2019 Ford Fiesta can be a hoot to drive, but you’d better select the right options.

The 2019 Ford Fiesta was bred in Europe, which means that even the humblest of this lineup has communicative steering and good handling. That’s not enough to overcome the clunky automatic found on most Fiestas or a ride that can turn choppy over rough pavement. We rate the Fiesta at 4 out of 10 points accordingly. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Fiesta S, SE, and Titanium trims use a 1.6-liter inline-4 rated at 120 horsepower. A turbo-3 was briefly on offer but didn’t prove popular with consumers. The base engine is smooth and provides enough power to help the lightweight Fiesta keep up with traffic. The standard 5-speed manual is a gem, but the dual-clutch automatic transmission fitted to most Fiestas can be jerky at low speeds and often feels confused.

Even the base Fiesta S has a good driving position with a chunky steering wheel that fits its sporty demeanor. It relishes zipping down a winding road. Its ride is firm but composed, although a short wheelbase means the Fiesta can be choppy on some pavement.

The Fiesta ST uses a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that cranks out a healthy 197 hp, a lot of power for a car that’s well under 3,000 pounds with a full tank of fuel and a driver aboard. The Fiesta ST thrills on a curvy road, but it’s only available with a manual transmission and thus has a limited appeal.

Torque vectoring up for the front axle ensures that the Fiesta ST’s power doesn’t overwhelm its chassis. It never forgets that it’s a front-wheel-drive hatchback, but that’s part of this small car’s rorty charm.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Ford Fiesta is pint-sized inside, even for a subcompact car.

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in mathematics to realize that small cars don’t offer Escalade space inside. Even then, the 2019 Ford Fiesta is a tight fit for humans and their gear.

We rate it at 2 out of 10, dialing points back for its front and rear seats and another for dour trim on most models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Fiesta’s front seats look more comfortable than they are. Even after a short ride, their limited support will have most drivers yearning for a stretch break. The Fiesta is narrow, which means that drivers and passengers will likely brush shoulders.

Rear-seat accommodations are fine for kids but almost impossible for adults.

The Fiesta doesn’t redeem itself when it comes to cargo utility, either. Sedans hold just 12.8 cubic feet of luggage in their trunks, and hatchbacks are only marginally better at just over 14 cubes. The Fiesta ST is even tighter at a mere 10.1 cubic-feet of cargo capacity.

While the Fiesta ST has nice trim on its seats and door panels, most models leave the factory with cheap-feeling fabrics. In all, the plastic trim has a curious graining pattern that doesn’t hide how thin some materials are.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Safety

The 2019 Ford Fiesta lags when it comes to crash-test scores and active safety tech.

Most automakers don’t skimp on safety when it comes to their small cars, but the 2019 Ford Fiesta is a notable exception. No collision-avoidance tech is on its options list and both the IIHS and the NHTSA list some concerns with its crash-test performance.

Those demerits put the Fiesta at just 2 out of 10 points on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Fiesta comes with a full complement of airbags, stability control, and a rearview camera, but most of that is federally mandated now.

What it lacks is any tech to avoid collisions: The Fiesta offers no automatic emergency braking system, blind-spot monitors, or active lane control. Ford’s subcompact is one of few new cars to not offer any of those features.

The NHTSA rates the Fiesta at four stars overall, in part due to a rear door panel that it said struck a crash-test dummy in side-impact testing and could cause thoracic injuries.

Independent testers offer a similarly bleak assessment. While the Fiesta earned “Good” ratings in most of the IIHS’ tests, it scored a “Marginal” rating in the driver-side small-overlap test.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Features

The 2019 Ford Fiesta can be well-equipped, but base models are spartan.

A wide array of trim levels means that there’s a 2019 Ford Fiesta for most budgets. Base Fiestas are inexpensive, but equipped accordingly. We dial a point back for their limited feature set, which puts the lineup at 4 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Fiesta S costs about $15,000 to start, but it’s often discounted. For that money, buyers get a 4.2-inch display for its AM/FM/CD/Bluetooth audio system, air conditioning, and not much else. The Fiesta hatchback costs about $500 more.

For about $1,200 more, the Fiesta SE includes features such as power windows and locks, alloy wheels, and cruise control. It’s also the gateway to niceties such as heated seats, a power moonroof, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. With the infotainment upgrade and heated seats, the Fiesta SE hatchback costs about $18,000—and, again, discounts are common. It’s the trim we’d select.

The Fiesta Titanium adds leather upholstery, Sony speakers, and automatic climate control, but at more than $20,000, its value is dubious.

Available only as a hatchback, the Fiesta ST costs about $22,000, but it has the performance to match. Its available Recaro seats cost a hefty $2,000 and may not fit all physiques, so we recommend trying before buying.

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2019 Ford Fiesta

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Ford Fiesta sips fuel, but some subcompacts are thriftier.

Compared to most new cars, the 2019 Ford Fiesta is a miserly choice. Compared to other subcompacts, it’s surprisingly thirsty.

We rate it at 6 out of 10, basing that figure on the most popular configuration: models with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Those versions are rated by the EPA at 27 mpg city, 37 highway, 31 combined. Opting for the 5-speed manual drops those figures to 27/35/30 mpg.

The Fiesta ST provides a lot of smiles per mile, but it’s a bit of a guzzler for a small car at 26/33/29 mpg.

Some competitors such as the Honda Fit and earn as high as 40 mpg on the highway on the EPA’s test.

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$14,260
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3.7
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 4
Performance 4
Comfort & Quality 2
Safety 2
Features 4
Fuel Economy 6
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2019 Ford Fiesta Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Fiesta arriving; 2018s still on sale
  • $2,500 rebate on 2018s; $1,000 on 2019s
  • Lease a 2018 from $189 for 36 months
  • Get 0% APR for up to 60 months
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