The Fiesta is a subcompact car that’s actually worth driving. Subcompacts have always been great for budget buyers, but in this class you rarely find the dynamic prowess exhibited by cars in the next segment (or two) up the ladder. Introduced a year ago as an all-new model, the Fiesta has a suspension calibration that is essentially unchanged from what is offered in the European version, meaning that the car exhibits excellent body control and handling. The Fiesta’s dynamic personality also comes through in its distinctive styling. The Fiesta is available in sedan and hatchback versions, both of which are powered by an aluminum 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque and is connected to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The latter is more fuel efficient but only marginally so. An optional SFE fuel-economy package (revised engine tuning, transmission calibration, and low-rolling-resistance tires) gets you to 40 mpg on the highway. The Fiesta is offered with several features that aren’t generally found on subcompacts, including the hands-free Sync, push-button start, and heated, leather-trimmed seats. The driver can also choose from seven colors for the interior ambient lighting. The Fiesta can’t come close to matching the Honda Fit or even the Nissan Versa in terms of space for people and cargo; instead, the Fiesta sells on its driving dynamics and its styling.

Drive: Front-wheel
Trim Levels: S, SE, SES, SEL
Body Styles: Sedan, hatchback 5-passenger
Engine: 1.6L I-4 120 hp, 112 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Passenger Volume: 85.1 cu ft
Cargo Space: (sedan) 12.8 cu ft, (hatchback, rear seats up/down) 15.4/26.0 cu ft

The Fiesta was all new for 2011, so changes for 2012 are mostly cosmetic. There are two new appearance packages for the SEL sedan and the SES hatchback, with two-tone leather-trimmed seats and coordinating door panel inserts, steering wheel, and instrument panel trim. There is also a premium sport appearance option on the SES hatchback. Integrated blind-spot mirrors are now standard, as is a center armrest for the driver.

Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and stability control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and integrated blind-spot mirrors.

All: 29 mpg city/38-40 mpg highway

  • Sporty driving dynamics
  • Well-finished interior
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Limited Cargo Space
  • Only one engine

A small car that’s fun to drive.

  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Honda Fit
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Nissan Versa

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