2011 Ford Fiesta SES

Don Sherman Jeffrey Jablansky
Matt Tierney

Ford's Fiesta is a fantastic driver, with excellent composure, a comfortable ride, and satisfying handling in an economical package. It's not fast, but neither is the competition. The Fiesta's selling point -- for passionate drivers and not social media lemmings -- is its chassis. The ride quality is as good as that in many larger cars, and it's agile enough to invite you to throw it into a turn at a decent clip.

As good as the Fiesta is, there's still plenty of room for improvement. The five-speed manual is too light and flaccid to be engaging, and second gear seems a touch too tall. Adding a sixth gear would allow for sprightlier sprints by closing up some of the lower ratios. I find the Americanized exterior to be a bit fussy compared to the European car, but the Fiesta is still the hands-down style leader in the subcompact segment -- and by a large margin. Unfortunately, the Fiesta may also be the segment laggard when it comes to interior room. Both for cargo and people, there's a serious shortage of space behind the front seats.

Ford's Sync is packed with features, and many of these luxuries are hard to find in the subcompact segment. That said, the user experience in the Fiesta is flawed by several nuisances that detract from the core capabilities. There's an "aux" button on the center stack, but it only accesses the USB and auxiliary input. Using Bluetooth audio streaming requires navigating a maze of menus so convoluted that I still struggled to locate the right screen on my fourth time in the car. The steering wheel audio controls lack a volume adjustment, and the voice activation buttons is clumsily located on a the turn signal stalk. The preset buttons are so closely placed and strangely shaped that they can be difficult to press. There's a massive spatial distance between the "soft keys" and the screen that tells you what function those buttons perform and the five-way controller is awkward to actuate.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

This premium subcompact needs to come down in price.
Why would I buy this when I can get much more for almost the same with a base model Hyundai Sonata?With the Sonata, you get 4 wheel disc brakes, 100% more space and 67% more hp while only losing 10% in fuel economy based-on Sonata drivers' observed average 30mpg on the EPA website (fueleconomy.gov). And that's still on regular fuel. All that while paying only 11% more?!The Hyundai Sonata seems like the better call.

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