Now 38 years old and a half-dozen generations into its tenure, the Ford Fiesta joins its siblings, the Ford Escort and F-Series trucks, to complete the trio of the manufacturer’s top-selling vehicles.

Since its debut in 1976, more than 16 million Fiestas have sold for several simple reasons. As the third best-selling car in the Ford lineup, the little car provides solid transportation, strong gas mileage and dependability, and at an economical price.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

Available in four trim levels and as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback, the Ford Fiesta is a surprisingly peppy sub-compact. My test vehicle for the week was the four-door SE sedan.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta has an interior and exterior makeover.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta received an interior and exterior makeover. Images © James Raia/2013

It was equipped with a 1.6-liter, 120 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The standard base model equipment list is impressive: 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, power locks and mirrors, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, various Ford Sync functions (iPod/USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, voice controls, some app-based services and certain safety communications functions), an auxiliary audio jack and, for hatchback models, a rear wiper.

Adds to the Fiesta SE include: keyless entry, power windows, exterior mirrors with side marker lamps, cruise control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a trip computer, 15-inch painted aluminum wheels, metallic interior trim, a front center console with armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and ambient lighting.

The Ford Fiesta for 2014 isn’t a redesign, but its makeover for the new model year includes higher quality interior materials and a more refined exterior. The result: The Ford Fiesta may be a sub-compact, but that doesn’t translate into cheaply made or an entry-level car with not much to offer.

On the contrary, the Fiesta, in city and highway driving scenarios, holds its own. It’s not a sports car, but it’s surprisingly sporty. It’s not a family cruising sedan, but it’s comfortable and roomy for its class. It’s not a small SUV or a crossover of any kind. But the sedan offers easy access to a cargo area that while not as big as the cargo space offered by competitors, like the Honda Fit, holds plenty of groceries.

The new Fiesta is an ideal first car for buyers on a budget. But it’s ideal, too, for any smart shopper seeking basic transportation with a little edge.

Likes:

Interior quality impressive.

Comfortable seats.

Nimble, responsive handling.

Ample headroom and legroom.

Dislikes:

Cargo space isn’t great.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Ford Fiesta

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.4 seconds.
Airbags: (5)
Fuel economy: 27 mpg (city), 38 mpg (highway), five-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 120
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $16,050.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.ford.com.
Price As Tested: Unavailable.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Tiny but feisty, the Ford Fiesta has an overall goodness that’s disproportionate to its size, with a vast talent set that includes slick styling (freshened for 2014), snappy handling and a high level of refinement inside.” — Edmunds.

“The 2014 Ford Fiesta may be the only American sub-compact that can truly stand up to the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. Slick Eurostyle looks, outstanding fuel economy and true fun-to-drive chassis tuning do the trick.” — Kelley Blue Book.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“For the price, the Ford Fiesta has a lot to offer — economy, value and a surprisingly peppy performance. You get what you pay for with the Fiesta and that’s a good thing.”

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