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2014 Ford Fiesta: Best car $17,500 can buy

Now in its sixth generation and two years away from its 40th birthday, the 2014 Ford Fiesta continues the subcompact car’s enduring legacy.

The Fiesta is manufactured in a dozen countries and is third in sales for Ford, trailing the Escort and F-series trucks.

The current generation Fiesta (Mark VI) was introduced worldwide in 2010, marking the car’s return to North America. More than 16 million Fiesta units have sold since its debut in 1976.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The 2014 Ford Fiesta is available as a four-door sedan and a four-door hatchback. Both are available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. The high-performance ST model is available only as a hatchback.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta has been refreshed and has models, trims.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta has been refreshed and has models, trims. Images © James Raia/2014

My weekly driver was the new for 2014 Fiesta SE with a turbocharged (EcoBoost) 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine. It produces 123 horsepower and is only available with a five-speed manual transmission. The liter-to-horsepower ratio is unique in the auto industry and it makes the Fiesta peppy.

All Fiesta models come standard with 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. Hatchback models also have a rear wiper.

The Fiesta SE includes adds: 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.

In addition to several days of routine city and highway driving, a friend and I drove round-trip from Sacramento to Arnold, the hamlet in Calaveras County entering the Stanislaus National Forest.

The five-hour total drive showcased the Ford Fiesta at its best. For a sub-compact, it had a larger, prouder car’s personality. The steering was responsive, the handling precise and the ride quiet and firm.

The Fiesta’s five-speed manual transmission shifted easily, particularly into reverse, the gear sometimes problematic in other manual shifting systems. The day’s drive took us to an elevation of about 4,000 feet. The Fiesta didn’t climb with authority, but it was far from sluggish.

Considering its sub-compact status, the Ford Fiesta has several small features not standard on appreciably more expensive vehicles. The integrated spotter mirrors on the side mirrors worked well. The Fiesta also has a capless gas tank, front and rear windshield wipers and ambient interior light, including in the cupholder console.

My weekly driver also included a Comfort Package. The worthy $290 addition included heated front seats, a dual-power, heated side mirror and electronic auto temperature control.

Likes:

Impressive gas mileage.

Sporty driving.

Comfortable cabin.

Dislikes:

Manual seat adjustment awkward.

Rear seats snug.

Radio controls not intuitive.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Ford Fiesta

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.9 seconds
Airbags (6):
Fuel economy: 32 mpg (city), 45 mpg (highway), 37 mpg combined, five-speed manual
Horsepower: 123
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $15,450.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.ford.com.
Price As Tested: $17,530.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,0000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Since Ford reintroduced the Fiesta subcompact to the U.S. market in, we have been big fans. Tiny but feisty, the 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.

“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.” — CarConnection.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“There was a time not too long ago when the term ‘entry level car’ or ‘sub-compact’  might as well have read ‘don’t buy it.’ The 2014 Ford Fiesta erases that stigma. It’s an entry-level car, yes, and it’s impressive . . . more so than some cars that cost twice as much. It’s likely the best car on the road $17,500 can buy.”

 

 

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