By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
Have you heard the story about the domestic auto industry that kept claiming its products were as good as Japan's best? It's a twist on the tale of the boy who cried wolf. In Aesop's original, nobody believes the boy when things really do go bad. In our update, people are skeptical when things really do go good. That's the battle Ford faces in selling America on the most impressive, most recommendable, most buyable lineup a domestic automaker has offered in many drivers' lifetimes. Do we think the 2011 Ford Fiesta is as good as Japan's best in the category (the Honda Fit)? It's better. And if you don't believe us, blame the past practices of the domestic auto industry.
If you're searching the sub-compact segment for style, interior quality, driving dynamics and/or fuel efficiency, just put the 2011 Ford Fiesta at the top of your list and then try to beat it.
Two things everyone knows: (1) America can't make good small cars and (2) Americans don't like small cars. The 2011 Ford Fiesta is good enough to change both perception and reality.
Driving Impressions Many months before we drove the first U.S.-spec Fiesta, Ford gave us a week behind the wheel of the European version. Some of us were impressed, others blown away, and...everyone shared the same sentiment: "I hope they don't ruin the U.S. version." Hallelujah, they didn't. The Fiesta is comfortable and quiet on the highway, fun when you work the wheel and just feels pricier and more substantial – more European, really – than any of its competitors. Shortcomings? The fun part requires a little planning because there's not a lot of juice available at the bottom of the rev range, we think the dual-clutch auto deserves a manual control option, and some of us have reservations about long-haul seat comfort. But when you're talking about the best car in the class, that's really just nitpicking.
Ford's voice-controlled SYNC infotainment system continues to grow ever more robust and desirable.
Integrated Blind Spot Mirrors
In the upper, outside corner of the 2011 Ford Fiesta's side mirrors is a small secondary mirror that finds cars hiding in that nebulous area between peripheral vision and mirror coverage.
The 2011 Ford Fiesta boasts not only the sharpest sheetmetal in the category, it also has the most stylish and refined interior. Soft-touch materials and top-notch design permeate all trims, and you can outfit the Fiesta with features like heated leather seats, push-button start and selectable seven-color ambient lighting. A navigation system is the only glaring omission from the Fiesta's options list and instrument panel, but a four-inch multifunction LCD display carries some of that load.Exterior
The 2011 Ford Fiesta is available in two styles: four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. We're partial to the hatchback, which is the only style offered in Europe, but America still prefers sedans. Kudos to Ford for not crippling entry-priced Fiesta models with black bumpers and door handles and such; the 15-inch covered steel wheels are about as cheap as it gets, and the covers are decent. Still, the more you pay the better you look, and loaded models feature things like chrome-bezeled LED parking lamps and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Every 2011 Ford Fiesta comes with Ford's cool capless fuel filler.
A 2011 Ford Fiesta S Sedan starts just under $14,000 and includes air conditioning, four-speaker AM/FM audio system with auxiliary audio input jack, four-way adjustable steering wheel, a five-speed manual transmission and the same fun suspension and powertrain found in every Fiesta. It also gets all the safety goodies, like electronic stability control and seven airbags – including the category's first driver's-side knee airbag. Base model shortcomings include 15-inch covered steel wheels, roll-'em-up windows and not even the option of SYNC or SIRIUS.
A fully loaded 2011 Ford Fiesta includes a six-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, moonroof, keyless entry and start, voice-controlled SYNC smartphone integration, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, heated seats, satellite radio and a trip computer. Step back five or 10 years, read that list again, and try to imagine the price – and badge – on such a car.
The 2011 Ford Fiesta's four-cylinder engine is relatively smooth and strong, but it's more notable for its fuel efficiency than its power. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and Ford's first dual-clutch automatic transmission. Compared to a traditional automatic, the six-speed "PowerShift" unit delivers more direct engagement, faster shifts and greater fuel economy. We're not big fans of electric power steering systems, which generally deliver better fuel economy at the expense of driving feel, but the Fiesta's qualifies as one of the less compromised units. To attain Ford's much-hyped 40 mpg highway fuel economy rating, you have to pay for the Super Fuel Economy (SFE) Package, which makes the car a bit more aerodynamic, a tad lighter and probably compromises handling to some degree, thanks to special mileage-maxing tires.
120 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
112 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/38 (manual), 30/38 (auto), 30/40 (auto w/SFE package),
By Deb on Thursday, November 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well, fun to drive."
Cons: "No complaints except gas mileage so-so."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The car is fun to drive. The gas mileage has never been as good as the rating posted. I am a small female, and it is a good fit for me. Though a sub-compact, it is adequate for my husband and me on short trips. It is a bit tight for big people."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By JimD on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fantastic mileage"
Cons: "grease the door to get into the back seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I am happy with my car - I have a stick shift se model and have had no problems with it the 2 years I've owned it. I don't recommend buying this car if you want an automatic transmission based on all the review horror stories I've read. The car handles great in snow and gets 35mpg average buzzing around town and 45 on the highway. For a cheap sticker price of 16k it's been a great buy for me coming nicely loaded with power options, satellite radio/cd, sunroof and led color changing interior lights. What it doesn't have is cruise control. Stock tires only lasted 30k miles."
14 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Megg1088 on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car in January of 2011 and have just needed my first true repairs this year (September 2014). After getting new brakes and tires it is running like new! It is very low maintenance, dependable, stylish and the Bluetooth SYNC makes it tech savvy! I love my little car and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good value."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Smalls on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,800overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage when it runs"
Cons: "everything other than the gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I would advise against this vehicle. I do not like what Ford did with the interior, for one. Additionally, I have already had a major breakdown at 6500 miles (yes, I sai 6400). Not only that, the artery died less than 24 months of use. This is truly a terrible car."
8 people out of 25 found this review helpful
By Greg on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, gas millage, fun factor, Recaro seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The is the best value I found when looking for a sports car! It has great styling, very smooth 6 speed manual transmission, and corners like it is on rails. It gets 35 MPG commuting to work and 32 overall."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Bob on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "small, maneuverable, reliable, great gas milage"
Cons: "small, SYNC doesn't work very well"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a 2011 Fiesta SE Hatchback with a 5 speed manual transmission. I absolutely love it. It's small and maneuverable, has great gas mileage, and a lot of cargo room considering it's such a small car. I've got 100,000 miles on it, and the only thing I've done is replace the breaks (at 80,000 miles!) and the shocks (right at 100,000 miles). I'm surprised to see the comments about reliability, but they mostly seem to come from the automatic transmission, which I would never have considered buying. I need to replace the AC compressor, which is making noise but still works. My main complaint is with the Voice-Activated SYNC stereo, which is showing its age when compared to SIRI on my iPhone, though I was never very impressed with it. I will probably replace the stereo with a 2DIN car-play/android stereo once I find a good aftermarket 2DIN kit for this car. I really wish they could have gone with a more standard dashboard arrangement for the stereo."
11 people out of 15 found this review helpful