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 Green Machine on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG, fun, perfect color, no machanical problems"
Cons: "have not found any "cons""
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car and want to trade in for the exact car in the new year! It gets the best MPG for any non-hybrid I know of. 40-45 on the road and 38-40 around town! Great little car!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By JenniferB on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, realiable, great of gas"
Cons: "Leg room for passengers in backseat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has treated me very well! Im averaging 41 MPG! Its cute, reliable, Ive had no issues! The only compliant I have is the back seat. Its not roomy for passengers! But other then that great car, great value!"
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By RC on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cheap, awesome to drive"
Cons: "There's no knob to tune the radio"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Good amount of power. It's surprisingly comfortable for such a small car, I've driven it from Detroit, MI to Lincoln, NE and the seats are great (I don't have the Recaro's). It's a fun go-cart-y car and puts a smile on my face daily. I drive fairly "spiritedly" and I'm averaging over 32 mpg. What else is there to say."
13 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Sd on Thursday, August 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cute, good gas mileage"
Cons: "Not all that comfy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"It is a good little car, but it IS little and low to the ground. The seats have very little padding, if any, so comfort becomes a factor for someone who commutes one hour one way like me."
3 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Oodie on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice to look at"
Cons: "Horrible transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The transmission in our Ford Fiesta has had multiple issues and still makes lots of noise and is jerky. Ford tells us that this transmission comes with some noise but the noises get worse as does the responses of shifting and accelerating. The latest issue is with the AUX button on the sound system which doesn't work anymore, and a scraping.noise when turning the wheel. We are scheduled yet again to have these things fixed but can't get in to the dealer service department until Aug. 11th......today is July 11th.....as they are completely booked due to other Ford recalls. We feel frustrated and stuck with this very poorly made vehicle because we would never in good conscience sell it to anyone and are pretty sure no one who drove it and heard it would want it. We will NEVER give Ford our business again. Beware of the Ford Fiesta......we are not the only ones having these issues."
17 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By tensort on Saturday, July 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, gas mileage and manual transmission."
Cons: "None yet - ask me in another 5 years."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"After 40 years of practical car shopping, I bought this used 2011 Fiesta on a whim. It looked sharp in the showroom, had all the bells and whistles and, most important to me, a manual tranny. Two years and 30K miles later I'm still really happy with the car! If I can get 150K with no serious maintenance, I'll consider this one of my best cars ever. The clutch and tranny feel just right - not quite snick-snack shifting but darn close. First gear could be a little longer, but after a quick shift into second the revs match up well with my needs. Available torque is impressive for the 1.6L, and the set up is perfect at highway speeds - no need to plan ahead or downshift for passes and lane changes. Handling is a strong point; the best I've had by far after a long line of typical sedans. Quick, nimble and predictable. Wonderful in the snow and with plenty of ground clearance, great for New England ski trips regardless of the weather. Gas mileage is a solid 41 mpg over the full two years. About 50-50 highway-city with just myself in the car. I'm recommending this car to all who ask me and will likely buy another in the future."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful