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 Brian on Thursday, March 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "handles like a go-cart, tires wear perfectly even."
Cons: "sound system flaw."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Commute 150 miles a day, 95% highway with lots of 5-7 percent grade hills. I run on cruise control almost always at 70 miles per hour. I get 38.5 mpg on winter blend and 41.5 on summer blend. replaced tires at 50000, and change oil at 10000, using mobil 1 full synth. Not a single flaw except a buzzing noise in front speakers. dealer replaced right speaker to no avail. suspect problem is electronic inside radio. just enough power to keep up with highway traffic in mountains if I pace myself properly and plan ahead for changing traffic situations."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Adria on Monday, March 16, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Frequent repairs needed
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This car spent a lot of time in the shop. Broken speaker at 30,000 another broken speaker at 32,000, broken A/C at 37,000 ($700.00), transmission problems at 37,000 and 41,000, broken door latch at 41,000 ($500.00). The repairs and the costs just kept adding up."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tony on Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "good mileage"
Cons: "very bad in snow and confort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"i purchased this car used with 3300, i already had to replace transmission at 45000 miles. very bad in snow. other than the mileage i would not buy this car again. Very poor quality over all."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By M-squared on Thursday, February 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "excellent gas milage"
Cons: "cup holders are not big enough"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"purchased new in June 2011. Average daily driver 37.9 mpg. Highway only 41.5 mpg. No maintenance problems. I use full synthetic oil. Black paint and black interior is not a good combination in the summer."
23 people out of 43 found this review helpful
By wintrymix on Thursday, February 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price, mileage and handles well"
Cons: "Heater and defrost blower motor freezes up in cold"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"With 4 studded snow tires, this car handles well on the wintry roads. The mileage is great, as marketed, and the winter package & heated seats work great. HOWEVER, for a different reason, I would not recommend this car for places with snowy and cold weather. There is a definite problem with the design and layout of the defrost/heat blower motor. The blower motor freezes up when it is most needed. We had it to the dealer for service and they are aware of the problem and advised to keep the vent near the windshield free of snow. They also advised opening the hood and making sure there is not snow or ice collected below the air intake vent below the windshield on the driver’s side. This past week, there was no snow and no ice and the blower motor still froze. This does not help when the car is needed for transportation to work with an outside temperature of zero."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Buzz on Thursday, January 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy on gas and decent ride"
Cons: "Auto transmission is jerky."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this car as a commuter car, I don't belong to a car pool so I needed a thrifty car to get to work daily. Aside from regular maintenance I have not had this car in the shop in the first 100K miles. For a small gas efficient car it has performed as I expected and I am very happy with it."
33 people out of 54 found this review helpful