By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
The 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact is the first American in the sub-compact segment that can actually run in the same circles as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa. The 2012 Ford Fiesta is available as both a 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback (Ford calls it the "Hatch"), and runs the price range from entry-level bare-bones to a nicely-equipped commuter pushing into the $20,000 range. Beyond its slick European good looks, impressive 40-mpg fuel economy, and fun-to-drive factor, the 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact is loaded with features uncommon in this class, including a wide variety of wild interior and exterior color choices, a watered-down version of Ford's popular SYNC audio and communications system, and more interior room that one would expect.
If you're looking for a fuel-efficient small car, but you don't want to sacrifice the interior quality or modern features usually only found on larger, more expensive cars, the 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact is an easy choice.
The 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact sedan and hatchback adds two new interior option packages to the SEL and SES trims, sees a revised Sport Package with more features, and makes integrated side blind-spot mirrors standard on all models.
Driving Impressions Having driven the European Ford Fiesta, we were certain Ford would water down the car's excellent chassis to better suit American drivers. But, to our surprise and...delight, the 2012 Ford Fiesta subcompact remains intact. On the highway, the Fiesta delivers a ride that is both comfortable and controlled, with only mild wind buffeting outside the windows to distract from an otherwise quiet interior. Push the Fiesta through a curving on-ramp or twisting back road and you'll discover a little slice of heaven on four wheels. 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. If there is one drawback to the 2012 Fiesta's playful nature it can be found in the rather anemic 4-cylinder engine. With the 5-speed manual transmission, the driver can keep the rpm high enough to get some decent acceleration on level surfaces, but Fiestas equipped with the dual-clutch automatic lack a manual-control option, meaning you're at the mercy of the transmission computer for your fun.
Ford's voice-controlled SYNC infotainment system continues to grow ever more robust and desirable.
Integrated Blind Spot Mirrors
Standard on the side mirrors of every 2012 Ford Fiesta are small secondary mirrors that find cars hiding in those nebulous areas between peripheral vision and mirror coverage.
If you're looking for a reason to purchase the 2012 Ford Fiesta over its Japanese and Korean competitors, it can be found in the car's interior. Ford has done a masterful job with both the Fiesta's interior styling and execution, offering a number of interior packages, including white/black leather seating, black leather with contrasting piping, and plum leather seating surfaces. Soft-touch surfaces reside where you'd expect and require them to be (armrest, console lid, steering wheel) and high-end options include heated front seats, push-button start and multi-color selectable ambient lighting. Missing from the 2012 Ford Fiesta's option list is navigation, something most of is competitors offer. However, given the affordability of aftermarket units from Garmin, not to mention the widening use of Google Maps via most smart phones, this omission is not a glaring one.
The 2012 Ford Fiesta subcompact can be had in either 4-door sedan form or as a 5-door hatchback - the "Hatch." While the sedan's trunk does offer a bit more security, we think in this segment the Hatch makes much more sense. We applaud Ford for not handicapping entry-level Fiesta models with cheap-looking unpainted parts and ugly wheel covers, an attribute that makes even the least-expensive 2012 Ford Fiesta sub-compact appear upscale. Of course, the more money you're willing to lay down, the fancier the Fiesta becomes. Upper-end trims include such nice details as chrome-bezel surrounds for the LED parking lamps, sporty 17-inch aluminum wheels and a host of bright paint colors. Also worth noting is the Fiesta's capless fuel filler that negates the need for a twist-off fuel cap.
A 2012 Ford Fiesta S sedan includes air conditioning, 4-speaker AM/FM audio system with auxiliary audio input jack, four-way adjustable steering wheel, a 5-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 manual crank windows and not even the option of SYNC or SIRIUS Satellite radio.
A fully-loaded 2012 Ford Fiesta includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, moonroof, keyless entry and start, voice-controlled SYNC smart phone 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 2012 Ford Fiesta's 4-cylinder engine is relatively smooth and strong, but it's more notable for its fuel efficiency than its power. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual and Ford's first dual-clutch automatic transmission. Compared to a traditional automatic, the 6-speed "PowerShift" unit delivers more direct engagement, faster shifts and greater fuel economy. 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.
1.6-liter in-line 4
120 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
112 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/38 (manual), 29/39 (automatic), 29/40 (automatic w/SFE package)
By HRRich on Saturday, April 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "overall cost, fuel mileage, handling, trunk is ok"
Cons: "Small cabin- ok commuter, not a family car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Fiesta is good on gas and handles well for a car in this class. I have had no problems the present mileage of 64,000. I do have the 5 speed. I drive it 180 miles a day at 70-80 mph. Fuel mileage is best at 70-75 and below, where it can get 37-39 MPG."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Trev80 on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,251overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "SYNC is cool"
Cons: "everything else is sub par for the price paid"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"To everyone considering a Ford Fiesta, I don’t rant, I don’t complain and I certainly wouldn’t put down comments like this in places like this if it weren’t an actual concern of mine. I want to help you make this important decision. Please skip to the last 2 paragraphs if you don’t want the whole story, I can be a bit of a story teller. I was a huge Ford follower. My two previous cars were ford (escape and explorer) and I’ve enjoyed their quality vehicles and reputation for years up until a few month after purchasing my Fiesta SE. I was looking to buy a new car because my escape had +180k miles on it and was looking to be up for a major repair soon. Being that I just moved and started a new job, a major repair was the last thing I needed, so I decided to go car shopping. After searching for a decent fuel efficient vehicle for a few weeks (compact was fine, I travel a lot), I settled on a Fiesta SE. The first few months were great, nothing out of the ordinary, I drove a lot so by month 6, I had 11,000 miles on it. About that time I had to make a business trip to Las Vegas. The drive up there was flawless, I enjoyed the USB voice activated music system (Sync) the entire way. The trip back is when my nightmare began. On a routine hill, something any car should be able to handle, the car suddenly lost power. It was as if it didn’t want to shift and simply couldn’t pull the car up the hill. With so many large big rigs flying by at 75 mph, my speed dropping from 75mph to 45 mph within seconds became incredibly dangerous, I ended up having to drive in the breakdown lane till I somehow managed to make it to the top of the hill. Although I was in the middle of nowhere, 45 min out from hoover dam and an hour to Kingman, I spotted a rundown gas station in the distance. I don’t know how, but I managed to coast/accelerate the car just enough to pull it in there and call the Ford emergency repair. They were amazing, polite and did what they could to help me, although it’s promised to get a tow truck to you within an hour, I waited almost 3 hours before the tow truck arrived, reluctantly paying $4 for a coke and $3 for a snickers to help pass the time by. The tow back and the experience at the dealership when I pulled my car in was fine, they did what they should, were courteous and offered to take me to a hotel while they figure out what’s going on, telling me to keep my receipt in the event Ford will reimburse me for hotel costs. The next day I was picked up and returned to the dealership, where I was told the timing belt had snapped, wrapped around the cam shaft and pulled it out enough to where they will need to both replace the camshaft, but also re-time the engine. Estimated duration: 1 week. They put me in a rental car and sent me on my merry way. One week later, while dealing with a regional manager, I was finally contacted and told they found additional problems and will need another week to fix it. My car had 11,454 miles on it, I had just had a “The Works” package done on it two weeks prior to this, I had to pay $55 for the rental car tax, never was offered reimbursement for the hotel, told I wouldn’t get it and paid $40 for the gas of having to drive 4.5 hour back to the dealership to pick up my car. Although Ford honored their contractual obligation to fix the problem, I now drive a car that has less than 13k miles on it and has had major repairs done to the engine. Maybe it was fluke, maybe it was bad luck but the car runs worse than before. You know that moment when you’re making a left and you time it just right to make the turn, hit the gas and, nothing for 3 seconds, it’s quite the experience. Literally watching the cars rapidly approaching while my car decides to accelerate. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. DON’T BUY THIS CAR. There are better options out there. I received a courtesy call to be sure the car was still running, but all communication with the manager, my local dealership and everyone else involved ceased immediately. For those interested, Arizona Lemon states that a car has to be out of commission for 30 days or 4 attempts have to be made to fix the same problem. Any mechanic can make a car work in that time frame, so the law is utter non sense."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mely on Thursday, March 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "No pros honestly"
Cons: "Where should I start? Seriously walk way."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I liked the price, and that it was good on Gas, but other than that I have had nothing but trouble with it. The 2013 Fiestas aren't at all what they are making it seem. It makes horrible noises. I have taken it in about 12 times back to the dealer. Ford claims their is nothing wrong. Wait until you hit more than 15miles on it and its all down hill from there. Don't buy one and save yourself the trouble."
By ranbo on Monday, March 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "good on gas"
Cons: "loud trans shifts"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Trans noise after about 3000 miles. Ford would do nothing about it. The Ford service rep.never called back after we talked"
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By stever123 on Saturday, March 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, nice to handle, decent power"
Cons: "small car, rides low"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"If you are looking for a luxury automobile, this is not the car for you. But if you are looking for basic transportation that is fun to drive and get excellent gas mileage then this IS the car for you."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Mel on Thursday, March 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage"
Cons: "Problematic, left me stuck unable to put in gear"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Never again will I buy a Ford. The car won't go into drive or reverse unless it warms up for at least 15 minutes. Very jerky ride. Had to pay $1400 to fix it after 3 years. Too many problems. I wanted a car that was good with gas and reliable for my 16 year old son and ended up with a lemon."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful