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 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."
5 people out of 8 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."
4 people out of 6 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 9 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