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 Rob on Friday, September 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage"
Cons: "major transmission flaw, not good investment!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am the original owner of a white, 2012 Fiesta SFE, 6-speed auto, with heated seats, mirrors, block. It does get 40-45 hwy mpg when empty, but not if you are climbing hills or have passengers and cargo (28-34 hwy mpg). My biggest problem is I have had transmission problems for about 24 of the 30 months of ownership. They replaced the transmission once(took 3 weeks). The main problem is when the car is in drive and you step on the gas, the transmission slips or doesn't engage. Not good when crossing intersections and it leaves you stranded facing oncoming traffic! Now Ford sent me a free extended warranty up to 7 years or 100,00 miles because of their poor craftsmanship on the 6 speed transmission. But I don't think this is worth keeping it. My plans are to get rid of this car soon! Here is a quick breakdown of the problems with this car ranking from high to low. 1. Transmission doesn't work (slipping or not engaging gears) 2. Cheap paint job...the paint is flaking and chipping off all over (this car is also stored in garage) 3. Door seals don't stay on 4. Brakes squeal all the time since it was new."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Jim on Thursday, September 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Far more comfortable we thought it would be"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"First the good: I bought it in 2011 to use as a commuter car. Before driving 1000 miles to my inlaws for Thanksgiving that year, our Volvo was acting up. We were going to rent a "comfortable" car, but my partner convinced me to take the Fiesta although taking a "cheap econo-box" was not my idea of fun. We had only driven it around town and feared it would be rough, uncomfortable, etc. Instead, we were both genuinely surprised at how comfortable it was on such a long road trip. The gas mileage was fantastic (which we already knew) and keeping up with 90 mph traffic on West Texas was a breeze (the speed limit on the interstates is 85). From then on, it became the go-to car for long trips. Now the bad: Last December, it turned 50K miles. Since then, I've replaced the electric driver window motor ($450), the transmission and transaxle (under warranty, but because we were on vacation when it happened, I'm still out of pocket $600 in other expenses because of it, not to mention the extra trip back to pick up the car and time off work), a valve in the fuel filler line that prevented me from putting gas in the tank ($400), and now the electric fan motor that cools the engine ($700). Add that up, and I'm out over $2000 injust nine months. The bloom is off the rose. I'm getting rid of this car as soon as I can. This has been the most unreliable car I've ever owned, with the *possible* exception of a 1974 AMC Hornet I had in college -- and even then I don't recall four expensive repairs in less than a year. Needless to say I'm done with Ford."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By nik on Sunday, September 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage,"
Cons: "change your oil light will not go off"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
""I bought this car used in Feb of 2012. I love it! I think it's a GREAT car choice for the price. I feel completely comfortable and safe, especially driving in cities such as Monroe and Shreveport. It's not a large/long car so it makes parking a BREEZE. The Fiesta's turning is exceptional and she offers great headlight coverage. I love this car and would totally recommend it to someone.""
14 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Liz Sykora on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "European handling, Excellent MPG, Miles of Smiles"
Cons: "Seats a bit narrow."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"There is no denying early Fiesta owners have experienced automatic transmission problems. This issue is resolved. Ford has a new automatic clutch designated (E) with better seals and updated software. Ford has not abandoned those owners & is extending warranty to 7 years 100K miles on 2011 through 2014 Fiesta's. Here is an easy fix for those 11 through 14 Fiesta owners with electrical gremlins. The negative ground of the battery connects to a painted bracket on the strut tower. Sand off the paint on bracket for a much improved electrical ground connection and reattach the ground adding a bit of dielectric grease to prevent corrosion. This will make a much better surface for high electric current to flow & resolve any weird electrical glitches. It was an assembly line oversight. This sub compact car is fun to drive with excellent 39 mpg highway 36 city. It handles very well and corners superbly. Very quiet inside with European styling out. As compared to those from Asia, Fiesta offers greater number of options at a very reasonable price. A/C is standard on all Fiesta's. I have never found any automobile that was 100% flaw free. Human beings design & produce automobiles. Also consider the reputation of a dealership and their willingness to stand behind a product they sell. If you live in an area where service is 500 miles away, would you purchase that product? Ford will be in business for years to come and a reputable dealer will want your repeat business. We traded a 10 year old Subaru. A New Subaru was knocked out early as the sheet metal is very thin and can be dented just waxing the car. So, it came down to either a Honda Fit or the Ford Fiesta. Ford won hands down. It road better, was much quieter, handled better, with better gas mileage. My other vehicle BTW is a Honda Odyssey. I am a Honda fan, but the Fiesta was a much better buy, with a local dealer who was willing to negotiate and wanted my business. I actually bought my Honda Odyssey used from the same salesman at the ford dealer years ago. We also had considered a Mazda 3, but the local dealership has a most negative reputation and the next nearest Mazda dealership is 250 miles away. There is so much to consider in a new car purchase. The Fiesta is a best buy."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By byran on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "STYLE & MPG"
Cons: "6 SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"6 SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION DIFFICULT TO GET USED TO or OPERATE even AFTER 3 YEARS. GREAT SHAPE, AWESOME MPG, but NOT FUN TO DRIVE IN THE CITY or IN THE WINTER."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
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!"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful