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 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!"
2 people out of 3 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!"
9 people out of 15 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."
14 people out of 24 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