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 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."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Joy on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great traction, good drving, great gas mileage."
Cons: "Low to the ground, but that was to be expected."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This was the best choice for my money. I was looking for gas mileage above all. I travel a lot, which is why in 15 months I put over 52,000 miles on it. I get average of 38-42 per gal. It is all highway driving. This is not the most comfortable vehicle I have owned, but not bad either. It was a good choice for me at the time. Now I need a bit bigger car for work."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By tensortrans on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling and interior."
Cons: "Non unrelated to the size of the car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Fully intending to buy a conventional sedan, this Fiesta caught my eye in the showroom and for once in my life I bought a car on impulse. It turned out to be a good choice. The car is comfortable, fun to drive and reliable through its first 30K miles. The clutch and gearbox are both solid and predictable. I'm averaging 40 mpg with the standard transmission doing about 50% highway miles."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By DJ Wonderbread on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel economy, cheap to maintain, reliable."
Cons: "All in all? None."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought new, drive the horse puckey out of it. It'll be two years old in May, and by then I should have about 46,000 miles on it. It has been absolutely reliable; I switched to a K&N drop in filter at 20k, my lifetime average fuel economy to date is 40.7. I still have 6/32nds tread left, too. The only problem I've had is the right rear shock gave out and leaked its fluid in my driveway at 39k. Bought Monroe's and swapped both out in an hour. (If you do this, it's a 15mm at the bottom, and two 10mm at the top, inside the fender well. All easy access with the wheels removed; no trim to undo inside. Swap out the bump stops to the new shocks, and you're done.) She's fun to drive, and quiet inside at 65mph. No regrets at all."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By dave on Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fuel econ, fun to drive"
Cons: "no center council. l installed my own"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Off the lot with 24 miles, I was concerned the new tech would cause problems. The sync, 6 spd trans and boasted fuel econ were big in 2011, would they hold up? The car is still everything it was when it was new. Coming to this car from a SUV was amazing. 38-42 mpg, same range as the SUV, but half the fuel. ride is also very nice, non fatiguing seats and a pleasure for long hauls!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By lcgal on Thursday, January 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm a college student who just bought this as my first new car a few months ago. So far I absolutely love this car! I get about 36 mpg highway and around 33 in town. The only problem that I've had with this car is one of the drivers side speakers doesn't always work. I grew up driving trucks and never thought I would get used to driving a small four cylinder car but it really has plenty of power and was a very easy adjustment."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful