By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.9
The Fiesta is Ford's smallest and least expensive car, a subcompact that competes with rivals like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic. Despite its entry-level status and sub-$16,000 starting price, the Fiesta brings efficiency, good looks and robust technology to the table. In addition to the sedan, a 5-door hatchback version increases the Fiesta's cargo flexibility, while the hopped-up Fiesta ST packs a surprising punch thanks to a turbocharged engine boasting nearly 200 horsepower. If fuel economy is of higher concern, the 2016 Fiesta can achieve up to 43 mpg with an optional turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. The Fiesta is due for a refresh soon, but even five years into its current generation, this small sedan and hatchback offer much to like.
If you're looking for an inexpensive yet stylish, functional and fuel-efficient subcompact from a domestic automaker, the Ford Fiesta checks all the right boxes. The 2016 Ford Fiesta ST, meanwhile, is among the few and proud performance-oriented subcompacts.
If maximum cargo space and higher resale value are greater priorities, you may be more interested in the Honda Fit. If value pricing and a long warranty are what you're seeking, check out the Kia Rio, which starts under $15,000 and offers 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
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The big news for the 2016 Ford Fiesta is the availability of Sync 3. This makes the Fiesta among the first of Ford's vehicles to receive the latest – and much better – touch-based infotainment system. Remote keyless entry becomes standard; ditto, a perimeter alarm and two USB charging ports.
Automakers often soften their European-based cars for the U.S. market, but thankfully that isn't the case for the Fiesta. The result is a car that, despite its small size, is...
... comfortable and controlled. The bonus is, when you push the Fiesta on that curved onramp or sweeping road, it responds with surprising balance, communication and grip. And if you like that sort of thing, you'll respond with a smile. Of the three powerplants offered, the standard 120-horsepower 4-cylinder is adequate. The newer turbocharged 3-cylinder is an efficiency champ that also grants surprisingly smooth power delivery. Then there's the performance-oriented Fiesta ST. With 197 horsepower and sport-tuned suspension and steering, it's the clear athlete of the group. A 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is available on the standard engine, while the 3-cylinder and the ST come only with manuals, 5- and 6-speeds, respectively.
The 2016 Fiesta is among the first Fords to get the latest and greatest version of the Sync infotainment system. It’s much better than the outgoing one. Where that previous system was marred by too-small alphanumerics and latent response, Sync 3 and its 6.5-inch touch screen are faster and easier to operate.
The Fiesta offers two different turbocharged engines: a 3-cylinder designed for maximum fuel economy, and a 4-cylinder designed for maximum fun. But as is usual with turbochargers, lead-footed real-world driving can run up fuel consumption.
As either a sedan or hatchback, the 2016 Ford Fiesta offers seating for five. It should come as no surprise, however, that rear-seat legroom is cramped in this subcompact. With over 25 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded, the Fiesta hatchback is impressively roomy. All sedans also have 60/40-folding rear seats to accommodate larger items. Lower-trim models are rather Spartan affairs with basic but easy-to-use controls. If you're willing to spend more, you can be treated to white-on-black leather seats, contrasting seat piping, ambient lighting and push-button start.
As either a traditional 4-door sedan or a practical 5-door hatchback, the 2016 Ford Fiesta wears a stylish and distinctive suit. In addition to swallowing more cargo, the hatchback offers better proportions, at least to our eyes. The Fiesta ST is endowed with more aggressive style befitting its performance nature. The hatchback is positioned as the primary model, yet across the board you'll be hard-pressed to find cheap-looking trim. In addition to bright colors across all but the base S trim level, new for 2016 is the SE Black Package with darkened wheels, exterior mirror housings and other treatments.
Even in its least expensive form as the Fiesta S sedan, Ford's small economy car includes air conditioning, 4-speaker AM/FM radio with auxiliary input, Sync AppLink that works with smartphones, dual USB inputs and keyless entry. You will, however, still have to crank your own windows. SE models add cruise control, power windows and the MyKey system that lets you set driving parameters, such as limiting top speed – a good idea for households with younger drivers. Top-line Titanium trims include rearview camera with reverse-sensing system, Sony premium audio, leather seating (heated in front), automatic climate control and the latest Sync system.
Popular options for the 2016 Fiesta include the Sync infotainment system, navigation, power moonroof, heated front seats, satellite radio where available, and automatic transmission. The potent Fiesta ST hatchback can be made racier with hood stripes and Recaro seats. Wheels ranging up to 17 inches are also available. The Fuel Economy Package on SE models adds the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine for better fuel efficiency.
Three engines are available for the 2016 Ford Fiesta. The standard powerplant, and the one that will be the best choice for the majority of buyers, is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower and offers a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. For the fuel-sipping crowd, there's a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbo with a 5-speed manual transmission. It puts out more horsepower and torque than the standard engine yet achieves considerably better fuel economy. If saving gasoline is the least of your concerns, a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and 6-speed manual gearbox await you in the 197-horsepower Fiesta ST. All Fiestas are front-wheel drive (FWD).
120 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
112 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/36 mpg (manual), 27/37 mpg (automatic), 28/38 mpg (automatic with SFE fuel-saving package)
1.0-liter turbocharged inline-3
123 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 mpg
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
197 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
202 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg
The 2016 Ford Fiesta S sedan – the least expensive model – has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $15,455. Unless the lowest price is of highest concern, we recommend at least stepping up to the mid-trim Fiesta SE, which begins at a still-reasonable $16,685. A top-line Fiesta Titanium bows at $19,405. Opting for the hatchback version of any of these three trims is $300 more. The hatchback-only Fiesta ST begins at $22,335. Stuff a 2016 Fiesta with options, and you're looking at a low- to mid-$20,000 subcompact. This is in line with competitors such as the Chevrolet Sonic and Honda Fit. Undercutting the Fiesta's starting price are the Nissan Versa Note, Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage. Before buying, check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Fiesta's residual value has traditionally been about average, but lagged the leading Honda Fit.