By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
Despite its starting price of around $15,000, the new 2017 Ford Fiesta brings good looks, a fun driving experience and robust technology to a once-dreary subcompact market. The Fiesta is Ford's smallest and least expensive car but its expansive lineup includes four trim levels (S, SE, Titanium and ST), and two body styles (a 4-door sedan or versatile 5-door hatchback), which expand its appeal against rivals like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Chevy Sonic. Fuel economy is exceptional. The 2017 Fiesta can achieve up to 43 mpg on the highway with its turbocharged 3-cylinder engine. A favorite of performance buyers is the hopped-up Fiesta ST that packs a turbocharged engine boasting nearly 200 horsepower and a suspension ready for a canyon road.
If you want a little fun, style and infotainment tech in your fuel-efficient and inexpensive subcompact, the 2017 Ford Fiesta will make you smile. Driving enthusiasts on a budget should go directly to the well-engineered 197-horsepower Ford Fiesta ST, as it’s among the few performance-oriented subcompacts available.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 Ford Fiesta remains essentially unchanged for the new year, aside from new colors including a sexy shade called Orange Spice Metallic Tri-Coat exclusively available on the performance-oriented Fiesta ST.
Comfortable and controlled, the 2017 Ford Fiesta is one of the more fun cars to drive in the subcompact class. Push the Fiesta on a curved onramp or sweeping road,...
... and it responds with surprising balance, communication and grip. The steering is precise and its overall performance will impress you. This is a small car that likes to be driven. 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 and the only Fiesta equipped with 17-inch wheels and 4-wheel disc brakes. A 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which can feel awkward at times, is available on the standard engine, while the 3-cylinder and the ST come only with likable manuals, 5- and 6-speeds, respectively.
Ford consistently improves its Sync infotainment system and the 2017 Fiesta is equipped with the latest and greatest version. It’s not only easier to operate, it has a large 6.5-inch touch screen. It’s much better than the version it replaced, which was marred by too-small alphanumerics and latent response.
The Fiesta offers two different smooth and eager turbocharged engines: a 123-horsepower 3-cylinder designed for maximum fuel economy, and a 197-horsepower 4-cylinder designed for maximum fun. Both deliver exceptional performance and fuel economy, but as is usual with turbocharged engines, lead-footed driving can run up fuel consumption.
As a sedan or hatchback, the 2017 Ford Fiesta seats five; however, rear-seat legroom is a bit cramped even for a subcompact. Cargo volume is generous. All sedans have 60/40-folding rear seats for larger items, and the hatchback offers over 25 cubic feet of space with its rear seats folded. Lower-trim models are Spartan with basic but easy-to-use controls. Comfort is high and the materials feel good to the touch. It’s also nicely put together. There’s an overall feeling of quality. If you're willing to spend, things can get fancy with leather seats, ambient lighting and push-button start.
In a world where “affordable-subcompact” too often means “dowdy and unattractive,” the 2017 Ford Fiesta wears a stylish and distinctive suit. Attractive and modern as a 4-door sedan or more practical 5-door hatchback, the new Fiesta never turns heads for the wrong reasons. In addition to swallowing more cargo, the hatchback is particularly attractive, offering better proportions and a sportier physique. The Fiesta ST is endowed with more aggressive style befitting its high-performance intentions, including larger wheels and tires, a deeper front spoiler, ST badging and two chrome exhaust pipes right out of your hot-rodding high school dreams.
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 2017 Fiesta include the Sync infotainment system, which now includes a larger 6.5-inch touch screen with smartphone gestures like swipe and pinch to zoom, navigation, power moonroof, heated front seats, satellite radio, and an automatic transmission. The potent Fiesta ST hatchback can be made racier with hood stripes and race-car-ready, height-adjustable Recaro seats with cool leather and cloth upholstery. Strangely no automatic transmission is available on the ST. The SE EcoBoost Fuel Economy Package adds the turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, aerodynamic enhancements and special tires to maximize fuel efficiency.
Three engines are available in the 2017 Ford Fiesta. The standard powerplant, and the best choice for the majority of buyers, is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower. It’s available with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission and delivers impressive fuel economy. For the extreme 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 including a hybrid-like 43 mpg on the highway. If saving gasoline is less of a concern and you just want to have more fun, a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder 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
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Ford Fiesta S sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at about $15,000 with a manual transmission. Unless the lowest price is of highest concern, we recommend at least stepping up to the mid-trim Fiesta SE, which begins around $16,000. A top-line Fiesta Titanium costs right around $20,000. Opting for the hatchback version of any of these three trims is about $300 more. The hatchback-only Fiesta ST begins at $22,500. Stuff a 2017 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.