MPG-o-Matic 2011 Ford Fiesta Review Summary: The Ford Fiesta is a game-changing front-wheel drive (FWD) subcompact. Available as both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback, the Fiesta goes to battle with the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa and emerges victoriously. Simply put, the Fiesta sets the standard for fit, finish, ride, and handling in its class. Despite the car’s diminutive dimensions, the Fiesta doesn’t feel like a tiny car once you slip behind the wheel, with in-cabin amenities above and beyond what one would expect in a subcompact.
The front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2011 Ford Fiesta is available as either a five-door hatchback or four-door sedan. Both models are exclusively equipped with a 1.6-liter Duratec inline four cylinder engine with Twin-Independent Variable-cam Timing (Ti-VCT) producing 120 horsepower (HP) and 112 foot pounds of torque. The Fiesta is available with a five-speed manual or six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The official fuel economy estimates for the 2011 Ford Fiesta are 29 city / 38 highway miles per gallon when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission. The PowerShift six-speed automatic is rated at 30 city / 38 highway, while the SFE package-equipped model rolls in at a chart-topping 30 city / 40 highway.
We traveled well over 600 miles in our five-speed manual Blue Flame Metallic Fiesta SES hatchback review unit and were able easily surpass the official mileage estimates, with an average of 44.6 MPG on the Interstate highway and 37.3 MPG combined, with temperatures ranging from the mid-sixties through the nineties. Interstate highway testing temperatures ranged from the high-seventies through the eighties. The test vehicle was delivered with just over 4000 miles on the odometer.
The Fiesta SES hatchback and SEL sedan are equipped with 16 inch painted aluminum alloy wheels and P195/50R16 all-season tires. The SE model features 15 inch eight-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with P195/60R15 tires, while the entry level S sedan is clad with 15 inch steel wheels with six-spoke covers and P185/60R15 tires.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Although we were not able to run our standard loops due to schedule conflicts (our week with the Fiesta manual five-door coincided with the first Rally America Rallycross event), Interstate highway mileage testing yielded interesting results, with some extended segments ranging well into the high-fourties.
The Fiesta’s 120HP inline four asks to be rung out to make that highway merge, with a manual shifter that’s up to the task. (Our testing shows the Fiesta to be faster in the 0-60 sprint than both the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.)
Highway driving range is good. All 2010 Fiestas are fitted with a 12.0 gallon fuel tank and are designed to run regular unleaded fuel.
Forget about forgetting your gas cap at the service station. The Fiesta lacks a gas cap, with an EasyFuel Capless Fuel Filler that automatically seals shut when the fuel filler door is closed.
Curb Weight: The 2011 Fiesta five-door weighs 2,537 pounds with the manual transmission and 2,575 with the automatic, while the four-door sedan comes in at 2,578 pounds with the manual and 2,628 with the automatic.
The Fiesta is equipped with four wheel anti-lock (ABS) disc/drum brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Front rotors are 10.2 inches, rear drums are 7.9 inches.
While the manual Fiesta has both an average fuel economy display and a handy upshift light – that indicates the best time to change gears – it lacks a real-time fuel-economy display. This is an oversight in an otherwise wonderfully executed cabin. We always recommend using an instant MPG gauge to encourage a fuel-efficient light-footed driving style. Fuel-concious Fiesta drivers may opt to add an aftermarket instantaneous MPG display unit to squeak the most miles out of every gallon.
Out on the road the Fiesta is a joy to drive, with ride and handling that show the competition how it should be done. As small as it is, the Fiesta doesn’t feel tiny when you’re behind the wheel … it feels like a larger, more substantial car. Score one for the electric power-assisted steering and the chassis engineers.
The Fiesta’s cabin sets a high mark, with excellent fit and finish and a host of features. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has an agreeable amount of heft and features integrated controls. While our SES hatch was equipped with the standard cloth seats, leather seating surfaces are available. The driver’s seat features four-way manual adjustment. The Rapid Spec 301A option package includes (one-level) heated front seats, although adjustable lumbar support is not offered.
The Rapid Spec 301A option package also includes an Intelligent Access system that allows you to enter a locked car (while carrying the key fob) by pressing the door handle button, in addition to keyless start.
The SES hatchback and SEL sedan are equipped with a six-speaker/80 watt audio system with Sirius satellite radio, voice-controlled Microsoft SYNC, and hands-free Bluetooth. (Other models are outfitted with a four-speaker system.) USB iPod and audio line-in jacks are located on the center console. iPod support is excellent and SYNC supports Bluetooth phonebook downloads. The four-inch center-mounted monochromatic LCD Message Center is well shielded from glare.
It’s all about being calm, cool, and connected on that difficult commute. There are two 12-volt outlets: one behind the shifter and the other at the back of the center console. Ambient LED lighting helps set the mood, with a colorful glow in the console and footwells. A power moonroof is optional.
The Fiesta’s second row seating is tight and lacks a center armrest. There are 37.2 inches of rear seat head room and 31.2 inches of rear seat leg room in the five-door hatchback.
The hatchback provides 15.6 cubic feet of cargo area behind the 60/40 fold-down rear seat. There’s 26 cubic feet of storage with the rear seat down. Folding down the rear seat is easy to accomplish from either the hatch or second row.
All-in-all, the 2011 Ford Fiesta sets a high mark among subcompacts, with ride and handling that rise above the class. Let there be no question about it. Small cars can be very cool and the Fiesta will be the subcompact to which all others are compared. Going forward, we’d like to see two engine choices added to the Fiesta line: a super fuel-efficient turbo-diesel and a sport-oriented EcoBoost gas engine.
– by Daniel Gray