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2011 Ford Fiesta SEL Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Ford Fiesta SEL

Model: 2011 Ford Fiesta SEL
Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 120 hp @ 6,350 rpm/112 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 98.0 in.
Length/Width/Height: 173.6 x 67.8 x 58.0 in.
Tires: P195/50R16
Cargo volume: 12.8/20 (est.) (rear seat up/down)
Fuel economy: 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway/36.3 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 12.0 gal.
Curb weight: 2,758 lbs.
Sticker: $18,505 (includes $675 destination and delivery charge and $1,505 in options)

The Bottom Line: Ford's latest "World Car" is the Fiesta. While it may be on the small side for American Interstates, it is still a very good performer around town and, in a pinch, on highways as well. Fuel economy rivals the hybrids, which is always good.

Ford is resurging, and one of the reasons for this is that its cars are good and make sense. Take the new Fiesta for example. The old Fiesta was a standard squareish hatchback with minimal performance and not-that-great economy. But oh, how the Ford designers and engineers have worked on this new one.

The 2011 Fiesta looks good, has decent performance (for an economy car) and knows how to behave itself, whether on an Interstate or suburban roads.

We had the Fiesta as a vacation car in which we covered more than 1,100 miles. And despite Sync, which I have never been able to master, this is a fine small car.

The 1.6-liter engine "powering" the Fiesta seems small, but it does the job. Power is almost inadequate, but you can use the 5-speed manual transmission to gain the most from it. The engine is buzzy most of the time. But, economy is great at 36.3 mpg overall and more than 38 mpg on the highway. Kinda makes you forget about the noise.

At times, I felt the power was low, especially on Interstates. But then I learned to shift out of fifth and into third or fourth when I wanted to accelerate faster. Actually, cursing along isn't a problem most of the time. It's only when I want to think I'm in a Ford GT that it's a problem.

I liked the gearbox in general. I felt it could have been more precise, but when I shifted I was pretty sure I was going to hit the right gear.

Even under cruise control I was able to maintain the set speed except on tall hills, when the engine would labor.

The Fiesta will cruise all day at the speed limit and above. We found a speedometer error of about 5 mph. But when you need to accelerate, it's usually best to downshift. Staying in fifth just doesn't cut it.

Both my wife and I felt ride quality was decent for a small, light car. The Fiesta is one of the narrowest cars we have driven, coming in at 1.7 inches less than Elantra, 2.2 less than Jetta, 1.2 less than Mazda3 and 5.4 less than Maxima. It is a good four-seater.


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We also felt the cargo capacity was huge for the size of the car. At 12.8 cubic feet, the trunk is big for the car, and it's useful. fold down the seat backs and you gain about 8 more cubic feet. The "hole" from front to back isn't total, but that made it practical to use as a stop, keeping interior luggage from migrating to the trunk.

My only complaint with the trunk is that the struts for the hood intrude into the cargo area. This is old technology that Ford can work around for the redesign.

The front seats are comfortable with decent side support. My daughter reported that the back seat was okay, but when I sat back there, my knees were firmly wedged into the back of the front seat.

Overall ride comfort is good. The manual seats can be adjusted for almost anyone, except if you're over 6-3 or so.

I liked the convex mirrors in the outer upper corner of the outside rearview mirrors. They're like an inexpensive version of a blind spot monitor, and gives about an extra lane of view.

I also love Ford's capless fuel filler, which is on the company's entire line for 2011. In addition, the Fiesta had a push-button start/stop and blue lights in the cup holders so you can find them at night.

The Ford Fiesta isn't a Taurus, but it is a solid, inexpensive economy car that delivers what it promises, and a little more.

2010 The Auto Page Syndicate