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2012 Ford Fiesta 5-door Hatchback Review By John Heilig

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2012 Ford Fiesta



Model: 2012 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback
Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 120 hp @ 6,350 rpm/122 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 98.0 in.
Length/Width/Height: 160.1 x 67.8 x 58.0 in.
Tires: P185/60R15
Cargo volume: 15.4 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 29 mpg city/39 mpg highway/28.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 12.4 gal
Curb weight: 2,537 lbs.
Sticker: $19,025 (includes $795 destination charge and $2,560 in options)

The Bottom Line: As Ford's "World Car" the Fiesta gives us an idea of what the rest of the world is driving, what with their narrow urban roadways and fuel prices that are even higher than what we pay. It's small, but not too small, with decent performance for its size.

As I get older I notice that I tend to prefer larger vehicles, but not too large. I'm not a big fan of big trucks, for example, and constant readers will note that I'm also not a big fan of the teeny cars.

The Ford Fiesta tends toward the smaller end of the scale. It rides on a 98-inch wheelbase and is only 160 inches (13.3 feet) long. As such, it will seem dwarfed by the big semis on the highway. On the other hand it's perfectly at home in the suburbs or urban areas.

The Fiesta is definitely a step up from the mini cars - the smart, Fiat 500 and Scion iQ - and it feels bigger than a MINI. All of the cars mentioned above are fun cars to drive (except the smart), and all are designed to deliver good to very good fuel economy.

Fiesta is listed as a 39 mpg highway car, just short of the magical 40 mpg. We achieved 28.2 mpg in our test that included primarily suburban driving, with a few short trips on the Interstates.

To get that economy, the Fiesta is short on power, only 120 horsepower for a 2,537-pound car. We had a 6-speed automatic transmission ($1,095 option), and feel that a manual would have allowed us to extract more performance from the little four cylinder. Still, driving the Fiesta was a comfortable experience.

Filling the tank was almost fun with Ford's capless filler system.

The hatchback style of the 5-door is good for cargo. However, we still had to fold down the rear seats in order to carry a golf bag. With the rear seats up the trunk is small for its listed 15 cubic feet, but it is useful. for example, there are hooks on the sides to attach your grocery bags.

The front seats are comfortable with good side support. I was surprised that they were heated (part of the $220 winter package). Since we drove the Fiesta in some pretty hot weather, we didn't check out how well the seats heated up.

Rear legroom is pretty tight. Rear passengers ride with their knees up against the backs of the front seats. There is some side support to the rear seats, and as I said earlier, the backs fold down to increase carrying capacity. There's a low center hump but it would still be3 cozy for a rear center passenger if he or she has any girth.

There are no hangers or assist handles in the rear.

Visibility is good all around. To serve as a blind spot warning system, the outside portion of the outside rear view mirrors is convex to give you a glimpse of what may be in the next lane.

One feature I like about most of the small cars is the simplicity of the instrument panel. There isn't a lot of money wasted on ultra-fancy instruments. In the Fiesta the driver faces two round gauges, with the tachometer on the left and the speedometer on the right. An information panel separates them.

The center screen for audio is a piece of work. With the USB/iPad plugged in, it was a bear to get it to start playing. then, the next time we got into the car, it switched back to radio. I'm certain I could have figured it out with more time.

Between the driver and front passenger is a small console with three small cupholders. Each front door has space for a water bottle.

Overall, the Fiesta is not a bad car, but it isn't a great one either. It does the job with few frills, sort of an appliance car.

2012 The Auto Page