By Cars.com EditorsOctober 2, 2012
About the video
The 2012 Ford Fiesta could have used a few tweaks with its interior styling and the automatic transmission, says Cars.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger.
<v Male Voice>Cars.com auto reviews. Hi, I'm Jennifer Geiger with cars.com and this is the 2012 Ford Fiesta. The tiny car originally hit the U.S. market for 2011 and not much has changed for 2012.
It's still available with two body styles, a sedan and hatchback, and with one engine. 120 horsepower, 1.6 liter four cylinder. Ford's tiny car is a big hit in Europe and it's cute, wedgie hatchback body style really won me over. But does it have what it takes to make it in the American market? Let's take a closer look. While the exterior may look fun and fresh, the interior is full of hits and misses. Materials quality is good with lots of padded plastic and some painted chrome peppered throughout, but the seats really bugged me. They're comfortable, but the material and the fabric is really dated looking. Kind of reminds me of the booth fabric at an eighties bowling alley. The climate controls are large and easy to use, and the winged instrument panel looks cool, but some audio functions are confusing. Simple controls take a lot of mental work. For example, inputting channel presets is much harder than it should be. Also, this car comes with SYNC, Ford's optional multimedia system. It's voice activated, and sometimes it just didn't read my voice, saying Bluetooth over and over again got frustrating. And then when my phone connected, it lost it. Fiesta's ride is on the harsh side, but it's never uncomfortable. As you would expect in such a tiny car, it's really maneuverable. It feels agile around corners, and it's easy to park in the city thanks to a really tight turning circle, but it's slow. There's enough pep from a stop, but it feels really weak on the highway and takes its time gathering speed for passing and merging. One big problem is the six speed automatic transmission. It feels and sounds jerky and clunky. It shifts don't feel well-timed. It bogs and surges, and could really use some work. This is the optional transmission. A five speed manual is standard. Fuel economy though is a bright spot. During my 378 mile trip, I averaged 37.6 miles per gallon. It's EPA rated at 29 39 MPG city highway. At just 160 inches long, the Fiesta is definitely a subcompact, but I had enough room in the front seat. So did my six foot passenger. The backseat is another story however. Kids will fit fine, but adults will need more room to be comfortable, especially if they're carrying stuff. The Ford Fiesta trails the competition when it comes to cargo space. The area is narrow and things are pretty tight with just 26 cubic feet of total space. I was able to put a small stroller here, but competitors offer much more. The Honda Fit and Nissan Versa offer approximately 57 and 50 cubic feet respectively. The Fiesta starts just to touch under 15,000, including destination. It's got competitive pricing, standout styling, and great fuel economy, but an unrefined transmission, frustrating multimedia system and lack of cargo space would really make me shop elsewhere. For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog, KickingTires.net.