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2019 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review

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author photo by Russ Heaps January 2019

Rumors of the death of the 2019 Ford Fiesta are somewhat exaggerated. Ford announced future production will concentrate on trucks and SUVs, but the Fiesta is with us for at least another year. Popular in the world market long before it first went on sale in the U.S. in 2011, the Fiesta is much older than most Americans imagine.

There's much for budget shoppers to like about this small runabout available as a sedan and a hatchback. Running the gamut from basic 4-door transportation to an affordable fun-to-drive performance hatch, the Fiesta provides plenty of options to customize the ownership experience. Nine exterior colors, including Outrageous Green and Hot Pepper Red, and loads of factory and dealer upgrades allow consumers to make Fiesta their own.

What's New for 2019?

The big news is the addition of the Fiesta ST-Line series grade that is so popular in Europe. Ford discontinued the Fiesta's Titanium trim.

What We Like

Euro-style looks and handling; impressive interior design and features; enjoyable performance with the ST

What We Don't

High-end models get pricey; cramped rear seat; unimpressive automatic transmission

How Much?

$15,135 -- $22,215

Fuel Economy

The basic engine is a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder making 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that, with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, it will sip gas at a rate of 27 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined. Using the optional ($1,095) 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission results in 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.

The Fiesta ST-Line and ST have a turbocharged, 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that develops 197 hp and 202 lb-ft. Just one transmission: a 6-speed manual. Fuel economy is 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined, so there isn't even a penalty at the pumps.

All versions are front-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

Only the 2019 Ford Fiesta SE grade comes as both a sedan and a hatchback. The S trim is sedan only while the higher-performance ST-Line and ST trims are hatchback only. All prices reflect the $875 factory delivery charge. Hatchback configuration for the SE adds $300 to the bottom line.

The S sedan ($16,365) starts with 15-in steel wheels, a capless fuel filler, halogen headlamps, air conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power door locks with remote keyless entry, a 6-speaker audio system with CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, Sync, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, hill-start assist, seven airbags and a rearview camera.

The sedan SE ($16,365) adds 15-in alloy wheels, cruise control, MyKey, power windows and trip computer.

An SE Appearance package consists of 16-in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler (for the sedan), fog lights, sport cloth upholstery, satellite radio, a pair of USB ports (the auxiliary input is replaced by one of these ports) and the Sync 3 infotainment interface with a 6.5-in touchscreen, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, voice control and AppLink integration.

The Cold Weather package contributes heated front seats, heated mirrors and automatic climate control.

The ST-Line ($18,500) loses the auto climate control, but adds to the SE with outboard mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators and blind spot mirrors, twin chrome-tipped exhaust, fog lamps, a keyless entry keypad, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals, satellite radio, Sync 3, two charging USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Cold Weather Package is also available.

ST ($22,215) gets back the automatic climate control and adds 17-in alloy wheels, a full-size spare tire, push-button start, a Sony audio system, sport suspension, a 6-speed manual transmission and upgraded stability control.

The ST can be enhanced by the Recaro package that (not surprisingly) brings a pair of super-supportive Recaro sport seats up front, both with height adjustment, plus leather/cloth upholstery and heated mirrors. For extra presence, you could order 17-in wheels finished in black and front brake calipers in red.

Some of the standard features on higher trim levels are offered on lower trims as options. Individual extras include a sunroof, navigation, a sport body kit, a Kicker subwoofer (for the sedan) and remote start (automatic transmission only).

The Fiesta can accommodate five adults in a pinch, but front occupants enjoy most of the headroom and legroom. Compared with rivals like the Honda Fit, the Nissan Versa and the Toyota Yaris, the Fiesta's rear compartments come up a few inches short.

Both the sedan and the hatchback feature 60/40-split folding rear seats. In the hatchback's case, folding down those seats creates 25.4 cu ft., enough space for a couple of snowboards and a weekend's worth of gear. With the seats up, there's 14.9 cu ft. The sedan's trunk capacity is 12.8 cu ft. Neither the sedan nor the hatchback is particularly great in this regard.

Safety

Every 2019 Ford Fiesta comes with seven airbags (front, front side, driver's knee and full-length side curtain). Then there are the mandatory anti-lock brakes (discs at each corner of the ST, rear drums on the others), plus stability and traction control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), gives the Fiesta four stars out of five overall, including four for front impacts, but only two stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Fiesta with a score of Good (the highest rating) in all categories except for the small-overlap frontal impact test, where it received a Marginal rating (second worst out of four grades).

Behind the Wheel

The suspension is taut, yet absorbs enough road imperfections to make the ride comfortable. When a car has as much poise and agility as this, engine power is a bit beside the point. The 5-speed manual transmission is also a delight, with effortless gear changes. Most people will probably choose the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic (in non-ST versions), which allows manual changes, but isn't as refined.

If ever there was a good reason for learning to drive stick, it's the Fiesta ST. This is a true hot hatch, bringing nearly 200 horses and a genuinely engaging suspension. On the track, it's the real deal, pairing prodigious turbocharged torque with razor-sharp reflexes.

In general, the only major complaint is sound-related. At freeway speeds, more wind and road noise comes into the cabin than we'd really like, but that's not uncommon at this price level.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Honda Fit -- Stronger resale value, more space for rear passengers and cargo, plus ingenious passenger/cargo combinations. Updated for 2018. Less fun, though.

2019 Chevrolet Sonic -- With great fuel economy and optional features, the Sonic is a natural rival to the Fiesta. Just make sure to get the turbo engine.

2019 Kia Rio -- All-new in 2018. Gives the Fiesta a run for its money in both styling and overall performance, plus it has Kia's generous factory warranty.

2019 Nissan Versa -- Remarkably spacious for the class and one of the cheaper cars around. But that low price doesn't mean a great deal and it's dull to drive.

2019 Toyota Yaris -- Not the most inspired of choices, but no one will dispute its reliability or efficiency.

Used Mini Cooper -- For something more upscale, yet still with a bubbly personality, excellent front-drive manners and compact dimensions, this could be just the ticket.

Autotrader's Advice

At this price bracket, why not go for the 2019 Ford Fiesta ST -- the version that's the most fun? Let the rivals provide the run-of-the-mill runabouts. One day, people will look back fondly on the ST and a looked-after model could hold its value well. If the runabout route is preferred, an SE with the SE Appearance package is the way to go.

Find a Ford Fiesta for sale

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New 2019 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
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New 2019 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan
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New 2019 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan
New 2019 Ford Fiesta
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New 2019 Ford Fiesta SE Sedan
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2019 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review - Autotrader