Used Car Review

2012 Ford Fiesta: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions May 2015

Along with the Ford Focus, the Fiesta is a tangible representation of Ford Motor Company's drive to leverage its well-regarded and popular-selling European small cars for U.S. consumption. The 2012 Ford Fiesta is the sixth-generation version of this subcompact car, available as a conventional 4-door sedan or a sporty 5-door hatchback. The front-drive Fiesta is renowned for its taut and responsive chassis and good fuel economy.

The Fiesta offers a comprehensive array of standard safety equipment, including dual front airbags, side airbags, overhead airbags, a driver's knee airbag, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction control systems. Most versions of the Fiesta are also available with Ford's excellent SYNC hands-free phone connectivity system. New for 2012 is a standard driver's seat armrest and mini blind-spot mirrors in the side mirrors.

What We Like

Fun-to-drive character; decent fuel economy; available SYNC voice-activated infotainment controls; choice of sedan or hatchback body styles; comfortable front seats

What We Don't

Cramped back seat; poor rearward vision; cluttered dash; windshield glare; narrow cabin; cumbersome seatback adjustment

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine powers the 2012 Fiesta. With four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts, the 1.6-liter generates 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque on a diet of regular unleaded fuel. It's teamed with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. Equipped with the manual 5-speed transmission, the 2012 Fiesta has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, while 6-speed dual-clutch automatic versions are rated at 29 mpg city/39 mpg hwy. The Super Fuel Economy (SFE) version of the dual-clutch automatic model is EPA-rated at an impressive 29 mpg city/40 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Ford Fiesta is available in S, SE, SEL and SES trims.

The base S is available only as a 4-door sedan. Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 4-speaker AM/FM stereo with an audio input jack, variable intermittent wipers, 185/60 tires wrapping 15-inch steel wheels, a split fold-down rear bench seat, a driver's seat armrest, mini blind-spot mirrors, and power door locks and mirrors.

SE models come in sedan or hatchback body styles. SE standard upgrades include power front windows, keyless entry, a trip computer, premium cloth seats, a compass and an outside temperature display. Popular SE options can add heated front seats, 185/60 tires on 15-in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, heated door mirrors, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, SYNC hands-free phone integration and SiriusXM, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control and a power moonroof.

SEL sedans upgrade to 195/50 tires on 16-in alloy wheels, cruise control, the 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, SYNC, SiriusXM and steering-wheel audio controls, adjustable ambient interior lighting and heated door mirrors with turn-signal indicators. The SEL can be optioned with 2-tone leather seats, a leather-wrapped shifter, push-button start and a power moonroof.

The hatchback-only SES comes with a standard rear spoiler and otherwise offers the same standard and optional features as the SEL sedan. New for 2012 is a Premium Sport Package with a shorter 4.25:1 final-drive ratio for quicker acceleration, plus dark accents to the lower grille, headlights, window surrounds, mirrors and rear spoiler.

Pricing

The Fiesta drives home the point that small cars don't have to feel cheap just because they're inexpensive to purchase and operate. As good as the 5-speed manual transmission is, expect to pay more for Fiesta models equipped with the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Fiesta has a full complement of standard safety features, including seven airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction and stability control, so it's a good choice for first-time buyers on a budget.

To get a good idea of the 2012 Fiesta's price range, investigate the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader listings to see which models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following recalls for the 2012 Fiesta:

A broken door latch part may allow the door to open unexpectedly while the vehicle is moving, increasing injury risk to passengers.

The passenger side-curtain airbag won't deploy when the front passenger seat is empty, even if a passenger is seated in the right rear seat, increasing injury risk to the rear passenger in a collision.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2012 Fiesta four stars overall, with four stars for frontal impacts, five for side impacts and four for rollover performance.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2012 Fiesta a Top Safety Pick. It gave the 4-door sedan Good ratings for moderate-overlap front and side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats. The Fiesta 5-door hatchback netted Good scores each for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts and roof strength.

Ford Motor Company sold the 2012 Fiesta with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/unlimited-distance corrosion-perforation warranty and 5 years/60,000 miles of roadside-assistance coverage.

Ford certified pre-owned vehicles can't be more than five years old or show more than 80,000 miles. Every certified pre-owned Fiesta undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and powertrain coverage extending 7 years from when the vehicle was first sold or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Also included is a vehicle history report and roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Honda Fit -- This subcompact 5-door hatch is three feet shorter than a Honda Crosstour, but offers more interior space due to innovative packaging that places the gas tank under the front seat. Despite its mini-minivan look, the Fit is fun to drive, making the most from its 117-hp 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine.

2012 Scion xD -- The smallest Scion is a 5-door hatchback. No sedan is offered. Its 128-hp 1.8-liter engine makes generous power for the class, and is EPA-rated at 27 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with either the base 5-speed manual or the optional 4-speed automatic. The stylish xD adds standard Bluetooth and HD radio for 2012.

Autotrader's Advice

Ford's Fiesta is part of a new crop of small cars that are fuel efficient, easy to maneuver and fun to drive. They have also been top sellers in Europe for many years. Even though the Fiesta is inexpensive, we think the ownership experience will be more enjoyable if buyers opt for the better-equipped SE, SEL or SES models that have power windows, mirrors and door locks, cruise control and the upgraded audio system with Ford's excellent SYNC hands-free phone interface and SiriusXM radio. Although the dual-clutch automatic 6-speed transmission will satisfy the needs of most buyers, we also think that the Fiesta's inherent fun-to-drive character will be more easily accessible with the 5-speed manual gearbox. Stick with well-cared-for and lower-mileage examples when possible, and going the certified pre-owned route is always a wise choice. Make sure the Fiesta you're considering purchasing has had any applicable safety recalls attended to by the dealer.

Find a Ford Fiesta for sale

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.
2012 Ford Fiesta: Used Car Review - Autotrader