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2016 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2015

The 2016 Ford Fiesta is a star performer in the subcompact segment. It goes from basic and frugal up to luxurious or sporty, offering one of the best front-drive chassis setups in the business. Believe it or not, the Fiesta is in its sixth generation, but it has only been on sale in the U.S. since 2011. In Europe and other parts of the world, though, it came out of the factory gates as an entertaining runabout and has steadily improved ever since.

Available as either a sedan or a 4-door hatchback, the Fiesta comes in a wide array of colors for both exterior and interior schemes, and even the lower trim levels can be kitted out with useful technology.

What's New for 2016?

SYNC 3 is the buzz term here. This updated, more user-friendly infotainment system is making its way into most new Ford cars, at least from the midlevel trims up, and replaces the less popular MyFord Touch. The entry-level S model has remote keyless entry and an alarm as standard; the SE can now come with sporty cosmetics and the Black package, and the ST's front passenger seat no longer has height adjustment as standard.

What We Like

Euro-style looks and handling; impressive interior design and features; great gas mileage; serious performance with the ST

What We Don't

High-end models are pricy; cramped rear seat; unimpressive automatic transmission

How Much?

$14,580-$21,460

Fuel Economy

The basic engine is a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder making 120 horsepower and 112 lb-ft of torque. With the standard 5-speed manual transmission, it sips gas at a rate of 28 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined. Using the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission results in 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy and 31 mpg combined. Go for the Fuel Economy package with the auto transmission to bring those numbers up to 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy and 32 mpg combined.

The option engine is a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder unit, but it is turbocharged, hence the EcoBoost name, and manages to balance a respectable 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque with a remarkable 31 mpg city/43 mpg hwy and 36 mpg combined. One downside is it can only be paired with the manual transmission.

The Fiesta ST has a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that develops 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque, which goes a long way in such a small car. It has just one transmission, a 6-speed manual. Fuel economy is 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy and 29 mpg combined, so there isn't even a price to pay at the pumps.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Ford Fiesta hatchback and sedan come in S, SE or Titanium trim; the higher-performance ST is only available as a hatchback.

The S ($14,580) starts with 15-inch steel wheels, power side mirrors and locks, remote keyless entry, manual windows, air conditioning, driver's-seat height adjustment, a SYNC voice command system with Bluetooth and iPod/USB connectivity, a tilt-telescopic steering column and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input.

The SE ($15,810) adds 15-in alloy wheels, power windows, cruise control, interior accent lighting, a trip computer, a center console with an armrest and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

An SE Appearance package consists of 16-in alloy wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler (for the sedan), sport cloth upholstery, adjustable lumbar support (driver's seat), a leather-wrapped gear knob, satellite radio, dual USB ports (the auxiliary input is replaced by one of these ports) and the SYNC 3 infotainment interface with a 6.5-in touchscreen, voice control and AppLink integration.

The Comfort package throws in heated front seats, heated mirrors and automatic climate control.

The EcoBoost Fuel Economy package can also apply to the SE. It packs various aerodynamic tweaks, including special-design wheels and tires, to help improve consumption. The Black package brings 16-in black alloy wheels, black exterior trim and fog lights.

The Titanium ($18,530) has nearly all the previous items as standard, plus chrome exterior trim, a black grille, keyless entry/start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera with rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, an upgraded Sony 8-speaker audio system with HD Radio and its own design on 16-in alloy wheels.

The ST ($21,460) comes with much of the Titanium's standard equipment, including SYNC 3, but deletes seat and mirror heating while adding performance items such as 17-in alloy wheels, a sport body kit, dual exhaust tips, sport front seats and aluminum pedals.

The ST can be enhanced by the Recaro package that unsurprisingly brings a pair of super-supportive Recaro sport seats up front, both with height adjustability, 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, a navigation system, a sport body kit, a Kicker subwoofer (for the sedan) and remote starting (automatic transmission only).

In terms of passenger space, the little Fiesta can accommodate four adults, but front occupants enjoy most of the headroom and legroom. Compared with rivals such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, the Fiesta's rear compartment comes up a few inches short.

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

Safety

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

In government crash tests, the Fiesta received 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 awarded the Fiesta its Good score (the highest rating) in all crash-test 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 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 (4-cylinder only), which allows manual changes but isn't as refined as the real shifter.

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

In general, the only major complaint is related to sound. 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

2016 Honda Fit -- The fit offers stronger resale value, more space for rear passengers and cargo and ingenious passenger/cargo combinations. It's less fun than the Fiesta, though.

2016 Chevrolet Sonic -- With great fuel economy and available features, the Sonic is a natural rival to the Fiesta. Just make sure to choose the turbo engine.

2016 Kia Rio -- The Rio gives the Fiesta a run for its money in both styling and overall performance, plus it has Kia's generous factory warranty.

2016 Nissan Versa -- Remarkably spacious for the class and one of the cheaper cars around, the Versa's low price doesn't mean a great deal, and it's dull to drive.

2016 Toyota Yaris -- Not the most inspired of choices, but no one will dispute the Yaris' reliability or efficiency.

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

Autotrader's Advice

The ST is obviously the enthusiast choice, but an SE with the EcoBoost engine makes a lot of sense while still providing some fun.

Find a Ford Fiesta for sale

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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.
2016 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review - Autotrader