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2017 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2016

The 2017 Ford Fiesta subcompact moves into the new model year as an older contender, but it still has one of the best front-wheel-drive chassis setups in the business. The range spans from basic and frugal to luxurious and sporty.

Believe it or not, the Fiesta is in its sixth generation, but it's only been on sale in the United States since 2011. In Europe and other parts of the world, it came out of the factory gates as an entertaining runabout, and it's improved steadily 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 2017?

Ford discontinued the Black appearance package for this model year.

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?

$14,535-$22,015

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 estimates that with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, the Fiesta will sip gas at a rate of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Using the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission results in 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy. Go for the Fuel Economy package with the auto transmission to bring those numbers up to 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.

The option engine (for SE models) 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/41 mpg hwy. One downside: 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. The only available transmission is a 6-speed manual. Fuel economy is 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy, so the improved performance comes with minimal penalty at the pumps.

All versions are equipped with front-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Ford Fiesta hatchback and sedan come in S, SE or Titanium trim; the higher-performance ST comes solely as a hatchback.

The S sedan ($14,535) starts with 15-inch steel wheels, power side mirrors and locks, hill-start assist, 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.

SE ($15,765) adds 15-in alloy wheels, power windows, automatic headlights, cruise control, interior accent lighting, trip computer, a center console with an armrest and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also has the MyKey system that allows owners to set certain limitations for anyone else who drives the car.

An SE Appearance package brings 16-in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler (for the sedan), fog lights, sport cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped gear knob, adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, 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, voice control and AppLink integration.

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

The EcoBoost Fuel Economy package can also apply to the SE. It packs aerodynamic tweaks such as special-design wheels and tires to help improve gas mileage.

Titanium ($19,525) has most of the above as standard and adds the automatic transmission, 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 specially designed 16-in alloy wheels.

ST ($22,015) comes with much of the Titanium's standard equipment, including Sync 3, but it deletes seat and mirror heating while adding performance items such as 17-in alloy wheels, a sport body kit, a sport suspension, dual exhaust tips, sport front seats and aluminum pedals.

The ST can be enhanced by the Recaro package, which (not surprisingly) brings a pair of super-supportive, height-adjustable Recaro sport seats up front, 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, Kicker subwoofer (for the sedan) and remote start (automatic transmission only).

The Fiesta can accommodate four adults, 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 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 gear. With the seats up, there's 14.9 cu ft. The sedan's trunk capacity is 12.8 cu ft. Neither this nor the hatchback are particularly great in this regard.

Safety

All Fiestas come 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 gave 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 awarded the Fiesta its highest score of Good in all categories except the small-overlap frontal impact test, where it received a Marginal rating (the second-worst out of four grades).

Behind the Wheel

The suspension is taut, but it 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 (4-cylinder only), 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 hp 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

2017 Honda Fit -- The Fit has stronger resale value and more space for rear passengers and cargo, and it allows for ingenious passenger/cargo combinations. It's less fun, though.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic -- With great fuel economy and optional features, the refreshed-for-2017 Sonic is a natural rival to the Fiesta. Just make sure to get the turbo engine.

2017 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.

2017 Nissan Versa -- The Versa is remarkably spacious for the class and one of the cheaper cars around. But that low price doesn't necessarily represent a great deal, and it's dull to drive.

2017 Toyota Yaris -- It's not the most inspired of choices, but no one will dispute the Yaris's reliability or efficiency.

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

Autotrader's Advice

An updated Fiesta is anticipated for the 2018 model year. In the meantime, a 2017 SE with the EcoBoost engine makes sense while still providing some fun. The ST is obviously the enthusiast's choice.

Find a Ford Fiesta for sale

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New 2017 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
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New 2017 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
MSRP $26,025
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New 2017 Ford Fiesta ST Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
MSRP $25,650
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New 2017 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback
New 2017 Ford Fiesta
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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.
2017 Ford Fiesta: New Car Review - Autotrader