If you’re looking for information on a newer Ford Fiesta, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Ford Fiesta Review
The 2018 Ford Fiesta is a fine subcompact. But it looks like this generation is coming to an end. At the time of writing this review, chances are Ford may not bring the newer model to the United States for 2019. Or perhaps the company might offer just the spicy ST version.
Believe it or not, the Fiesta is in its sixth generation, but has only been on sale in the United States since 2011. In Europe and other parts of the world, however, it came out of the factory gates as an entertaining runabout and has improved steadily ever since. Despite its age, the basic Fiesta still has one of the best front-drive chassis setups in the business.
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. The range spans from basic and frugal up to luxurious or sporty.
What’s New for 2018?
Buyers lose the option of a turbocharged 1.5-liter/3-cylinder engine. But they gain a rearview camera as standard throughout the range. See the 2018 Ford Fiesta models for sale near you
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
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 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission results in 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.
The Fiesta ST has 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 have front-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Ford Fiesta hatchback and sedan come in S, SE or Titanium trim; the higher-performance ST comes solely as a hatchback.
The S sedan ($14,990) starts with 15-inch steel wheels, powered side mirrors and locks, hill-start assist, remote keyless entry, manual windows, air conditioning, 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, 4-way manual adjustable front passenger seat, rearview camera, Sync voice command system with Bluetooth and iPod/USB connectivity, tilt-telescopic steering column and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input.
SE ($16,220) adds 15-in alloy wheels, power windows, automatic headlights, cruise control, interior accent lighting, trip computer, center console with 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 consists of 16-in alloy wheels, rear spoiler (for the sedan), fog lights, sport cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped gear knob, adjustable lumbar support (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, 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.
Titanium ($19,980) has most of the above as standard, plus the automatic transmission, chrome exterior trim, black grille, keyless entry/push-button start, self-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, upgraded Sony 8-speaker audio system with HD radio, and its own design of 16-inch alloy wheels.
ST ($22,070) comes with much of the Titanium’s standard equipment, including Sync 3, but removes seat and mirror heating while adding performance items such as 17-in alloy wheels, sport body kit, sport suspension, dual exhaust tips, sport front seats and aluminum pedals.
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, 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, Nissan Versa and 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.
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 (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 its Good score (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
2018 Honda Fit — Stronger resale value, more space for rear passengers and cargo, plus ingenious passenger/cargo combinations. Updated for 2018. Less fun, though.
2018 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.
2018 Kia Rio — All-new for 2018. Gives the Fiesta a run for its money in both styling and overall performance, plus it has Kia’s generous factory warranty.
2018 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.
2018 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.
At this price bracket, why not go for the 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.