2012 Ford Fiesta Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 10, 2011

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2012 Ford Fiesta Buying Advice

The 2012 Ford Fiesta is the best car for you if you want a distinctively styled, nimble small car that proves “inexpensive” need not mean “cheap.”

The 2012 Ford Fiesta carries over virtually unchanged after its model-year 2011 U.S. debut. This subcompact offers a choice of four-door sedan and four-door hatchback models. It’s aimed at younger buyers but the 2012 Fiesta also holds appeal for anyone looking to downsize but not necessarily downscale. Nearly 100 million Fiestas have been sold worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. With a dash of European attitude, a wealth of available convenience features, and 40-mpg highway fuel economy, the playful 2012 Fiesta is an attractive alternative to a typical “econobox” subcompact.

Should you buy a 2012 Ford Fiesta or wait for the 2013 Ford Fiesta? Wait for the 2013 Fiesta if you’re revved up for a truly hot hatch – the 247-horsepower 2013 Fiesta ST. Otherwise, buy the 2012 Fiesta. Mainstream 2013 Fiestas aren’t likely to changes outside perhaps some new color choices and an added feature or two. The 2012 model remains fresh, with most observers still recognizing it as an all-new model and you’ll escape a likely price increase for model-year 2013.

2012 Ford Fiesta Changes back to top

Styling: Having just been introduced to North American buyers for model-year 2011, the 2012 Ford Fiesta’s appearance is unchanged, though new options packages dress it up with various visual add-ons.  

The 2012 Fiesta continues to offer two distinctive body styles: a four-door sedan and a sportier-looking four-door hatchback. Depending on your taste, either Fiesta body style might strike you as refreshingly unique or cloyingly odd-looking.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta’s dynamic exterior look – Ford calls it “kinetic” design – is highlighted by a wide lower air dam and a grille flanked by narrow headlamps that sweep gracefully up and into muscular front fenders. Neither Fiesta body style qualifies as a large car, but the sedan is more than a foot longer overall than the hatchback and its sweeping roofline reinforces a bullet-like appearance.

Inside, the 2012 Ford Fiesta stands out with a cleverly cast cabin that features materials of higher quality than typically found in a subcompact car. The instrument panel is nicely designed with large and legible gauges featuring needles that look like little spaceships firing red lasers. The center panel of controls is styled to look like a face of a mobile phone, albeit one that predates today’s screen-dominated smartphones.

Interior roominess is a mixed bag. Front-seat travel is generous enough for the tallest drivers and passengers to stretch their legs though some of our testers say the seats themselves can begin to feel stiff on longer drives. Headroom is adequate, but a dearth of legroom limits the rear seat’s utility to kids or shorter adults. The sedan’s trunk is surprisingly large and useful, while the hatchback’s cargo-carrying versatility is hampered by rear seatbacks that don’t fold flat enough to create a large load floor.

Fiesta is mechanically related to the Mazda 2, though styling and engines differ and the Mazda comes only as a four-door hatchback. Both cars are based on a common global subcompact platform developed when Ford and Mazda had a closer working relationship. According to international size categorization, these are “B class” cars. The absolute smallest models, such as the two-seat Smart ForTwo, are considered “A class” cars, while compacts like the Ford Focus are known as “C class” vehicles.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta is offered in multiple trim levels. The sedan comes in the value-leading S model, the better-equipped volume-selling SE, and the top SEL. The hatchback is offered only in SE and SES trims.

Among additions to the 2012 Fiesta, small convex “spotter” mirrors are integrated into the side mirrors to help minimize blind spots. Newly available are two interior style packages and an expanded sport appearance package. The interior packages include two-tone leather-trimmed seats with harmonizing door trim inserts, color-coordinated steering wheel and instrument panel trim, premium carpet floor mats embroidered with the Fiesta logo, and a leather-wrapped gearshift knob.

These packages are available on the SEL sedan and SES hatchback models in two distinctive color combinations. The Race Red package combines red and black leather-trimmed seating and door panels with red steering wheel and instrument panel trim. The Oxford White package mixes a “tuxedo” black and while color scheme with a similar layout.

An expanded premium sport appearance option for Fiesta SES hatchback models also makes its debut for model-year 2012. Specifying this option adds 16-inch polished alloy wheels and black trim surrounding the headlamps, lower grille surround, side mirrors, windows, and rear spoiler.

Mechanical: The 2012 Ford Fiesta is based on a front-wheel-drive layout, with the only available engine a reasonably modern all-aluminum 1.6-liter four-cylinder that features variable camshaft timing. It’s rated at 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque, which is about average for a subcompact car. Fiesta proves peppy on the uptake, but runs out of steam rather quickly at full throttle; a throaty exhaust note at least aurally enhances its acceleration.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all versions of the 2012 Ford Fiesta. As typical of fuel-sipping subcompacts, the manual is the transmission to get if you want to wring as much thrust out of the small engine as possible. Adding the aforementioned Premium Sport Appearance package to a manual-transmission SES hatchback replaces the standard 4.07:1 final-drive ratio with a 4.25:1 for quicker off-the-line acceleration.

Unique in this class is Fiesta’s optional automatic transmission. It’s Ford’s PowerShift six-speed sequential-shift automatic, which is essentially an automated manual transmission that eliminates a clutch pedal in favor of dual internal clutches. This type of design is popular among sporty cars because it can deliver quick, manual-like shifts with a more aggressive feel than a typical automatic. As a bonus a Fiesta equipped with PowerShift gets slightly better fuel economy than one with the manual gearbox.

Unfortunately, in day-to-day operation, the PowerShift transmission detracts from the Fiesta driving experience, especially in low-speed city travel, where it seems to be constantly searching for the right gear. And unlike most other cars with similar automatic-manual transmissions, the Fiesta PowerShift does not include a manual-shift mode.

In addition, buyers of the 2012 Fiesta SE sedan and hatchback equipped with PowerShift can choose a Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package that includes specific wheels, spoilers, and air deflectors to help attain maximum mileage.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta delivers reasonably sporty handling with good steering response, though this small, light car’s ride can get rough over pavement irregularities. A sophisticated electric power steering system helps contribute to both fuel economy and handling sharpness. Ford and other automakers are embracing this type of system because it puts less drag on the engine than a conventional belt-driven hydraulic power steering system. Ford goes a step further by programming the system to help Fiesta remain stable, regardless of road crown or crosswind conditions. It even detects and compensates for minor vibrations from tire balance irregularity.

While the 2012 Ford Fiesta is equipped with a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup instead of a superior four-wheel-disc configuration, it does include a standard antilock function to improve control in emergency stops. As per federal regulation for 2012, an antiskid stability-control system is standard across the line. Ford calls its systems AdvanceTrak. It helps keep the car on course if the driver takes a curve too quickly or engages in an emergency-handling maneuver. Most 2012 Fiesta models ride on 15-inch wheels and tires, with the SEL sedan and SES hatchback featuring 16-inch rims and rubber.

Features: The 2012 Ford Fiesta offers an impressive array of features, including some not usually found on subcompact cars. For starters, seven airbags, including one at knee height on the driver’s side are standard. Available amenities, depending on the model, include automatic climate control, keyless entry/pushbutton-start, a keyfob remote starter, heated front seats, power moonroof, leather upholstery, and color-selectable ambient “mood lighting.” Assorted exterior graphic “tattoo” packages are also available with which buyers can dress up their rides.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta SE, SEL, and SES versions can be fitted with Ford’s Sync multimedia system. This option provides voice-command control of assorted systems or manual operation via dashboard controls or steering wheel-mounted switches. It includes a USB interface for connecting and controlling iPods and a Bluetooth adapter for hands-free calling and streaming music from a mobile phone.

A proper GPS navigation system is not offered on the 2012 Ford Fiesta. But the Sync option can display turn-by-turn navigation directions for selected routes on the car’s dashboard-mounted LED screen, as well as current traffic and weather information and news headlines; a three-year service subscription for these functions is included.

All 2012 Ford Fiesta models come with air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, height adjustable driver’s seat, power locks and mirrors, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, an AM/FM radio with an auxiliary jack, and Ford’s capless EasyFuel system that allows owners to fill the gas tank without having to worry whether they replaced the gas cap before driving off.

2012 Ford Fiesta Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2012 Ford Fiesta is $13,995-$18,295. That’s no increase in the price of the entry-level 2011 S sedan and a nominal hike of $500 increase for the top-line SES hatchback. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination charges; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Fiesta is $795.)

The 2012 Ford Fiesta S sedan with a manual transmission is priced from $13,995, which is competitive with similarly equipped subcompacts.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta SE sedan has a base price of $15,295 and the 2012 Fiesta SEL sedan starts at $17,395.

The 2012 Fiesta hatchbacks start at $16,295 for the SE model and at $18,295 for the SES. SES models, along with the SEL sedan, are nicely equipped, but their priced edge into territory occupied by roomer and more powerful compact cars.

Choosing Ford’s PowerShift automatic transmission instead of the standard five-speed manual adds $1,095 to the above prices. Adding a CD stereo and keyless entry to the base S model costs $495. Equipping other models with the Sync system costs $595.

The Super Fuel Economy package for 2012 Fiesta SE sedans and hatchbacks with PowerShift is priced at $695.

Among other Fiesta options, a power moonroof costs $745, with leather seats on the SEL and SES going for $795. An upgrade package for those models that includes pushbutton ignition, heated front seats, an alarm system, and chrome trim is priced $795.

2012 Ford Fiesta Fuel Economy back to top

EPA mileage estimates for the 2012 Ford Fiesta are unchanged from their model-year 2011 levels, leaving this car among the most frugal on the road but with only one model qualifying for the 40-mpg club.

The 2012 Ford Fiesta rates 28/37 mpg city/highway and 32 mpg combined city/highway with the five-speed manual transmission and 29/38/33 mpg with the PowerShift automatic.

Adding the Super Fuel Economy package to a PowerShift SE model bumps this rating to 29/40 city/highway, 33 mpg combined.

As for the 40-mpg club, that’s an unofficial grouping of subcompact and compact cars with EPA ratings of 40 mpg in highway driving. As with the 2012 Fiesta SFE version, attaining that rating typically requires spending extra for a model optimized for fuel economy. The exceptions in the subcompact class are the 2012 Hyundai Accent and 2012 Kia Rio, cousin models under the same South Korean manufacturing umbrella. Every version of both those cars rates 40 mpg in highway driving, regardless of transmission.

2012 Ford Fiesta Release Date back to top

The 2012 Ford Fiesta should reach dealers’ showrooms in September 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Ford Fiesta back to top

Though the Ford Fiesta may look new to U.S. eyes, it’s been offered in its present form to buyers elsewhere in the world since model-year 2008. While bigger changes may take place in overseas markets first, the American version isn’t likely to undergo a major restyling until model-year 2016.

In the meantime a sportier variant could arrive here for model-year 2013. Similar in concept to the ST version planned for the 2012 Ford Focus, the sporty 2013 Fiesta would use a version of Ford’s EcoBoost four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The Fiesta “ST” likely would get a 1.6-liter with 150-160 horsepower.

2012 Ford Fiesta Competition back to top

Honda Fit: While it’s a bit roomier than the Fiesta, the Fit is likewise fun to drive and offers clean styling and impressive overall sophistication. The rear seat can fold flush with the cargo floor to afford maximum carrying abilities. It’s no speedster, but it does deliver decent fuel economy at 27/33/30 mpg with standard manual transmission and 28/35/31 with the optional automatic. Base prices weren’t announced in time for this review, but we expect them to range from $16,000-$17,500. Fit’s next redesign probably won’t come until model year 2013, when it’s expected to add a plug-in gas-electric hybrid with an estimated range of some 70 miles on electricity alone.

Hyundai Accent: Redesigned for 2012 and coming in sedan and four-door hatchback models the smallest car from the aggressive South Korean automaker gains a newfound sense of style. The 2012 Accent’s prime appeal remains as a capable small car that emphasizes value in terms of features and price. A new direct fuel-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine generates a peppy 138 horsepower, with a six-speed manual transmission standard and a six-speed automatic optional. Fuel economy is an impressive 30/40/34 with either transmission. Though the 2012 Hyundai Accent no longer comes in a sad and stripped bargain-basement model near $10,000, it remains a value leader in its base form at prices that run from $13,205-$16,555. As before, it’s closely related to the Kia Rio.

Toyota Yaris: Likewise redesigned for model-year 2012 model-year makeover, the Toyota Yaris continues in slightly larger four-door sedan and two- and four-door hatchback body styles. Though specifics weren’t released in time for this review, reports suggest a 1.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine will be offered with a start-stop function (depowering it automatically when at idle) to maximize its fuel economy; a gearless CVT transmission with manual-select paddle shifters is said to be available in place of a conventional automatic. Fuel economy should be as high as 40 mpg on the highway. The 2012 Yaris will likely be priced at or just above $13,000 for a base model.

2012 Ford Fiesta Next Steps