2014 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback

2014 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback Review

More proof that smaller is almost always better.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: July 15th, 2014

Traditionally, small, inexpensive cars have not been among the most appealing. This is certainly the case with the widely reviled Mitsubishi Mirage. But just when we were about to give up on our dreams of a spirited, economical American car, along comes the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback to demolish our expectations.

There's no reason small cars shouldn't be popular. They're more economical and safer than many larger cars (being more maneuverable makes small, light cars better for avoiding crashes, while larger cars are sometimes better for surviving crashes), and they don't even need to be slow if they're outfitted properly.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta SE Hatchback is easily the best subcompact on the market currently. Although it's not the cheapest (the Nissan Versa and the Mitsubishi Mirage are both a bit less expensive, but a lot less fun), it's the most stylish, the best-equipped, and the most fun.

The Fiesta's look hasn't changed much for the 2014 model, which is fine, as it's always been an attractive car, especially in hatchback form. The interior is an ergonomic delight, with its limited space used to such good effect that one never feels cramped, at least in the front row seats.

The base SE is rather stripped down, with a small, 1980s-looking monochromatic display through which the horrible Ford Sync is operated. We had innumerable problems, as always, with Ford's interface, and we can't recommend an infotainment upgrade strongly enough.

As for the way it drives ... well now, that's the good stuff. Ford's 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, mated with a simple but perfectly tuned five-speed automatic transmission, delivers a remarkably tight, nimble ride. You won't be rocketing from a dead stop in the Fiesta, but you shouldn't be doing that anyway. In the real world, the turbocharged three offers just enough power when you need it.

Making a great car isn't just about power and speed, it's about balancing that power with the proper suspension, steering, and braking to create something that feels like a mechanical exoskeleton wired directly to your brain. So if 123 horsepower makes you go "meh" you ought to get inside a Fiesta and see for yourself just how much fun you can have.

We spent a solid week logging over a thousand miles on our test car, and with the exception of the Ford Sync, we could find no aspect of this car that didn't impress us.

The affordability of the Fiesta is certainly nothing to complain about. That's not only about the sticker price, of course, it's about Fiesta SE's remarkable fuel efficiency. Rated at 43 mpg on the highway, Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost engine is the most fuel efficient non-hybrid on the market.

During our time with the Fiesta, we paid no heed to mileage, instead concentrating on having fun driving. Even still, we averaged close to 40 mpg without having to resort to watching our speed, skimping on the AC, or drafting behind a semi.

Very few cars on the market manage to deliver such a seamless blend of utility, affordability, and driving fun regardless of how much they cost. That Ford has managed to deliver on so many promises at once for under $20,000 is pretty damn impressive.

It's hard to think of anyone for whom this car would not make sense. Even if you have a huge family and you think you need a minivan - screw that, buy two of these and you'll save a ton of money and you'll have way more fun.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 1.0-liter turbocharged inline three-cylinder

    Transmission: 5-speed manual

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front wheel drive

    Power Output: 123 hp / 148 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 32 city / 43 highway

    Price (base): $16,080

    Price (as tested): $18,190 (includes $825 destination charge)

    Available Features:

    Comfort Package: Heated first-row seats, heated side mirrors, electronic automatic temperature control.

    SE EcoBoost Fuel Economy Package: 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine

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