From the Munchkins in The Wizard Of Oz to every Jack Russell terrier you're ever likely to see, we can think of a lot of great things that are small but spunky. Well, here's another to add to that list: the 2017 Ford Fiesta.
The Fiesta, which comes in sedan and four-door hatchback versions, offers lively handling and performance that make even everyday errands seem fun. The performance-oriented Fiesta ST model is even more entertaining thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and 197-horsepower four-cylinder engine. But even if it's frugality you're after, Ford still has you covered with the Fiesta's 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine that delivers surprisingly zippy performance and outstanding fuel economy.
What's more, all Fiestas are pleasant places to spend time, with comfortable front seating and a lot of the latest technology, including keyless entry and ignition and Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system, which features a 6.5-inch touchscreen that incorporates familiar smartphone gestures such as swipe and pinch-to-zoom. There are a couple potential deal breakers, however. Both the ST model and the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder are offered with manual transmissions only, so you're out of luck if you don't want to shift for yourself. You can get an automatic on the mainstream Fiestas, but it's not the smoothest-shifting unit in the world. Finally, the car's pint-size dimensions mean there's a shortage of rear seat room and cargo capacity.
If you're looking to explore other options, we recommend starting with the roomy Honda Fit, which can't be beat for cargo-carrying versatility. The Chevrolet Sonic is also a contender thanks to its confident handling, and checking out the related Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio is a wise idea. Ultimately, though, the 2017 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback remain among the best small-and-spunky choices out there.
Every 2017 Ford Fiesta comes standard with antilock brakes (four-wheel discs for the ST and front discs/rear drums for the rest of the lineup), traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags that cover both rows and a driver knee airbag. Standard Sync features include a 911 Assist function, which uses your paired cellphone to connect automatically to a 911 operator in the event of an emergency. The SE adds the MyKey system for setting electronic parameters for other drivers (teens, valets, etc.), and the Titanium model features a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
In Edmunds brake testing, multiple Fiestas stopped from 60 mph in 117 to 122 feet, which is better than average. The Fiesta ST stopped in 112 feet, which is satisfactory for an affordable performance car with summer tires.
In government crash tests, the Fiesta received four out of five stars for combined overall protection, with four stars for front-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Fiesta the top rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint/seat (whiplash protection) tests. In that agency's small-overlap front-impact test, though, the Fiesta received the second-lowest Marginal rating.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Ford Fiesta is a subcompact car that's offered in two body styles: a sedan and a four-door hatchback. Both are available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. The high-performance ST model is available only as a hatchback.
The entry-level S model comes with a decent list of standard features, including 15-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, power mirrors, a rear spoiler (hatchback only), remote keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power locks and manual windows, Bluetooth, Sync voice controls, a 3.5-inch center display, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.
The Fiesta SE builds on the above with 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, upgraded cloth upholstery, a front center console with armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows, cruise control, a trip computer, chrome interior door handles, metallic-painted interior trim, multicolor ambient lighting and MyKey parental controls for teen drivers.
The SE Appearance option package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler (sedan), sport cloth upholstery, adjustable lumbar support for the driver, a leather-wrapped shift knob, the Sync 3 infotainment interface with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and enhanced voice controls (including AppLink mobile app integration), satellite radio and dual USB ports (replacing the auxiliary audio input jack). The Cold Weather package bundles heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and automatic climate control.
The SE can also be had with the SE EcoBoost Fuel Economy package, which includes the turbocharged three-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, various aerodynamic improvements, and special wheels and tires to help the Fiesta achieve slightly better fuel economy.
At the top of the heap is the Titanium trim level, which incorporates the contents of the SE Appearance and Comfort packages but wears a different set of 16-inch alloy wheels, plus chrome exterior trim, a black grille and rear parking sensors. It also has keyless entry and ignition, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio.
The Fiesta ST hatchback also starts with the Fiesta SE's amenities plus the items in the SE Appearance package, then adds the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes and quicker steering, unique bodywork, a larger rear spoiler and dual exhaust tips. You also get keyless entry and ignition, ST-specific cloth sport seats (with driver height adjustment), distinctive interior trim and the Sony sound system with HD radio. The ST Recaro package adds heated Recaro front sport seats (including height adjustments), leather and cloth upholstery, and heated mirrors. Also available are black 17-inch wheels with red brake calipers.
A sunroof and a navigation system are stand-alone options on the SE, Titanium and ST trims.
The 2017 Ford Fiesta gets a standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and a six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission is available as an option. The PowerShift is technically a dual-clutch automated transmission that Ford uses for increased efficiency, but it operates more or less like a conventional automatic.
In Edmunds performance testing, both the manual and automatic-equipped Fiestas went from zero to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds, which is adequate performance for this class.
EPA fuel economy estimates for this powertrain are 30 mpg combined (27 city/36 highway) with the automatic transmission. The manual transmission is effectively the same, checking in at 30 mpg combined (27 city/35 highway).
The optional EcoBoost 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder produces 123 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed manual is the only transmission available. In Edmunds performance testing, this little engine brought the Fiesta from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, which is a bit quicker than average for the class. EPA fuel economy estimates are 35 mpg combined (31 city/41 highway), matching the thriftiest cars in the segment.
The Fiesta ST's turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is rated at an impressive 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered. In Edmunds performance testing, the Fiesta ST sprinted to 60 mph in a sprightly 7.1 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates for the ST stand at 29 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway), an excellent result for such a powerful engine.
Hit the road in the 2017 Ford Fiesta and you'll find the standard suspension tuning and precise steering feel make for very satisfying driving dynamics without sacrificing ride comfort. The sport-tuned suspension and steering underpinning the ST model further sharpen the car's reflexes, making it a blast on a curvy stretch of two-lane blacktop while still preserving an entirely docile demeanor in everyday driving.
The standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder is smooth but not particularly powerful. The turbocharged three-cylinder is a good bit better in this regard, delivering strong performance as well as enviable fuel economy. The ST's 197-hp motor puts both to shame, of course. The five- and six-speed manual transmissions add to the fun, but the fuel-saving automatic — essentially a manual gearbox with a computer-operated clutch — can respond slowly in common situations such as stop-and-go traffic.
The 2017 Ford Fiesta may be Ford's least expensive car, but it doesn't feel like it. The interior is notable for both its high-quality materials and its stylish good looks. Available amenities such as heated leather seats, the premium Sony audio system and multicolor ambient lighting add a distinctly upscale vibe.
There's plenty of room up front, and the height-adjustable driver seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel make it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The optional Recaro front sport seats feature more substantial side bolsters but, although they offer good support in aggressive motoring, some buyers may find them a tight fit or just plain less practical in everyday driving. The rear seats are seriously short on head- and legroom no matter how you slice it.
We're more fond of the Fiesta's in-car technology offerings. The standard Sync system's voice recognition makes it possible to interact with your smartphone hands-free, and offers access to other useful features including turn-by-turn driving directions and emergency assistance. The available Sync 3 system improves on that idea with sharp graphics and an intuitive arrangement of controls on its 6.5-inch touchscreen.
When it comes time to schlep stuff, the Fiesta sedan's trunk offers a decent 12.8 cubic feet worth of space. The hatchback's cargo hold is only slightly bigger with 14.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Fold down the rear seatbacks and you end up with 25.4 cubic feet of room, an amount of space that's definitely below average. The Fit, in contrast, can hold up to 52.7 cubic feet of cargo.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.