2014 Ford Fiesta review: The little Fiesta gets Ford's big-time tech

This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.7
  • Cabin tech: 7.0
  • Performance tech: 6.0
  • Design: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The MyFord Touch system in the 2014 Ford Fiesta makes a good interface for music and the hands-free phone system, while its voice command system is one of the best in the business. Average fuel economy hits the mid-30s.

The Bad The navigation system renders maps slowly and doesn't compensate for GPS signal loss. MyFord Touch and Sync AppLink are mutually exclusive features.

The Bottom Line With its 1.6-liter engine, the 2014 Ford Fiesta makes for a mild-mannered urban runabout, but Sync and MyFord Touch add some compelling tech features.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

Editor's note: Ford revised its EPA fuel economy numbers for the 2014 Ford Fiesta. The new numbers show fuel economy of 28 mpg in city and 36 mpg on the highway. This review has been updated to reflect the new numbers.

Being a city dweller, I appreciate the small footprint of the 2014 Ford Fiesta. I was able to sneak this small hatchback down narrow streets, slip around double-parked trucks, and, most importantly, find parking.

However, the steep hills of San Francisco almost proved too much for the engine's meager 120 horsepower.

Ford updated the Fiesta's styling and cabin tech for the 2014 model year, but left the engine alone. Well, mostly. The company promises a Fiesta model with its 1-liter EcoBoost engine early next year. But more on that one later.

The front of the new Fiesta comes adorned with the big, wide-mouthed grille seen on the Focus and Fusion models. It's a signature Ford piece right now, and brings a cohesive look to the models. I had my doubts about whether the little Fiesta needed all this air intake acreage, as the previous model year, with the same engine, had the narrowest little slit for a grille.

The roofline looks a little less curved than the previous-model-year Fiesta. The liftback in particular seems more vertical, which should contribute to cargo space. Ford also offers the Fiesta as a sedan, but I'm a much bigger fan of the hatchback for its general practicality and sportier look.

An economy play
A sporty look unfortunately does not mean a powerful engine. Like the previous few model years, the Fiesta still comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, a mundane little mill that produces 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, the Fiesta is purely an economy play.

2014 Ford Fiesta
In hatchback form, the Ford Fiesta looks good and offers practical cargo space. James Martin/CNET

The example I had in my hands came in the top Titanium trim, but also had the standard five-speed manual instead of the available six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. I was happy with the manual transmission, as I could get the most out of the engine's limited power.

It may seem strange that, while Ford reports fuel economy for the manual transmission version as 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, the automatic transmission version gets 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. That similarity comes partly down to the fact the automatic has six forward gears, and that it is an automated manual transmission. Unlike traditional automatic transmissions that use a torque converter, Ford's PowerShift transmission uses two computer-controlled clutches, making it more efficient.

I was disappointed to see the manual transmission was only a five-speed, when a sixth gear might have improved the highway fuel economy figure a bit. As it was, the engine had to work a little harder, spinning above 3,000rpm, when I hit freeway speeds.

A little bolstering on the manually adjusted, leather-covered seats kept them comfortable, and I liked the soft-touch materials on the dashboard. As this Fiesta had the Titanium trim, I could keep the key fob in my pocket and start the engine with a button push.

Like just about all new cars, the Fiesta has electric power-steering boost. Ford tuned it for natural-feeling heft, and managed to dampen out the electric motor noise. With 16-inch wheels, the steering didn't need much boost, but I still appreciated how easily I could turn the wheel when the car was stopped.

2014 Ford Fiesta
This Fiesta came with the five-speed manual transmission, one fewer gear than I would have liked. James Martin/CNET

When cornering or just heading down the road, I found a bit of looseness in the feel of the steering. The steering reacts to input, but it feels a little soft, probably something Ford tuned intentionally to keep the car from seeming twitchy. The Fiesta is aimed at more casual drivers, which covers most of the populace.

Similarly, the manual gear shifter's gate felt pretty sloppy. Instead of precise shifts into each gear, each slot felt as big as a garage door. It is a comfortable shifter to use, however, so might work well when training people to drive with a proper transmission.

On a freeway merge, the manual transmission let me keep the engine speed high, winding up to 5,000rpm before each shift. Running that fast, the engine drones like it's ready to pull loose from its mounts and shoot through the hood.

Given the lack of power, and the loose shifter and steering, the Fiesta feels designed as a suburban commute car and errand runner. Decent fuel economy increases its allure for these uses. With some significant highway stretches coupled with slow city driving, I easily pulled fuel economy in the mid-30s.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

2014 Ford Fiesta

Part Number: 200466538

MSRP: $14,000.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Body style Hatchback
  • Available Engine Gas
Hot Products