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2012 Ford Fiesta (pictures)

Ford's subcompact comes in a practical hatchback style, and includes app integration through Sync, but its European driving feel may deter some.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 20 Josh Miller/CNET
The Ford Fiesta is a European-designed car that fits into the subcompact class. It gives Ford buyers a sub-$20k option that gets good fuel economy. It's available as a sedan or, as seen here, a hatchback.
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The styling is unique, influenced heavily by its European roots. The front is very rounded, with well-integrated headlights bookending an almost nonexistent grille opening.
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Ford's 1.6-liter engine uses variable valve timing to achieve 120 horsepower and 112 foot-pounds of torque. It's EPA mileage is 29 mpg city and 39 mpg highway.
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Although it's Ford's smallest car, five can squeeze into the cabin and leave ample cargo space.
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The Fiesta's suspension is pretty standard for the economy segment, using a torsion bar for the rear wheels.
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Ford also uses drum brakes at the rear wheels, as opposed to the discs on the fronts.
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The cargo area has a deep well, and enough area to hold about six grocery bags.
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There are no luxury trim elements in the cabin design. Cloth lines the seats, and hard plastics cover the dashboard.
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The front seats have an inset at the rear to amplify the legroom for rear-seat passengers.
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At this car's SES trim level, there are virtually no tech options. Sync, the primary cabin tech feature, comes standard.
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Ford keeps the controls on the steering wheel minimal, relegating volume control to the center console and voice command to the turn-signal stalk.
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This attractive gauge cluster includes a trip computer, with average fuel economy and range to empty, in the center display.
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Sync's ability to download a paired phone's contact list and make it available through voice command, is one excellent feature of the Fiesta, although most other automakers have copied it.
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Sync also indexes music from MP3 players and USB drives plugged into the USB port, and makes it possible to browse categories in this monochrome display.
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Voice command lets you say the name of a song, artist, or album, and begin playback.
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In SES trim, the Fiesta also includes Sirius Satellite Radio, although it will require a monthly fee.
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Bluetooth audio streaming is also available as a source, but the car does not show track information.
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A number of apps can be controlled through the dashboard interface, such as Pandora, Slacker, MOG, and NPR News. The apps have to be loaded onto a smartphone in the car.
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With an iPhone plugged into the car, the screen changes to this display when app integration is live.
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The audio system in the Fiesta is better than average. The tweeter produce crisp and detailed highs, although the system lacks the power for punchy bass.

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