2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door Titanium review: Up-spec’ing base, or downsizing Titanium?

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum

Does this car make sense? Is it reasonable to load an entry-level car with Stuff and Things and rock and roll the price up from the mid-teens to just shy of $22k? Our test 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatch Titanium, priced at $18,800, as optioned had a list price of $21,880—that over a base price $15395 (including destination) for the Fiesta, so that’s what we intended to do with this test. Is the Fiesta worth it?

As usual, that depends on what one wants in a car. If its minimalist transportation, there’s that Fiesta S.  But for anyone looking for Stuff and Things, our test 2014 comes well equipped, and rock and rolls the price up from the mid-teens to $21,880? So that’s what we intended to do with this test. Is it worth it?

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum interior

The 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum has its multi-information screen mounted on the top of the dash. (click to enlarge)

Our tester, as a five-door, makes more sense to us than a four-door sedan in this size and price class. The five-door gives more utility, with a usable trunk and, with the rear seatback folded, the capacity to bring home a wide-screen television without one end or another hanging out somewhere with a picture going viral on Facebook.

The rear seatback folds for extra cargo, of course, but it doesn’t fold completely flat, something that would make it easier to slide that big box in. However, a false floor which brings the cargo area floor even to the base of the seatback makes it easier to get the big things in, with the option of using the space underneath for oddments, or removing it for that last bit of space.

The other thing that small car buyers usually want, in addition to the small shadow a small car casts, is a thrifty engine. Ford puts the smallest engine available in the U.S. in the Fiesta, an EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that’s rated at 32/45 mpg city/highway respectively. That wasn’t in the Fiesta we tested—it comes only with the SE trim level—but rather the Fiesta S and Fiesta Titanium have the standard 1.6-liter four only, which is available with a five-speed manual—which seem so antiquated today—or an optional six-speed automatic.

 

Our test Fiesta had the automatic, which is equipped with a thumb rocker on the shift lever for manual operation. Don’t expect any rev matching or other tricks. It’s just a regular automatic transmission well done which, unless the driver is shifting manually, is smooth and unobtrusive. Just not tricky.

Where the regular 2014 Ford Fiesta begins to vary is in trim levels. The Fiesta S is the base trim level. It’s offered as a four-door sedan for $14,000 or the more flexible five-door hatch for $14,600. It comes with Ford’s basic SYNC system, with SYNC applet that allow voice controls of smart phones—including smart-phone navigation, for example. But the Fiesta S also has hand-crank windows.

However, as with all 2014 Fiesta models, it comes with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and stability control, but it also has decreasingly common rear drum brakes. The Fiesta’s twist-beam rear axle to go with its MacPherson strut front suspension is standard operation for this class of car, as are 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers.

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum cargo area

The 2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum cargo area has a false floor to make the floor level and to hide anything that will fit. (click to enlarge)

Don’t expect too many Fiesta S models on dealer’s lots, and sport compact car enthusiasts will head straight to the Ford Fiesta ST, but that’s another animal. The mid-range Ford Fiesta SE is the volume model, equipped with power windows (with driver automatic up/down) and locks, cruise control, trip computer and more. The SE also upgrades to a 6.5-inch touch-screen multi-information display on top of the centerstack. The m.i.d. housing is a clever design for multiple applications in various markets, a plug-in module that doesn’t take any space on the center stack and doesn’t leave a big embarrassing hole if it’s not on that particular model. Good thinking, Ford.

Moving up to the 2014 Ford Fiesta Titanium, however, adds SYNC with MyFord Touch, a system similar to that on more expensive Ford models. It doesn’t have all the feature available on the higher priced spread, however, but the optional navigation system works as well, with crisp graphics that make the most of the room available. Audio and Bluetooth phone are also on par with the bigger cars. That’s one of the reasons for paying more for the Titanium model.

The Fiesta Titanium comes standard with a proximity key system and push button start, plus a review camera. A “Sony-branded” audio system is standard on the Titanium and delivers—how to put this—a premium sound quality.

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum

2014 Ford Fiesta 5-door hatchback Platinum (click to enlarge)

Leather seating is standard on the Titanium as well, along with heated front seats, neither available on lesser Fiestas. The armrests are nicely padded and the dash is soft touch. It’s good honest plastic and Ford has enough confidence to send it out without phony stitching. Overall, the Fiesta Titanium is a compact, well, not luxury car, but darned nice.

The price for our tested model is about $3,000 more than the standard Fiesta Titanium, and is in part due to $795 delivery fee that’s part of the bottom line for any Fiesta, and the Ruby Red Tinted Clearcoat, is a $395 option that will be very popular with dealers wanting to pad the price. But the automatic transmission adds another $1,095 to the window sticker, and Ford’s excellent navigation system checks in at $795.

The 2014 Ford Fiesta Titanium still has the same suspension and chassis tuning as the other Fiestas (other than the sport-oriented Fiesta ST), and the same engine and transmissions as well. The ride is firm, which benefits the Fiesta’s handling, but on bumpy pavement or road seams it’s apparent the Fiesta is, well, isn’t a luxury model. The Titanium’s 16-inch wheels—bigger than the standard 15-inch—perhaps aggravating the less than velvety ride. It’s far from jiggly but it’s also far from cloud soft. The engine is quiet in normal operation, but rev it to max rpm and it gets raspy, though never rough.