2019 Ford Fiesta features peppy engine but minimal cargo space

The 2019 Ford Fiesta competes well with other subcompacts.

The 2019 Ford Fiesta competes well with other subcompacts.

Ford Media/ Contributed photo

Time was, automakers pulled the plug on models that weren’t selling well, or were so far behind their competitors in quality and performance that they were dragging down the brand. There’s a reason most Americans won’t see a single Edsel, Hudson, Studebaker, Rambler or Yugo during their travels this week. That is not the case, however, with the Ford Fiesta, a competitive subcompact hatchback or sedan whose worst trait was its name’s similarity to that of Ford Festiva, a forgettable minicar that debuted in the 1980s.

We encountered the 2019 Fiesta SE — one of the last of its breed — during a recent weekend trip and found it every bit as serviceable as the other subcompacts we’ve driven. The Fiesta’s only deficiency, especially when compared with the Honda Fit, was luggage space and cargo room with the rear seat lowered. Its capacities were 12.8 and 25.4 cubic feet, well short of the diminutive Fit’s 16.6 and 52.7 cubic feet. We gave a “Ford guy” a ride and he spoke well of the Fiesta, a model he’d never ridden in or driven.

The Fiesta performed well for us. Its 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower inline Four engine was peppy and not unduly loud, even under hard acceleration. Handling was excellent — a quality it shared with the Fits we’ve driven over the years.

The Fiesta is available as a hatchback or sedan. The base Fiesta S sedan starts at just $14,260, but it’s pretty basic, even to the point of having manually operated windows. The base hatchback, the SE, starts at $15,790 and is much better equipped. Standard features include power windows and locks, cruise control, rear-view camera, AM/FM audio system with single CD and MP3 capability, SYNC with SYNC Applink voice-activated technology, manual tilt-telescoping steering column, and audio controls on the steering wheel.

2019 Ford Fiesta SE

Price: $18,855

Engine: 1.6-liter inline Four, 120 horsepower, 112 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: front-wheel

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, twist beam rear

Curb weight: 2,475 lb.

Wheels: 16x6.5-in. alloy

Tires: P195/60R16 H all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 12.8 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 25.4 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 12.4 gal.

Fuel economy: 27 mpg city, 37 highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Our Fiesta SE was equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission instead of the standard 5-speed stick shift. The automatic gearbox was a $1,095 option.

Fuel economy was in the low- to mid-30s for us. We never reached the car’s maximum highway rating of 37 mpg.

At the top of the line is the Fiesta ST, featuring a 197-horsepower turbocharged Four, and a starting price of $22,960.

The Fiesta and other Ford models are due to disappear from the showrooms, as management focuses on pickup trucks, crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. The Fiesta is selling better than it did in 2018, when Ford moved 51,730 of the subcompact cars — the most since 2015. Sales are sure to climb through the remainder of September thanks to a $3,000 cash-back incentive.

With the presence of two body styles, several trim levels, and two engine and transmission choices, it seemed Ford had a commitment to the Fiesta, which debuted in the United States in 2008. That apparently wasn’t the case, but a number of automakers — including Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Volkswagen — seem determined to continue building small cars.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.