Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kelley Blue Book: Ford Fiesta Is Stylish, Safe and Smart Enough for Students

Student drivers can be a demanding bunch, not to mention their parents, but both groups can be happy with the 2012 Ford Fiesta, according to Kelley Blue Book's The vehicle-information provider recently included the Fiesta on its 10 Best Back-to-School Cars of 2012 list, praising the subcompact for its fuel efficiency, safety and, perhaps most importantly for students, its cool looks.

Available as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, the Ford Fiesta can return up to 40 mpg on the highway when equipped with the SFE package, meaning a budget based on a part-time job doesn't have to keep students at home on weekends. Like all vehicles on the 10 Best Back-to-School Cars list, the Fiesta is available for under $16,000, according to Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price. Meanwhile, parents can rest assured that their children are safe and secure, thanks to the car's seven standard air bags.

"Appealing to young drivers and their parents at the same time isn't an easy task, but Ford has done a great job of getting high grades from both groups with the Fiesta," said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Ford dealer in Massachusetts. "Other cars on the market with similar pricing or fuel economy don't have the head-turning style of the Fiesta. Or, if they do turn heads in the high school parking lot, it's not in a good way."

Though the Fiesta was lauded by for its fuel efficiency, it is not the only Ford grabbing headlines for gas mileage. The 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid multi-activity vehicle, which will reach dealerships this fall, recently became the first Ford hybrid to earn across-the-board EPA fuel-economy ratings of 47 mpg in city, highway and combined testing. On the highway, the C-MAX Hybrid handily beats its direct competitor, the Toyota Prius v, by returning up to seven more miles per gallon. That efficiency allows Ford's new hybrid model to travel 570 miles on a single tank of gas, topping the Prius v by 120 miles.

The key to the C-MAX Hybrid's impressive fuel economy is its advanced gas-electric drivetrain, which combines an efficient 2.0-liter gas engine with a powerful electric motor that pulls electricity from a 1.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power is channeled to the front wheels through an electronic continuously variable transmission, which allows for swift acceleration and smooth cruising in any circumstances.

While fuel efficiency is a standout characteristic of the C-MAX Hybrid, Ford engineers put an equal emphasis on versatility when designing the vehicle. Even with five passengers, there are 24.5 cubic-feet of cargo space, enough for groceries or camping equipment, but that number increases to 52.6 cubic-feet with the back seats folded, providing ample room for bikes, skis or home-improvement materials. The C-MAX Hybrid makes it easy to load all that gear too, with an available hands-free power liftgate that is activated by swinging a foot under the rear bumper.

"A lot of Massachusetts families need a multipurpose vehicle that doesn't sacrifice fuel economy, and the Ford C-MAX Hybrid fits that mold perfectly," added Melkonian. "Not only is it roomy, safe and incredibly efficient, it is very reasonably priced, starting at $1,300 less than the Toyota Prius v."