Ford Fiesta SES

Ford Fiesta SES     Photo: Photo courtesy of Ford

THE SELL: Hybrid-like fuel economy (up to 38 mpg) and European style without the premium price.
THE TEST: The relatively tiny four-door, hatchback with a 5-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive handles like a sportscar and made driving—and parking—in downtown Denver unexpectedly fun. And I still clocked 35.5 mpg on a tank's worth of aggressive, traffic-packed city travel. Drag: The miniscule backseats accomodated nobody bigger than elementary-school kids—best to fold the rear seats down and simply use the space for cargo (Sorry, cyclists. Your rigs need to go up top on a roof rack).
THE VERDICT: An arrow on the tachometer lights up to tell drivers to up-shift at a low rpm to save fuel. Ignore it. By shifting at 3,500 rpm or higher, the 1.6L, 4-cyl engine burns a little more gas, but you'll unleash the Fiesta's sporty side, the one that features 120-hp and an hp-to-weight ratio that's the equal of an early 1970s Porsche 911. $17,120; 29 mpg city/38 hwy; ford.com

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