Friday, February 21, 2014

This pair of Fords affordable, capable

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – Today is double-duty, blue oval day, looking at a couple of affordable Ford passenger cars that have been helping the American automaker boost sales in multiple markets.

Ford has been very clever in the perk-heavy, good fuel mileage, affordable passenger car niche, and the Ford Focus is Exhibit A in that department.  My tester, a 2014 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback (pictured), was well stocked at a starting price of $24,115.  A few extras pushed the bottom line to $26,300, but the basic offering suited me just fine.

Power is provided by a 2-liter, four-cylinder, 160-horsepower engine that was peppy enough to handle all the chores and delivered an advertised 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.  Very nice numbers, indeed.

My ride looked sharp and streamlined, even in relatively mild-looking Sterling Gray Metallic skin, and the extra cash for 18-inch alloy wheels was worth it, in my view.  Interior room was not cavernous, but adequate for even backseat riders.  Vision all around from the cockpit was exceptional.

The Titanium’s list of standard features was generous, including reverse-sensing/rearview camera feature, four-wheel disc brakes and puddle lamps.  You don’t see a lineup like that on a lot of “affordable” models.

Overall, this is a B-plus car all the way.  For young folks trying to hold the price line on their first “family” car, it likely gets an A grade.

Moving on to the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE, my week in the car produced a mixed bag of results, most of them positive.

The bargain curve is steeper in the Fiesta lineup.  You can have the most basic model starting at $14,600.  An SE sedan will run you $15,450, and an SE hatchback runs just slightly more than that.

Again, the Fiesta is pretty well equipped for the price.  And it’s loaded with safety features, including a hill-start assist control, traction control, electronic stability control and a vehicle stability management system.

The small power plant only puts out about 120 horsepower, which will get you about 30 miles per gallon on city streets and 40 mpg on the open road.

You’d think that I wouldn’t have a problem handling 120 horsepower.  You’d be wrong.

For whatever reason – gearing, tuning, heavy right foot syndrome or aging driver – I kept burning little bits of rubber on standing starts.  Seriously, it kept happening, despite my attempts to be more disciplined.

Obviously, not everyone is going to consider this a bad thing in their small affordable car.  Still, just wanted you to know.

The Fiesta was pretty noisy at full song, but it had a certain nimbleness at high speed that made me feel secure, even in heavy commuter traffic on the interstates.

A solid B for grade for this car to be sure.


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