2006 Buick Terraza



The Buick of minivans is generally what we'd expect a Buick to be: big, quiet, comfortable and loaded with conveniences.

If anything stands out about the 2006 Buick Terraza, it's how well this minivan takes care of its passengers. It comfortably seats seven in a nicely designed and finished interior. The base Terraza CX is loaded with standard features, including a DVD entertainment system for rear passengers and a one-year subscription to GM's in-demand OnStar tele-aid service. Terraza is also available with GM's unique PhatNoise removable hard drive, which allows the onboard entertainment system to play or display MP3 music files, photographs, video games and the latest movie releases.

Terraza's build quality meets or beats the best in the class, and it has the minivan essentials covered. It comes standard with a V6 engine, and it's available with all-wheel drive. With the optional towing package, it can pull 3,500 pounds.
For 2006, the Terraza offers side-impact airbags for rear passengers, and Buick has increased the standard warranty to a premium-grade four years or 50,000 miles. Yet the biggest news for 2006 is an optional 3.9-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a 22 percent increase in horsepower. Choose this engine and Terraza morphs from one of the least powerful minivans available into one of the most powerful.
That's good, because if Terraza falls short of the best in class, it's most obvious in the driving. The standard 3.5-liter V6 is adequate, no more. And while Terraza is quiet and comfortable in the Buick tradition, it feels less responsive than the minivans from Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota. That more powerful 3.9-liter V6 should help.
For now, Terraza's real strength lies in other important minivan virtues, and to considerable extent in its value. Comparably equipped, it retails for less than the Chrysler Town & Country or a loaded Toyota Sienna, and that's before the incentives GM frequently offers.
Like its contemporaries from Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn, Terraza stands on more solid competitive ground than previous GM minivans. It shares its chassis and mechanicals with the Chevy Uplander, Pontiac Montana and Saturn Relay, and the differences are defined by minor styling changes and varying equipment levels. While each brand may indeed appeal to different buyers, smart consumers will shop them all. Price differences among the GM minivans amount to a few dollars when they are comparably equipped, and all are available with the most popular features. The choice may come down to satisfaction with a particular dealership.
Like its GM counterparts, Terraza's long-nose, truck-style exterior design is intended to create the image an SUV more than a minivan. We say no one will mistake the Terraza for anything but what it is: a minivan with the flexibility, features and family-friendly conveniences minivan buyers expect.

Model Lineup

The 2006 Buick Terraza is offered in two feature-packed trim levels, with standard front wheel-drive, a 196-hp 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission. Both models have seating for seven and dual sliding rear doors. All-wheel drive and an upgrade V6 are optional on both trim levels, but you can't have both awd and the more powerful engine.

The Terraza CX ($27,250) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt wheel, remote keyless entry with programmable locks, power driver's seat, power windows, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD MP3 stereo system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and rear seats that can be folded or removed. It features GM's interior roof rail system, with an overhead console and accommodations for snap-in accessory options. Plastic wheels covers are standard on 17-inch steel wheels. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional ($3,000).

The Terraza CXL ($29,750) adds leather-trimmed seats with power adjustment for the front passenger and position memory for the driver, power rear doors, rear climate control, ultrasonic rear park assist, audio controls on the steering wheel, a rear cargo organizer, a 115-volt (house-current) power outlet in the rear cargo area, and a first aid kit. Alloy wheels are standard. Versatrak all-wheel drive is optional ($3,500).

The 240-hp 3.9-liter V6 ($500) is optional on both models.

Options for the Terraza CX include most of the features standard on the CXL, including the rear cargo area organizer ($285), rear air conditioning ($475), alloy wheels ($325), and a left-side power sliding door packaged with rear park assist ($545). Both trim levels are available with a remote starter ($190), six-CD changer ($295), XM Satellite Radio ($325), PhatNoise ($675), heated front seats ($275), and polished alloy wheels ($650).

Safety features that come standard on all models include ABS and traction control. Front-wheel-drive models come with GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The OnStar subscription includes Advanced Automatic Crash Notification, which sends crash data to participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment. Crash protection includes dual-stage front airbags. Side-impact airbags for first and second-row passengers are standard on Terraza CXL and optional on CX ($750). Terraza is not available with the head-protection airbags offered is some other minivans, but it scores well in government crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it five stars for a frontal impact, and four stars for side impact with the optional side airbags.


Buick calls the Terraza a crossover sport van, comparing its appearance to an SUV and highlighting design cues like its long hood, big grille, big wheels and blacked-out pillars. If you like the look, great, but don't fall for the SUV stuff.

Terraza looks like a minivan with a prominent snout, and in the functional sense it is a minivan, with minivan advantages such as low step-in and load lift heights compared to the typical SUV. Of course, with 5.5 inches of ground clearances, owners shouldn't expect SUV-style off-road performance, either. When equipped with all-wheel drive, Terraza is more like an all-weather family transport unit with some flair.

The big vertical-toothed grille and integrated headlamps emphasize Terraza's long nose. From there rearward, the Terraza is adorned only by a single strip of chrome on each side. The rear side windows are tinted dark, and the roof is decked with a chrome-railed roof rack. There are sliding rear doors on both sides, power-operated from the dash or key fob on the high-zoot CXL. Given Terraza's premium pretensions, it's odd that there is no power assist for the rear liftgate.

The most lasting impression after a Terraza walkaround? Perhaps the quality fit and finish. The seams on our test vehicle matched precisely and consistently, and the paint had a deep luster with very little orange-peel effect. It was among the best we've seen from GM and as good as any other minivan currently offered, including those known for their build quality.

The Terraza's outside mirrors fold tight against the side windows to help squeeze it into tight parking spots, and the beep-beep-beep of the rear park assist, standard on our CXL, is welcome in most urban parking situations.

We applaud GM's effort to make options for the physically challenged off-the-rack features. Terraza is available with a Sit-N-Lift power seat system ($4,795) that provides easy access to the right-hand second-row seating area. Operated via remote control, the power bucket seat rotates and then extends out of the vehicle before lowering near pavement level for easy entry and exit.

Interior Features

From the passenger space, the Terraza stacks up well against its minivan competition, bar none. Its interior is major improvement over any of GM's previous minivans.

Both finish and materials are almost surprisingly good, considering some of GM's efforts just a few years ago. Plastics in the Terraza are generally rich in touch and appearance. Some media have bashed the fake wood trim, but we find it as good as that from some luxury brands that cost considerably more. The forward seats in our Terraza CXL were upholstered in smooth, sturdy leather.

The black-and-white gauges are large, and trimmed with a nice chrome accent. The script is large, too, and sharply legible. The instrument panel, center console and door panels are well integrated, flowing nicely from one panel to the next. The design is straightforward, and nothing in here will confuse anyone for very long.

The center stack is particularly well done. Audio controls sit above the climate controls, as we like them, and the knobs are not only big, but pleasant to touch. There's a pair of pull-out cupholders and a swing-out storage bin at the bottom. There's also a folding utility table between the front seats with more cupholders and indents to keep phones or glasses handy without allowing them to slide off.

We like the Terraza's cabin, but it isn't perfect. The bins built into the back of the front seats are well designed, with secure storage for headsets and discs. Yet the plastic they're shaped from is hard, and they feel flimsy. And the view through the rear-view mirror is about as obstructed as a mainstream vehicle gets. It's noticeably restricted by the rear-seat headrests, with a relatively narrow scope.

Rear-seat DVD entertainment is standard, not a pricey option, and the system has three-mode operation, so the DVD, CD and radio can be played simultaneously through appropriate speakers and wireless headsets.

GM's PhatNoise removable hard drive remains unique in the auto industry. It snaps into Terraza's interior roof-rail system, where it's wired into the audio-video system. It removes easily and connects to any computer through a USB port. With 40 gigabytes of storage space, it can hold 40 full-length movies, video games, thousands of digital photos, up to 10,000 songs in MP3, WMA or WAV format, or any combination thereof. Voice browsing allows most songs and movies to be selected by name. All told, with a good foundation in the fundamentals and features like PhatNoise, Terraza has the conveniences that make family driving more pleasant. When it comes to passenger/cargo flexibility, Terraza does quite well, too.

The standard interior layout is familiar in minivans: four captain's chairs and a three-place rear bench. The second-row seats are as tall and supportive as those in front. They'll accommodate adults, not just kids, in real comfort. The third-row bench is no problem for passengers through age 15 or 16, even on long drives, though access is not the easiest. The pathway between the individual second-row seats is narrow. From the outboard side, there's a one-button mechanism that folds the second seatback forward and slides the entire seat toward the front. However, it doesn't make climbing in back much easier than walking between the second-row seats.

The third-row bench seat is split, and any or all of the seatbacks quickly fold forward, creating an expansive, essentially flat load floor from the driver's seat rearward. The rear seats can be removed without too much difficulty, but they don't tumble into the floor as they do in minivans from Chrysler, Ford, and Honda. With the seats in place, you get 27 cubic feet of cargo space, or a lot more than the trunk in a large sedan. With the third row folded you get 74 cubic feet, and with the rear seats removed you get 136 cubic feet. That's twice as much as what the full-size Cadillac Escalade SUV offers, but about

Driving Impressions

The Buick Terraza offers a soft, smooth ride and is best outfitted with the optional 3.9-liter V6. This engine generates 240 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, compared to 196 horsepower and 213 pound-feet for the standard 3.5-liter V6. That quickly, the optional engine lifts the Terraza from the low-end of the minivan power spectrum to somewhere near the top.

We've sampled the 3.9-liter V6 in other GM products, and it delivers a nice, broad power curve, with lots of acceleration-producing torque at all engine speeds. We'd also guess that in real-world driving, it will not produce a significant drop in Terraza's fuel mileage, compared to the standard 3.5-liter V6. The problem is that the 3.9 is only available in front-drive Terrazas. Until we can evaluate the new engine in this minivan, we can't offer snowbelt drivers a sound recommendation: all-wheel-drive, or front drive with the big V6.

Our hunch is that we'd take the bigger engine, even for places where the snow flies and the roads freeze. That's because that standard V6 is the weakest link in the Terraza package. If this Buick falls off compared to the best minivans, it's most obvious in the driving, and the single biggest reason is the engine.

The fundamental design of the cast-iron 3.5-liter V6 goes back decades, which doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. At interstate speeds the standard engine is quiet and relatively smooth. There's enough quick-burst acceleration for safe freeway merging or left turns during rush hour, and excellent transmission response helps take full advantage of the power that's available. GM makes some of the best automatic transmissions available anywhere. Terraza's has four speeds (compared to five in some competitors), but it responds quickly and appropriately to the driver's action on the gas pedal. It never hunts indecisively for the right gear, and shifts up or down as smooth as can be.

Given all that, the standard 3.5-liter V6 isn't likely to generate emotion of any sort, let alone a thrill. The numbers speak for themselves: Terraza's standard engine delivers less horsepower and torque than any in the class (except other GM minivans), and it's noticeable on the road. When it comes to high-rev power, smoothness or fuel economy, it can't match the overhead cam engines in some competitors, and it can't match the low-end grunt of cam-in-block engines in others. We recommend you test drive the 3.9-liter V6.

GM's VersaTrak fulltime all-wheel-drive system works very well in snow, slush and ice, and we heartily recommend it. VersaTrak's mechanicals are relatively simple, and add less weight to the vehicle than many all-wheel-drive systems. There are no buttons or levers to engage, yet in operation VersaTrak can do things some similar systems can't. When the Terraza's front wheels lose grip, the system automatically shifts engine power to the rear wheels, greatly improving the odds of continued forward mobility. Yet VersaTrak can also shift power from side to side between the rear wheels. If the inside wheel encounters slush build-up near the center of the road, VersaTrak sends power to the outside wheel with grip.
Front-wheel-drive Terrazas come standard with StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability system. This is valuable, too. Let's say a driver inadvertently drops the right-side wheels off the pavement and onto a gravel shoulder. The right-side wheels would tend to lose grip on the low-friction gravel. Without StabiliTrak, the left-side wheels would continue to grip as before, quite possibly directing the vehicle toward the center line or opposite lane. StabiliTrak senses the disparity in traction and intervenes by applying brakes to the outside wheels or cutting engine power. The electronics help prevent a sharp change in direction and help the driver to regain full control without overreacting or overcorrecting. In short, Sta


The Buick Terraza is quiet, orderly, generally understated, and very well equipped for the money. Even the base model comes with sought-after features like GM's OnStar system and rear-seat DVD entertainment. With optional all-wheel-drive, it offers the foul-weather security of an SUV, without many of the SUV drawbacks. Build quality is first rate, and the cost-feature ratio is appealing. Terraza is fairly easy to switch from passenger to cargo hauling, though it lacks the tumble-in seat storage made famous by Chrysler's minivans. The standard V6 is not abundantly powerful, so we recommend test driving the larger, upgrade engine.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
Model lineup:
Buick Terraza CX ($27,250); CXL ($31,190); CX AWD ($30,250); CXL AWD ($33,250)
196-hp 3.5-liter ohv 12-valve V6; 240-hp 3.9-liter ohv 12-valve V6
4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (Standard):
front airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, OnStar tele-aid system
Safety equipment (Optional):
side-impact airbags, all-wheel drive, rear park assist
Basic warranty:
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:
Doraville, Georgia
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
Buick Terraza CXL AWD ($33,250)
Standard equipment:
dual-zone climate control, leather seats with eight-way power adjustment in front and position memory for the driver, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player with eight speakers and steering wheel controls, DVD rear entertainment system, overhead modular storage system, cruise control, Driver Information Center, universal garage door transmitter, deluxe interior lighting, automatic headlamps, rear-window defogger, retained accessory power, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, sun visors with extensions, floor mats; auxiliary rear climate control, 115-volt power outlet in rear, cargo organizer, dual power sliding doors, aluminum alloy wheels
Options as tested:
XM Satellite Radio ($325); remote starting ($190); heated front seats ($275); polished aluminum wheels ($650)
Destination charge:
Gas Guzzler Tax:
Price as tested (MSRP)
all-wheel drive
3.5-liter ohv 12-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm):
196 @ 5600
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):
213 @ 3200
4-speed automatic overdrive
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:
17/23 mpg.
121.1 in.
205.0/72.0/72.0 in.
Track, f/r:
62.4/62.9 in.
Turning circle:
40.4 ft.
Seating capacity:
Head/hip/leg room, f:
39.8/59.9/39.9 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:
38.9/61.2/38.9 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r:
38.1/48.7/36.2 in.
Cargo volume:
136.5 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:
3500 lbs.
Suspension F:
Suspension R:
Ground clearance:
5.5 in.
Curb weight:
4664 lbs.
P225/60R17 Continental Touring
Brakes, f/r:
vented disc/vented disc with ABS in.
Fuel capacity:
25 gal.


New Nissan Xterra


Exterior Design
There are no excuses, as long as you’re outdoors. Xterra gets you there with serious off-road capabilities, a potent 261 horsepower engine and a versatile roof rack that’s often imitated but never equaled. You’ve got trails to tackle and
an Easy Clean® cargo area that just wipes down. It’s a whole new way to move through the world. Hop in
Roof Rack
Built out of burly, construction-grade aluminum, the roof rack has a capacity of up to 150 pounds.  Attach the available gear box to the rack and you can keep your wet and dirty stuff out of the cab. For those nighttime adventures, flip on the available off-road lights to help guide your way on even the darkest trails.
Rear side bumper steps
Bikes, boards, even boats… whatever it is you have up on the roof rack, bumper steps on each side of the tailgate make getting things on (or off) the rack a cinch.

2013 Nissan Quest

Carried over for 2013, the Nissan Quest is a seven passenger mini-van powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. FWD is paired with an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission to enable an EPA estimated 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Features include 13 speaker digital Bose? audio system, DVD entertainment system, two wireless headsets with remote control, XM? Satellite Radio, MP3/CD capability, speed-sensitive volume control, USB connection port for iPod? interface, streaming audio via Bluetooth? wireless technology and illuminated steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Safety is comprised of dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, roof-mounted curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), traction control system ((TCS) and vehicle dynamic control (VDC). The Quest is backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

What is it? The seventh-generation of Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback is slightly larger, yet lower and lighter than the outgoing model. VW says it’s also more aerodynamic and will get 15 percent better fuel economy.  The increased dimensions translate into 0.6 inches more rear legroom, a little more shoulder and elbow room front and rear, and more cargo space.
VW has mercifully dropped the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine in favor of a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 170 hp and 184 lbs.-ft. of torque. Transmission choices for this engine have not been specified. The Golf TDI gets an all-new 2.0-liter diesel engine that produces a little more power than before: 150-hp and 236 lbs.-ft. of torque. The GTI gets VW’s established 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo, now made in Mexico. Both the GTI and the TDI will be available with a choice of six-speed manual and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions. All Golfs get the limited-slip differential, previously optional in the old GTI.
What is new or notable? Infotainment systems include 3D navigation and a touch screen that uses swipe controls like a smart phone and has a proximity sensor that can detect when your hand is near. (Sounds clever, with shades of the tricky Cadillac CUE system.) And unlike other recent Volkswagens designed specifically for North America, Volkswagen promises this Golf will continue to have high-quality soft-touch plastics through out the interior.
CR’s take: With the possible exception of the proximity sensing touch-screen radio, this sounds like a thorough improvement on the practical Golf. The Golf has a lot going for it as a do-everything all-around car. It offers hatchback practicality, compact efficiency, and luxury car features for a relatively affordable price. Somehow, Americans remain hesitant to embrace a car form that is so popular in Europe.
When will it be available? Early 2014.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
2014-Toyota-Corolla-pr-sWhat is it? Toyota’s mainstay compact gets more aggressive and contemporary styling with its redesign, along with a four-inch longer wheelbase for an improved ride and increased interior room. Toyota says to expect highway fuel economy on the far side of the 40-mpg barrier, thanks to better aerodynamics and mechanical improvements including a new continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Four trim levels will be offered. L, LE, and S models are all powered by a 132-hp, 1.8-liter four cylinder engine matched with the CVT, which uses software to mimic the feel of a conventional transmission with seven separate ratios. A six-speed manual will also be available on base L and sporty S models. A new midlevel LE Eco model gets a 140-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, low rolling resistance tires, and other mpg boosting tricks to deliver that 40-mpg plus on the highway.
Inside, soft-touch surfaces and piano black trim highlight upgrades to a more refined interior that Toyota says will be both quieter and roomier than the outgoing model, with almost three inches added to the rear seating area. All models get eight standard airbags and Bluetooth connectivity, and optional features include touchscreen audio, push button start, a moon roof, and backup camera. Pricing has not been announced.
CR’s take: Excellent fuel economy and top-notch reliability have historically made the Corolla one of our top-Rated, if somewhat boring compact sedans. The new model looks like it has the potential to build on those strengths, in a more interesting package, but we wish the backup camera was standard. 

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage
What is it? This four-door, five-passenger hatchback marks Mitsubishi’s return to the subcompact market, and with it the revival of the Mirage model name.
Power is supplied by a 74-hp, 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual or a CVT.
Standard equipment will include seven airbags, keyless entry, a USB/iPod input, and automatic climate control. Upmarket models add Bluetooth and push-button ignition. A nav system with rear-view camera, parking assist, and LED interior illumination will be optional.
What's new or notable? Mitsubishi says that with the continuously variable transmission the Mirage will get 37 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined, although these are projected and not EPA-certified numbers.


What is it? The all-new Mazda3 sticks close to its established formula, with slight dimensional changes that promise more interior space, upgraded infotainment, efficient four-cylinder engines, and a weight reduction.
As before, available as a hatchback or sedan, the new 3 rides on a 2.4-inch longer wheelbase, and it is both lower and wider. The result is a claimed improvement in passenger space, especially in the back seat. Part of the gain in rear legroom is from a revamped seat design that carves mass from the front seats. Improvement there is welcome, given that the current 3’s rear seat is pretty snug.
What's new or notable? Mazda is focused on a “heads-up” approach to displaying driver information, with a clear panel above the instrument cluster to show vehicle speed, navigation directions, and other information. There is also a pop-up screen in the dash center for the infotainment system. That system connects to a smart phone via Bluetooth, enabling Internet-based functionality, such as Aha, Facebook and Twitter feeds (read aloud), and text messaging. The stereo provides the typical combination of AM/FM radio, Sirius satellite radio, and CD player, along with USB and auxiliary inputs. Hopefully this new system improves on some of Mazda’s recent mediocre electronic systems.
The engine lineup includes Mazda’s corporate 155-hp, 2.0-liter or the 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, both paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission and equipped with Mazda’s Skyactiv suite of technologies aimed at increased fuel economy.
These engines have provided decent power and miserly fuel consumption in our previous tests of the Mazda6 and CX-5. The redesigned Mazda 3 builds on this with regenerative brakes that can capture kinetic energy, store it in a capacitor, and improve gasoline consumption by supplementing the alternator to power accessories, thereby reducing parasitic drag.

Mazda’s Skyactiv philosophy also involves reducing vehicle weight to improve efficiency. That’s impressive, given that the Mazda3 was already a fairly light car. We just hope that despite the weight reduction, Mazda wasn’t stingy on noise isolation; recently tested Mazdas have all had high levels of road noise.

Unusual for the class, the Mazda3 will offer automatic high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, city brake support, and active cruise control.

CR’s take: At a glance, the 2014 Mazda3 looks both familiar and fresh. The outgoing model performed well in our testing, and it impressed our team with its balance of fun and efficiency. The new 3 builds on that, boasting increased interior space, intriguing display concepts, and better performance. Sounds good.

Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV
What is it? This electric version of the Honda Fit is powered by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery and coaxial electric motor derived from the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle. The EPA has officially rated the vehicle 132/105/118 city/highway/combined MPGe.
Efficiency is aided by a user-controlled, three-mode system like that used in the Honda CR-Z hybrid. Drivers can select Economy, Normal, or Sport to bolster efficiency or performance. Honda says the differences are an increase of 17 percent in driving range with the Economy mode over the Normal mode and 25 percent better than Sport mode. In Sport mode, the performance is adjusted for improved acceleration.
To help further conserve energy, a dashboard display can help the driver determine when to shut off accessories such as the air conditioning or radio to save electricity. Drivers will also be able to connect via a smart phone or computer to manage the vehicle’s energy use, though hopefully not when behind the wheel. A pocket remote also allows connectivity to the vehicle. With these tools, drivers will be able to check charge, start a charge, or activate air conditioning, as well as provide charging alerts to help with utility rates, a 24-hour roadside assistance, and a charging station locator.
The battery can be charged in 12 hours when using 120-volt outlet and around six hours with a 240-volt outlet.
When will it be available? The Fit EV will be available to consumers in California and Oregon this summer.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta
What is it? Ford freshens its smallest car for 2014, with interior and exterior updates and two new engines.
What’s new or notable? The big news is the availability of two Ecoboost turbocharged engines at either end of the spectrum. Efficiency-minded buyers may be interested in the optional 123-hp, 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, the smallest displacement automotive engine currently offered in the United States. Ford is claiming that it will have the best fuel economy of any non-hybrid, non-diesel car. The 1.0-liter engine launches with a manual transmission, but an automatic will be offered down the road.
At the other extreme, the Fiesta ST gets the full hot-hatch treatment with a 197-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four. Sporting upgrades included bigger wheels and tires, along with steering and suspension enhancements. Inside, Recaro sports seats are available.
Changes are less notable for the majority of Fiestas. There’s a new grille, spreading the Ford family styling cues, and the availability of the complicated MyFord Touch control system.
CR’s take: The Fiesta is a fun-to-drive and relatively refined small car, although options quickly drive up the price. For all of the news about engines, most Fiestas will continue to have a carryover 1.6-liter four-cylinder with lackluster performance but impressive fuel economy.
Making the 1.0-liter three-cylinder available initially with only a manual tranny will help the tiny engine’s performance and fuel economy, but will limit its appeal. Ford claims to have done a lot of work to make the three-cylinder refined; we’ll see how they did when we drive one. The Fiesta ST looks like a lot of fun to drive, but since the basic Fiesta tends to be on the expensive side anyway, we expect its price to crowd that of the larger, more powerful Focus ST.
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