Ford Fiesta ST Long Term Ownership Review: 4 Years and 130,000 Miles
The Ford Fiesta ST is a remarkable little hot hatch with critical acclaim for its spirited handling performance. Just a hair over four years ago, I purchased a used Fiesta ST with only 16,000 miles on it. Little did it know it was about to be put through the wringer. With a handful of bumps, scratches, rear-end accidents, a deer strike, and more road trips than I can remember, my little Fiesta that could now sits with 147,000 miles on the clock for an average of 32,500 miles per year under my ownership. From a distance, it looks pretty dang good for its mileage. However, a closer gander at the finer details will fill you in on why I refer to this car as my “work truck.”
How did you put that many miles on this thing?
When I first bought this car, it was a big moment for me. It was my first newer car purchase. Purchasing a car that was only two years old was a symbol of me having made it. Admittedly, that was a bit unearned, considering I delivered for Jimmy Johns at the time.
Therein is the first source of this absurd mileage. For the first year and a half of my ownership, I used the Fiesta ST to deliver Jimmy John’s sandwiches. Of course, the turbo certainly helped with the “freaky fast” promise.
In addition, I used this car for Lyft for a while, I drove full-time for Doordash with it throughout the year 2020, and I routinely take it between my home in Boise, Idaho to southern California, Las Vegas, the Pacific Northwest, and Kansas for everything from SEMA to high power rocket launches.
In essence, a good majority of my life over the past four years has been spent behind the wheel of my Fiesta ST. So, I think I’m decently qualified to tell you the good and bad associated with owning one.
Let’s start with the good.
Fiesta ST handling, fuel economy, and affordability make for unlimited smiles per gallon
However, in terms of an affordable daily driver, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of fun and feasible than a Fiesta ST for the price point. This mighty little hatch’s go-kart-like handling, rev-happy engine, and precise and direct cornering feel make anyone feel like a driving hero. However, it still has enough cargo space to transport plenty of cargo—for example, an entire Nissan CD009 transmission or a 12-foot-long model rocket. Ask me how I know!
Sure, one could argue that something like an ND Miata or used FR-S or BRZ give a far better sports car experience. You won’t be piling three friends into any of those for a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip, though.
The Fiesta ST’s fuel economy is almost disrespectfully good. I’ll be honest; I drive mine like a grandma about 95 percent of the time. So, my average fuel economy stays in the 30+ mpg range. On a road trip to San Diego, where I was being reserved and trying to get the best fuel economy I could, I managed a trip average of 37 mpg.
2016 and newer models also feature Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system, so you’ve got Android Auto and Apple Carplay at the ready. This is truly a godsend for someone who drives as much as I do.
It isn’t all peaches and cream, though.
The Fiesta ST does have a few problems
First and foremost is the blend door actuator failure. Yes, it’s real, and yes, it happened the moment my warranty expired. Is it a big issue? No. Is it annoying to hear the dashboard click for 20 seconds every time I switch from defrost to dash vents? Absolutely.
The blend door actuator isn’t the only interior shortcoming, though. The other is, well, all of it. The interior of this car is like a bad joke. They made the rest of the car so unbelievably good just to let it down with cheap, flimsy plastic parts and scratchy cloth upholstery. The whole dash wiggles around the infotainment screen and a metal wire (part of a spring?) in the driver’s seat poked through at around 30,000 miles. I suppose Ford had to cut costs somewhere to keep them affordable, right?
Next is torque vectoring. This is Ford’s solution to balancing power between the drive wheels on unfavorable road surfaces. When one wheel slips, it sends power to the other. The issue is that it does this by applying the brakes to the slipping wheel. If you do any sort of spirited driving in this car, which I’ve been known to do from time to time, you can kiss your front brakes goodbye. I’ve done the front pads and rotors three times in my ownership, but I’ve only had to do the rears once.
Finally, Fiesta STs are known to have overheating issues. However, I seem to have gotten lucky and dodged that bullet. Even in driving through Death Valley in the summer, my ST took it like a champ.
If you find a good deal on one, buy it. You won’t regret it.
Sure, the above issues are annoying. Additionally, others may complain about the limited size and legroom or the rough ride quality. However, if you’re buying a sporty car, you have to expect a less than luxurious ride quality. Additionally, I don’t think I need to delve into the issues with complaining about the size of something described as “compact.”
Ultimately, though, the Fiesta ST is a phenomenally fun car. After four years of ownership and an uncountable amount of hours behind the wheel, I’ve certainly thought about selling it. But when I do, I land on the fact that I have no idea what I would get to replace it. Nothing else comes to mind at this price point that delivers the same fun, fuel efficiency, and usability that the mighty little Fiesta ST does.
In that case, here’s to another 130,000 miles!