2014 Ford Fiesta Titanium Sedan
Power: 120 hp, 120 lb-ft.
Engine: 1.6L 16-valve Duratec® I-4
Fuel Consumption: 32 combined MPG
Starting price: $18,300

When the Fiesta was brought back to America for the first time since 1980, Ford had to make sure that this little hatch wasn't going to be a snoozer. It had to be peppy and it couldn't look like some dinky thing that could literally and figuratively be kicked to the curb. For the most part, it succeeded. 

Check our archives. In 2011, we noted “The Fiesta is a nimble little car that inspires confidence when taking corners at speed.” Two years later, we said the Fiesta “is a subcompact with character and proof positive that maximum fun can be pulled from even the smallest vehicles on American roads.” Then, last December, we labeled the Fiesta ST one of 2013's best cars. It’s no secret that at Complex HQ, the Fiesta is favored.

There’s one negative though. The car hasn’t been particularly handsome. 

For the 2014 model year, Ford’s made a change. A new, Fusion-following grille, gives the Fiesta an upscale character to match an ambitious personality. The ST gave the Fiesta the equipment it deserved. America had a true hot hatch. Tony and the rest of the Complex Rides team celebrated. I set out to see how the all-new Fiesta Titanium Sedan stacked up to the hatchback heat. With leather seats (heated!), ambient lighting, and a Sony audio system, the Fiesta Titanium sedan is neatly equipped for its sub-$20k sticker price. It’s got two USB plug-in points too—a huge plus for road trips as it facilitates toggling between two iPods, which is an important point, mainly as it highlights a major improvement to Ford’s SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment center. A lot of tech is packed in a small center stack, and all of it (from directions to music) is accessed easily. Driving with friends and listening to music, is fun. When it comes to long-standing associations about the Fiesta, the Titanium Sedan kept tradition alive.

From a pure driving perspective, however, there’s less excitement. The car turns out the same 120 hp, and has the same 98-inch wheelbase as the 2013 SE Hatch, but it doesn’t inspire the same “WOO-HOO” investigation of handling. No slight, just a subjective reaction to sitting behind the wheel. Ultimately, 2014 offers little improvement to 2013 in road feel.

The difference is in perception. It comes from a leather interior. It comes from the new front fascia. And, it comes from updated technology. The Ford Fiesta is growing into its proposed image—fun, small cars that inspire Americans to consider fun, small cars. With the Titanium Sedan, the Fiesta sells the big car, small package idea best. All the points above are key to the success of that notion, as is the fresh styling. Gone is the formerly frumpy stance. Instead, there is a degree of posh curb appeal that inspires confidence in the design that matches the self-assured ride.

In Titanium Sedan form, the Fiesta proves that fun isn't afraid to show a little sophistication.

Bottom line: Ford continues to improve the Fiesta line, which remains the top-choice for American subcompacts.