The Ford Fiesta is one of my all-time favorite cars ó and there are a lot of new features for the 2014 model.

With a base price starting at $14,000, the five-passenger, front-wheel drive subcompact is absolutely, positively one of the best rides on the road today.

There are so many good things to say about the Fiesta, I almost forgot to mention that itís the segment leader in fuel economy.

Available in sedan or hatchback body styles, perhaps the biggest news about the 2014 Fiesta is the availability of a new engine.

Not that thereís anything wrong with the base 1.6-liter dual overhead cam I-4 engine that delivers exceptional performance for a subcompact. Mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, it is an absolute blast to drive. †

Itís quick and responsive. The handling is extremely nimble ó Ford engineers nailed the steering and suspension system. From a driverís standpoint, the Fiesta feels more like a sports car than it does a subcompact with an EPA fuel economy rating of 29 mpg city, 39 mpg highway.

In addition to the standard engine, 2014 Fiesta buyers also have the option of a new 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine that delivers more power for its size than a Lamborghini Aventador. Delivering 123 horsepower and 148 lbs.-ft. torque, it is expected to achieve EPA certification of more than 40 mpg while achieving a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.

Later in the model year, Ford will also roll out the Fiesta ST, powered by a high-output variant of the 1.6-liter I-4. It is anticipated to deliver 197 horsepower and 202 lbs.-ft. torque.

Other trim levels in the Fiesta lineup include S, SE and Titanium.

Standard safety features on all Fiesta models include AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control; dual-stage front-row airbags; driver knee airbag; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; four-wheel anti-lock braking system; LATCH child seat anchor and tether system; tire pressure monitoring system; child-safety rear locks; anti-theft engine immobilizer and improved side-impact safety capabilities.

And even though the Fiesta is considered an entry-level vehicle, it is one of the most connected cars on the road when it comes to technology. The new Fiesta is available with the new MyFord Touch system with a 6.5-inch screen that features enhanced voice controls, providing drivers with even more options for navigations, communications and entertainment functions. It also features Ford Sync AppLink capabilities, which allows drivers to access and control smart phone apps with voice commands.

Without question, the Fiesta is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2014 Ford Fiesta

5-seat subcompact sedan or hatchback

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

S, SE, Titanium, ST

PRICE RANGE:

$14,000-$22,000

ENGINE:

1.6L I4 (120 hp/112 T)

1.6L I4 (197 hp/202 T)

1.0L I3 (123 hp/148 T)

TRANSMISSION:

5-speed manual

6-speed automatic

EPA: 29/26 mpg city, 39/35 mpg highway (1.6L/1.6L ST)

FUEL: Regular unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

Electronic stability control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 173.5/159.7 in. (sedan/hatchback)

WHEELBASE: 98 inches

WIDTH: 67.8 inches

HEIGHT: 58 inches

WEIGHT: 2537-2628 lbs.

TRACK: 57.7/57

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 12.4 gallons

TIRES: 15-, or 16-inch

CARGO: 12.8/14.9 cubic feet (sedan/hatchback).