With small cars expanding their share of a flat U.S. market, the 2011 Ford Fiesta is a very important car for Ford. Designed and engineered in Europe, where it earns rave reviews, it's got edgy, dynamic styling and a very high level of equipment for a subcompact.

Ford can only hope those features will make the Fiesta a competitor in a segment now dominated by the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Nissan Versa. But the Blue Oval has an ace up its sleeve. The 2011 Ford Fiesta has a projected highway fuel economy of 40 mpg, besting most of its rivals.

Under the hood sits a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with an estimated 119 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. Customers will be able to pick from a 5-speed manual transmission or an advanced PowerShift 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta

When equipped with the manual, the 2600-pound 2011 Ford Fiesta returns a fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg highway. Opt for the automatic and you get an even better 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. A special SFE package bumps the highway fuel economy up to 40 mpg.

For handling, the Fiesta gets specially tuned front struts, bushings, dampers, stabilizer bars and a rear twist-beam axle. Further aiding the handling is an electronic steering system that also helps conserve fuel.

Inside, the Fiesta's center stack is modeled after a mobile-phone keypad, with angled keys plus controls for the sound system, heating, cooling, and ventilation. Drivers can choose among seven "mood lighting" colors, and upholstery on higher trim levels isn't limited to black, but offers hues like plum and cashmere.

2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta can be ordered in four trim levels: base, SE, SES Sport, and SEL, and a large number of packages and options offer a huge degree of customization.

[Ford]

2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta