2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback
2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Frank Rizzuti

Photo Gallery:
2011 Ford Fiesta

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a 2011 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback and experience Ford’s SYNC technology first hand.

SYNC is an in-car factory installed connectivity system which allows you to make and receive phone calls, control music and other vehicle functions by using simple voice commands. SYNC was first introduced in 2007 and was developed by Ford and Microsoft.

SYNC allows access to your phone, compatible MP3 player and USB devices. It can also generate vehicle health reports which provide vehicle diagnostics, maintenance and recall information as well as the capability of being connected directly to a 911 operator after an accident with air bag deployment. Other features that SYNC is capable of include audible text messages, turn-by-turn directions, traffic alerts and personalized information such as news, sports and weather alerts.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback
2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback
2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback. Click image to enlarge

The first step in using the system is to pair your Bluetooth enabled phone: push the “Phone” button located on the turn signal stalk and follow the on-screen directions. The SYNC system generates a special six digit PIN number which must be entered into your phone when prompted. Once the phone is paired the system downloaded my contact list. The whole process took less than five minutes and the pairing only had to be done once.

Placing calls can be done in a few different ways: voice command, direct input on the numeric keypad, or using the phones keypad. Voice command is activated by pushing the “Talk” button located on the turn signal stalk, which took me a few minutes to locate. Saying “Phone” followed by “Call ” and then specifying home, work, or cell. Another method is to speak the number aloud or direct input on the dash mounted keypad, which is speed dependant and won’t operate at speeds above five km/h.

Incoming calls will sound an audible ring tone and caller information, if available, will appear on the screen. To answer the call push the “Phone” button and the call will be transferred to hands-free. To ignore a call simply do nothing or to reject push and hold the “Phone” button.

2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback
2011 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback. Click image to enlarge

Voice commands worked very well and understood me first time. The display screen shows your phone’s signal strength, battery level and displays incoming caller’s names (if the caller is in your contact list). Personally I would have liked the screen to be angled toward the driver and a little closer. Connect time was almost instantaneous, callers said the quality of my voice was excellent, and incoming calls were loud and clear. The system also has the ability to responding to and read aloud text messages via Bluetooth. This, however, is a phone dependant feature and my phone (BlackBerry 8330) did not support it. Most of the controls are well laid out and easy to locate, except for the “Talk” button, which should have been located on the steering wheel.

Next, I tried the capability of various music input methods. The system includes a USB port as well as a line-in jack. First, I tried an iPod connected to the USB port. Sync creates a music index for your entire music library which allows access to your songs. Using the “Voice” button and saying “USB” the SYNC system grants access to your iPod. Saying commands such as “Play all” or “Shuffle” or “Play track ” and the system starts playing. A USB memory stick was also accessed in a similar manner. The line-in jack will accept inputs from non-USB devices such as phones, portable DVD players and MP3 devices. The USB port also charges USB equipment. One other method of playing music is streaming via Bluetooth. If your phone or MP3 player is Bluetooth capable this was one of the easiest methods. No need to fumble with cables and surprisingly there is no loss of audio quality. In fact, all sources of music, including CD playback had very good audio quality.

In my opinion, the SYNC system is one of the most advanced in-car entertainment solutions available in any vehicle today. However, some of the more advanced features are available only in certain vehicles and are currently being supported only in the United States.

SYNC is standard equipment in the 2011 Fiesta SEL Sedan and the SES Hatchback.

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