2012 Ford Focus
2012 Ford FocusEnlarge Photo
2012 Ford Focus – 8.8
Completely redesigned for 2012, the 2012 Ford Focus can include safety and technology features such as Active Park Assist, rearview camera, ambient lighting and Ford SYNC. Other safety and convenience features in the Focus include AdvanceTrac stability control, front and side airbags, keyless entry, cruise control, power outlets and heated front seats – all with a starting MSRP of $17,995 (including $495 destination charge). We named it our Best Car To Buy 2012--and our review says it all: “With the 2012 Focus, Ford shows us that small cars don’t have to feel so banal, with charismatic compacts that are more satisfying to drive, more luxurious, and better equipped.”
2012 Chevrolet Cruze
2012 Chevrolet Cruze – 8.2
An all-new design last year, the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan offers consumers a value-packed and feature-rich, safe vehicle that comes in at under $20,000 in all trims except LT with 2LT. Even the high-mileage (28 mpg city/42 mpg highway) Cruze Eco slides in under the $20K mark. Our review lauds the feature set of the Cruze, equal to that of a larger mid-size sedan (and just as roomy as many), as well as IIHS Top Safety Pick and overall five-star NHTSA safety ratings, due in part to the 10 standard airbags, OnStar with automatic crash response, and collapsible pedal system to help reduce risk of leg and ankle injuries in the event of a crash.
2012 Hyundai ElantraEnlarge Photo
2012 Hyundai Elantra – 8.2
Here’s what TCC editors have to say about the 2012 Hyundai Elantra: “The 2012 Hyundai Elantra has officially left the Civic and Corolla in the dust, thanks to a 40-mpg gas mileage rating, a sleek look, and tremendous value for the money.” There’s more, of course, in this review, but the bottom line is that the Elantra is one of the best compact sedans available today. Even the base GLS has power windows, locks, and mirrors, keyless entry and (on automatic models) air conditioning, cruise control and telescopic steering. Another IIHS Top Safety Pick, the Elantra with navigation system also comes with a rearview camera. The 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS (in all versions) slides in under $20,000. Only the Elantra Limited exceeds the $20K mark, beginning at $20,595, excluding destination charge.
2012 Kia SoulEnlarge Photo
2012 Kia Soul – 8.2
The 2012 Kia Soul is one tall hatchback wagon that offers more than just fuel efficiency. Other standout features include a back-up camera, dual 12-volt outlets, rear wiper-washer and cruise control. The Soul provides a versatile, spacious interior, thanks to its tall roofline, and fold-down rear seats that provide 53 cubic feet of cargo capacity. An extensive list of standard safety features (and an optional rearview camera), IIHS Top Safety Pick status, and the Soul is a “right-priced” wagon for about $20,000 for anyone “who needs a little more wagon in their lives, but could do without the size or weight of a bigger crossover or minivan.”
2012 Mazda Mazda3 SkyActivEnlarge Photo
2012 Mazda Mazda3 – 8.2
Long known for its fun-to-drive characteristics, the 2012 Mazda Mazda3 sports a new four-cylinder engine paired with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. To get this 155-horsepower engine delivering up to 40 mpg highway fuel economy, however, you’ll need to choose the Mazda3i Touring or Grand Touring sedan with automatic. Other pluses with the Mazda3 lineup include generous, supportive seats, a reasonably accommodating rear seat, a low-flat loading floor (with rear seats folded), an available blind-spot monitoring system and IIHS Top Safety Pick status. Get a surprisingly well-equipped Mazda3 for around $16K.
2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport GTS
2012 Suzuki Kizashi – 8.2
Consumers looking for a sophisticated, surprisingly well-equipped compact sporty sedan should definitely consider the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi. Although the brand may not have developed the cachet of other competing compact sedans, our review says it is “one of the best compact sedans on the market.” Nicely supportive bucket seats, richly-grained plastics and soft-touch padded surfaces make riding in the Kizashi pleasant. A strong list of standard features for the money includes keyless entry and dual-zone climate control. A navigation system, including rearview camera, real-time traffic and iPod controls, is a low-cost option. The base Suzuki Kizashi with manual transmission starts at $18,999, excluding destination charge.
2012 Subaru ImprezaEnlarge Photo
2012 Subaru Impreza – 7.8
The all-new 2012 Subaru Impreza compact sedan and hatchback models have, in the words of TCC editors, “higher gas mileage, more space inside, a nicer interior, and all-wheel drive standard,” making the Impreza “a newly compelling compact alternative.” Fuel economy with four-door manual is 34 mpg highway, while the four-door automatic delivers an estimated 36 mpg in the highway cycle. Pricing starts at $17,495 (sedan with manual gearbox) and $18,495 (sedan with automatic transmission), both excluding destination charge. Improved driver visibility, the addition of a seventh airbag, and new-for-2012 brake override control contribute to the Impreza’s continuing high safety marks, including an IIHS Top Safety Pick designation.