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Bargains Go Green: Getting More For Less

by Brian Wong (Jun 14, 2011)

It's a tough time to be a new car shopper with rising gas prices, a lack of incentives, and fallout from the tragic earthquake/tsunami in Japan. However, it isn't all doom and gloom for new car buyers, as the crop of new cars for 2012 is sprinkled with a few gems that offer you a bargain at the showroom and at the pump as well.

Hyundai has been very busy updating its lineup, and for the 2012 model year they deliver two more cars that will get at least 40 mpg highway: the redesigned Accent and the brand-new three-door Veloster.

You read that right, three-doors. The all-new 2012 Hyundai Veloster is a sport coupe that adds an extra full-size door on the passenger side with the handle hidden in the C-pillar to give the car a more seamless look. Hyundai hasn't released official figures yet, but they are claiming the Veloster will get you about 40 mpg on the highway and our best guess on its starting price is around or below $20,000, both exciting developments.

The other car Hyundai has been working on for 2012 is the redesigned Accent sedan and five-door hatchback. For 2012, the Accent gets a brand new exterior and interior as well as more standard safety features. The Accent has been rated by the EPA to deliver best-in-class fuel economy figures of 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg highway, all in a car that starts at just $12,445. Once again, no typos, under $13,000 for a car that will seat five passengers and get you 40 mpg on the highway.

Not to be outdone by its Korean counterpart, Kia has given the Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback a complete makeover for 2012 as well and the diminutive sub-compact now features new exterior styling (you can see some Optima in the grill and headlights) and an engine with stop-start technology. The stop-start tech helps the Rio to get 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. Expect the base price to fall close to the Accent, around $13,000 for the sedan.

The 2012 Mazda3 also gets a mild refresh with some exciting news under the hood. The Mazda3 will be the first car in the US to feature Mazda's new SkyActiv engine technology, and the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit offers more power while being lighter than the current engine. It also bumps fuel economy all the way up to 40 mpg/highway from 33. The Mazda3 was already arguably the best driving car in the compact segment, and with better fuel economy and added horsepower, it makes the Mazda3 tough to beat.

Our last featured car is the 2012 Subaru Impreza. Typically as cars age, the operative word becomes "more," as in more length, more horsepower, and more weight. Well the Impreza defies convention, as the redesigned 2012 version is the same size, but sheds horsepower and weight (drops 110 pounds) in the name of fuel economy. The new Impreza becomes the most fuel efficient all-wheel drive car on the market, with 36 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in the city, a handy 33% increase in highway mpg over the 2011 model.

Not in the mood to wait for one of these models? This article highlights three other contenders (2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 2011 Hyundai Elantra, and the 2012 Ford Focus) that have already been released and also offer a great mix of fuel economy and affordability. And check out our Top 10 Fuel Efficient car list for other cars that will save you money on fuel.

If you're the market for a new fuel efficient car, these are the contenders to keep an eye on. And as always keep your other eye on for the latest car news, updates, and comparisons.

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