The 2012 Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent receive high ratings in road tests from Consumer Reports because they show “improvements in performance, equipment levels, and comfort.” The organization applauds these three all-new or redesigned affordable small cars because they break the stereotype that subcompact cars are cheap vehicles with uncomfortable rides and poor performance.

The 2012 Kia Rio sedan receives the highest scores “thanks to nimble handling and a well-equipped cabin,” Consumer Reports says. Consumer Reports gives the hatchback model a lower score, but doesn't specify why. Consumer Reports likes the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic for its good performance, though the organization is disappointed with the Sonic’s low fuel economy ratings and expensive LTZ model. They think the Sonic LTZ with a turbocharged engine is expensive and is not very sporty.

Like the Kia Rio, the 2012 Hyundai Accent was completely redesigned for the 2012 model year, and both the GLS sedan and SE hatchback receive good scores because they are value-oriented forms of basic transportation.  

“The one redesign that failed to impress the test drivers was the 2012 Nissan Versa sedan,” says CBS MoneyWatch. “The Versa dropped from the top of the rankings last year to the bottom with the new model. Toyota Yaris also continued its perennially low score in these subcompact tests.” Consumer Reports flagged the Versa sedan for a poor redesign. They disliked its loud engine, average performance and “rudimentary” interior. Overall, Consumer Reports prefers the 2011 Versa. The Yaris received low scores for similar reasons. The Yaris’ interior is made with cheap plastics, its ride isn’t smooth, it accelerates slowly and its handling is not agile.

With more standard interior and safety features, improved performance and comfortable cabins, Consumer Reports says subcompact cars like the 2012 Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent are smart picks for shoppers who want a small car with a low base price, good fuel economy and enough engine power to get them through daily commutes.

The 2012 Rio, Sonic and Accent are available in sedan and hatchback body styles. The Accent sedan starts at $12,545, the Rio sedan has a base price of $13,400 and the Sonic sedan starts at $13,865.

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