The votes are in and the editors and writers at Autobytel.com have chosen the 2012 Hyundai Veloster as the 2012 Autobytel.com Car of the Year. It's no surprise that this new subcompact competitor has attracted so much attention across the entire industry. Once again Hyundai has managed to exceed expectations in terms of quality and value in the affordable car segment. The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is not the least expensive model in the brand's lineup but with a starting price of well under $20,000 the vehicle is within the reach of the vast majority of new car buyers. Match that up with the Veloster's unique styling, solid practicality and lofty fuel economy rating and you have all the makings of Autobytel's 2012 Car of the Year winner.
At first glance, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster's "fluidic sculpture" styling language appears to have been applied to a traditional hatchback template. Closer inspection, however, reveals that this 2012 Car of the Year stands apart from the rest of the crowd due to an unusual three-door design that offers one long driver's side entrance and two smaller passenger side access points in order to maximize the vehicle's practicality while still maintaining its sloped-roof, sporty look. A neatly disguised rear door handle preserves the Veloster's coupe-like profile, and combined with the vehicle's sport bike-inspired cues it creates an overall package that is far more visually exciting than one would expect from an affordable car.
Scratch underneath the surface of the Hyundai Veloster and our Car of the Year 2012 pick has a lot more to offer than just another pretty face. The Korean automaker has made sure that the Veloster delivers impressive fuel economy thanks to the inclusion of a 1.6-liter, direct injection four-cylinder engine. The EPA rates the 2012 Hyundai Veloster at 28-mpg in city driving and 40-mpg on the highway – numbers that are good enough to best more expensive hybrids like the Honda CR-Z coupe during freeway cruising as well as match premium hatchbacks like the MINI Cooper around town.
In between infrequent fill-ups, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster offers competent acceleration due to the 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque produced by its four-cylinder motor. 60-mph arrives in roughly 8.5 seconds from a standing start, Hyundai provides two different transmission options with the Veloster: a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic (the latter of which is responsible for the hatchback's lofty fuel economy). The automaker has stressed that the Veloster was never intended to fill a sporty niche, but it’s chassis and suspension setup are certainly not dull to drive. This is especially true when comparing the Hyundai against a few of its similarly-priced competitors.
In typical Hyundai fashion, the Veloster is brimming with standard equipment. In fact, you can only order the Autobyel 2012 Car of the Year in a single trim level which offers Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a seven-inch LCD touchscreen that acts both a multimedia controller and the interface for the Veloster’s Blue Link telematics system. Blue Link is a multi-tiered subscription service that comes with features such as remote door unlocking, automatic crash notification, location and immobilization of a stolen vehicle and a fair amount of integration with online services such as Facebook.
The Veloster can be further customized with the addition of a panoramic sunroof, a number of interior and exterior trim upgrades (to add a touch of sportiness to its already sleek appearance) and a navigation system.
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster’s quiet and comfortable interior, snazzy styling and fuel-sipping habits mesh perfectly with its bargain pricing and extensive list of standard gear to create, in our opinion, the most appealing automobile to have been introduced in the past year. This is one Car of the Year that doesn’t need to rely on gaudy horsepower numbers or a leather-swathed interior to turn heads. Instead, the Veloster leverages its ability to shine in the kind of real-world categories that most drivers can appreciate every single day. Hyundai has followed through on its promise to build an affordable car to a standard, and not a price – a design philosophy that is worthy of recognition as the Autobytel 2012 Car of the Year.
The editorial staff of Autobytel has chosen the 2012 Hyundai Veloster as the best of what we have seen for 2012, and while there are many others that probably deserve some kudos as well, we'd love to hear which you would choose for yourself.
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