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With the 2012 Focus, Ford shows that small cars don't have to feel so banal, with charismatic compacts that are more satisfying to drive, more luxurious, and better-equipped.
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer family has a little more panache than most compacts, but it's missing some of the finer details.
The 2012 Toyota Prius C takes full advantage of the other Prius models' hybrid system, but it's smaller, leaner and--perhaps most importantly--more affordable.
Crisply restyled, with higher gas mileage, more space inside, a nicer interior, and all-wheel drive standard, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is a newly compelling compact alternative.
The 2012 Hyundai Veloster starts with niche appeal, but its impressive handling and strong, high-value feature set should play well to the mainstream.