Mini Roadster

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a clear choice if you are looking for an affordable two-seat convertible. It is the cheapest two-seat convertible you can buy as a 2012 model with a starting price under $25,000 and has been highly regarded since it debuted more than 20 years ago for the driving experience it provides.

After the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky ended their brief runs after the 2009 model year, the MX-5 Miata was the only model of this type available in its price range. It has no direct competition. However, this is about to change as the Mini Roadster will go on sale in North America in mid-2012.

A True Convertible

Mini already offers a convertible offering for the four-seat Cooper. It is a fully automatic soft-top that retracts in just 15 seconds. The soft-top also has a built in sun roof. The Cooper convertible starts at an MSRP of $25,650 offering Mini’s 1.6-liter 121 horsepower base engine.

The convertible is also available in the Cooper S trim,with the turbocharged 181 horsepower engine, and the John Cooper Works trim, which gets 208 horsepower out of its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What separates the new Mini Roadster is that it is a true two-seat convertible. The concept of the model was first shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show and the model is set to make its formal debut at the January 2012 Detroit auto show.

MINI auf der IAA 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche

Engine and Power

The Mini Roadster will feature the same engines as the Cooper. The base model with the 121 horsepower engine is expected to start at about $24,000, which is comparable to the MX-5 Miata. However, the Mazda offers a 2.0-liter 167 horsepower engine and a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. The base Mini Roadster will be significantly slower but should offer very crisp, agile handling.

To have superior acceleration, buyers will need to step up the Mini Roadster S or Mini Roadster John Cooper Works. However, the Roadster S will likely start at a price near $30,000.

Differences Between the Cooper Convertible

Mini began offering the Mini Coupe for the 2012 model year. It is a two-seater with a trunk, unlike other Cooper models that have a hatchback. The Roadster will essentially be the convertible version of the Coupe. The Roadster will have stainless-steel rollover bars, a more steeply raked windshield, and have a roof height 0.9 inches lower than the Cooper convertible.

The Roadster will also have a manual soft-top, with a center-mounted latch on the windshield header. However, raising the roof is made easier by a push button that activates pneumatic springs to hasten the time it takes to put the roof in place. Unlike the Cooper convertible, which comes in three different colors and racing stripes, the Roadster will only be offered with a black top.

MINI Cooper Cabrio * MIautumn
Creative Commons License photo credit: jiazi

Advantages and Disadvantages the MX-5 Miata

The Mini Roadster has several advantages over the MX-5 Miata. One clear edge is in trunk space. The Roadster has 8.5 cubic feet compared to just 5.3 cubic feet for the Mazda. It also offers an optional six-speed automatic transmission whereas the Mazda has just a five-speed automatic transmission.

While fuel economy has not yet been announced, the Mini Coupe S has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway, which is about 20% better than the Mazda. The 2012 MX-5 Miata has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.

The Roadster’s disadvantages to the MX-5 Miata are topped by the fact that it offers significantly less power at a comparable price. It also does not offer a power top, unlike the MX-5 Miata, which has retractable top trim lines. Learn more about affordable new convertibles in our Cheap Convertibles article.

Originally posted 2011-10-31 22:53:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Hyundai Accent

The 2012 Hyundai Accent is an all-new generation of the model from the Korean automaker that is already on sale. Hyundai has made significant improvement for its subcompact for the 2012 model year. However, with improvements come a higher price. No longer is the Accent just a low cost play, it is now a value play.

Where as in 2011, the Accent had a starting MSRP of $9,985, making it the cheapest 2011 new car, the 2012 Accent starts at $12,445 for the GLS 4-door sedan. Two other trims are offered GS and SE, with both being 5-door hatchbacks. The top end SE has a starting MSRP of $15,795. It comes standard with power door locks, power windows, CD player, and air conditioning. The Accent is no longer offered as a 3-door hatchback.

2012 Hyundai Accent (USA)
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB
2012 Hyundai Accent (USA)
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB

With respect to exterior styling, the 2012 Accent adopts the company’s “fluidic sculpture” design theme. The Accent’s aerodynamic, distinctive styling now more closely resembles its corporate siblings: the Elantra and Sonata. On the inside, the Accept now offers best-in-class front and rear shoulder room and in hatchback from, it has best-in-class cargo volume, even larger than the Infiniti EX35.

Where the Accent has really stepped up is in its engine and transmissions. The 2012 model now offers the most powerful standard engine in the subcompact class. The engine is a 1.8-liter direct injection four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower.

The 2012 Accent’s engine has 28 more horsepower than the 2011 model, making it 25% more powerful. In a horsepower comparison, its key competitors such as the Ford Fiesta (119 horsepower) and Honda Fit (117 horsepower) offer significantly less. Expect the Accent to have a 0-60 time under nine seconds, making it among the fastest in its class.

The Accent comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission with a six-speed automatic option on all trim lines. This efficient combination gives the Accent EPA rated fuel economy of 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.

2012 Hyundai Accent (USA)
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB
2012 Hyundai Accent (USA)
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB

The Accent now offers great standard safety features such as ABS, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), and driver, passenger, and side airbags. The 2011 model did not even offer traction control or ESC. Due to its importance in preventing accidents, U.S. law requires all news cars to have standard ESC for 2012.

Similar to the Accent, the Kia Rio (Hyundai owns Kia), Kia Rio5, and Kia Soul see many improvements for 2012. To learn more about the 2012 Accent and see more pictures, check out Hyundia’s official website.

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Originally posted 2011-06-19 05:40:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Fiat 500 Safety

The Fiat 500 is one of the smallest cars on the roads, which causes many to wonder about Fiat 500 safety. The model received a big vote of support for its safety when it was awarded a “Top Safety Pick” designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Thus far, the 500 and the Ford Fiesta are the only 2012 “mini-car” models to receive the award.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when the 500 received only a three-star rating recently from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This has called Fiat 500 safety into question. Five-stars is the top rating. The only other models to receive three-star ratings are the outgoing Ford Escape and Dodge Caliber.

Fiat 500 ferrari edition
Creative Commons License photo credit: StreetcarsL

What the NHTSA Tests

The NHTSA puts car models through a battery of tests to determine their safety rating. They test frontal, side crash, and rollover strength. The 500 got a four-star rating on both frontal and rollover but fared poorly in the side crash, receiving only two out of five stars. Overall the Fiat 500 safety rating was three-stars.

Below see how the Fiat 500 fared back in 2007 in a crash test with the much larger Audi Q7.

Originally posted 2011-12-09 01:07:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Toyota Yaris

The 2012 Toyota Yaris is a refreshed version of this subcompact model. While the model has many changes for 2012 perhaps the biggest change is that the sedan is no longer offered. With the growing sales of hatchbacks and their greater cargo capacity, Toyota has decided to refocus the Yaris as a hatchback only.

The Yaris comes in thee primary trim lines: L, LE, and SE. The SE trim is offered as a five-door only and has 16” alloy wheels. The L and LE offered three door trims. USB, Bluetooth, and auxiliary connections are standard.

2012 Changes

The 2012 Yaris has a sharper exterior with new front and rear fascias and new headlights and taillights. While the 2009-2011 Yaris had an awkward appearance, the 2012 Yaris looks a bit sportier, more along the lines of the new Hyundai Accent hatchback. The model’s height has been lowered by 0.6” inches to improve handling and balance.

The 2012 Yaris has a new instrument panel and redesigned thee-spoke steering wheel. The wheelbase grows by 1.9” allowing for greater interior room. Cargo room increases by an impressive 25% over the 2011 model. The Yaris also offers an impressive nine airbags standard.

Engine & Fuel Economy

Toyota seems to be going the way of Honda and making only modest engine changes. The model still has a 1.5-liter 106 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

The Yaris also retains its antiquated four-speed automatic transmission option (a five-speed manual is standard) while several of its competitors offer six-speed transmissions. Toyota has made the engine lighter and extracted more fuel economy in the Yaris.

The 2012 Yaris’ fuel economy improves to 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway with the manual and 30/35 with the automatic, which is comparable to the Honda Fit and Mazda Mazda2. According to Motor Trend, the 2012 Yaris SE has a 0-60 time of 9.1 seconds with the manual.


The 2012 Toyota Yaris has a starting MSRP of $14,115 with the 3-door L model. The top line Yaris 5-Door SE with the four-speed automatic starts at $17,200. The 2012 Yaris is on sale now.

Originally posted 2011-12-05 01:19:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

How to Buy Used Cars

We usually focus on smaller new cars on this blog, but for those on a budget or just looking to save on vehicle costs, used cars can be the way to go. However, when buying a used car, buyers need to carefully inspect the vehicle and spend more time investigating its history and condition than they would a new car.

Instead of writing a lengthy post providing tips on how to buy used cars, we are providing this infographic below courtesy of our friends at While this infographic was prepared for a British audience, these tips are global in nature.

used car infographic

Originally posted 2012-05-09 09:58:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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