Hatchback: 2012 Ford Fiesta SES
Gas mileage: 29 mpg city/39 mpg highway
A fun car to drive, the 2012 Ford Fiesta puts some real pizzazz into the small hatchback segment. It uses a 120-horsepower, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, funneling power through a six-speed automatic tranny to turn its front wheels.
You can spend about $2,000 less for the Fiesta SE, but in addition to the SE's tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power mirrors, air conditioning and trip computer, the SES adds full power accessories, an upgraded audio system and Ford's voice-controlled SYNC system with Bluetooth.
Among Fiesta's safety features are seven air bags and stability control.
Fiesta's cabin is comfortable and upscale. With less cargo room than some on this list, hauling gobs of stuff is better accomplished by others. However, driver and passengers should get a kick out of its athletic handling.