Car manufacturers have another reason to watch out for Hyundai. The Korean brand has developed its image in the marketplace, and its efforts are paying off. Long known as just another cheap Korean car, Hyundai's reputation has been improved thanks to a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty, great gas mileage for many of its models and a price lower than many of its competitors. Last month's United States subcompact sales figures proved Hyundai the clear winner.

In July, Hyundai's subcompact model, the all-new 2012 Accent (base price $14,195) outsold eight competitor's models in the subcompact market, including the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, and Nissan Versa. Hyundai sold 6,938 Accent models in July 2011. Nissan's Versa and Ford's Fiesta sold less than 5,500 models each. Honda sold even fewer Fit models; a mere 4,857 models were sold in the United States.

The all-new 2012 Hyundai Accent is equipped with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. The Accent averages 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway, thanks to Hyundai's Gasoline Direct Injection technology. Hyundai offers four models that average 40-mpg on the highway, including the Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, and all new Veloster, arriving this month.

The Honda Fit has a slightly higher base price ($15,100) and a lower gas mileage at only 31-mpg highway. The Fit is also only available in a five-door hatchback trim, while the Accent is available with both hatchback and traditional sedan trim options. Ford's Fiesta is comparable in price to the Fit, but offers gas mileage closer to the Accent, averaging between 38-40 mpg on the highway. Although the Fiesta is also available in hatchback and sedan trims, it is a relatively new player in the American subcompact market. American shoppers may eventually embrace the Fiesta the same way European car buyers have for over three decades, but for now, people seem to prefer the tried-and-true Hyundai Accent.

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Cliff Turner has been an automotive enthusiast ever since high school, where he developed a passion for cars while working for the local Saturn/Hummer dealership. When he isn't writing, he is busy earning his Juris Doctorate at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.

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