The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is all about being connected, whether it's to your portable devices or to the winding road ahead. The Veloster channels the spirit of lightweight hatchbacks like the old Honda CR-X. It updates this classic formula with a full array of technology, comfort and performance features, all for a very attractive price. Here are five reasons why the 2012 Veloster is a great choice for budget-minded shoppers who want a little extra flavor.

1. Fully Wired
The Veloster may compete with basic economy cars, but it's anything but basic when it comes to the latest gadgets. A seven-inch touchscreen comes standard, as do Bluetooth, USB and iPod integration. If you have an iPhone, you can even play Pandora tunes through the speakers. We recommend the optional 450-watt audio system for superior sound quality.

2. Uniquely Styled
Hyundai wanted the Veloster to look like nothing else on the road, and we think the automaker has nailed it. Chiseled, sleek and sporty, the Veloster draws stares wherever it goes-in a good way. The interior looks great, too, with a sleek, flowing dashboard and snazzy accents. Who said hatchbacks aren't cool? The Veloster puts that myth to rest.

3. Room for a Crowd

The Veloster has three doors, and that's just enough. The unusual third door opens on the passenger's side, allowing normal back-seat entry-so there's no need to squeeze through the front door as in a coupe. You can even fit a couple of full-size adults back there if you need to. In fact, the Veloster has as much real-world room in back as some subcompact sedans.

4. Fun Plus Fuel Economy
The Veloster is hardly all show and no go. The steering is quick and direct, and although the 1.6-liter engine isn't a powerhouse, it's fun to put through its paces. We like the transmission options, too: a precise six-speed manual or a sophisticated dual-clutch automated manual with paddle shifters. And unlike some sporty rivals, the Veloster isn't just about performance-it can return an amazing 28 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

5. Amazingly Affordable
With a suggested retail price of just $17,300, the Veloster is an incredible value. There's just no other way to get this much style, performance and technology for such a modest sum. Even the basic Veloster comes with a ton of features, so you don't have to spend more for the good stuff. Still, we'd be very tempted by the available panoramic sunroof and color-keyed 18-inch wheels.

Can you imagine a world in which all economy cars were this cool? Hyundai wants to make it happen with the 2012 Veloster, and maybe someday its rivals will, too.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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