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Test-drive reviews by NITISH S. RELE,

The 2012 TL receives a freshening, which we can only help but praise to the skies. Acura has revised the previous massive grille to make it more likeable. The front bumper of the midsize luxury sedan has been redesigned. And the projector-style HID headlights, LED tail lamps and turn signals get updated. Also, the integrated fog lamp design is new. These changes and more make for an even more pleasing-to-the-eye design.

Of course, the TL retains the competent 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which puts out 305 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 273 pounds-feet of torque at 5000 rpm. But we were thrilled that the wanting 5-speed automatic transmission has been replaced with a 6-speed. Suspension is handled ably by a double wishbone front and a multilink rear system. The Electric Power Steering, which doesn’t need any hoses or pumps, translates into fuel savings. Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) distributes power not just between the front and rear wheels but also the left and right rear wheels.

Our test-drive vehicle came with two packages: Tech fetches a navigation system with voice recognition and rearview camera, real-time traffic and weather, Acura/ELS sound system with 10 speakers, 60 music hard drive (up from the former 45 GB), push-button ignition and keyless access entry. Advance, an all-new option for 2012, comes with blind-spot alert, heated and cooled front seats and larger 19-inch alloy tires.

The interior is sumptuous with 10-way power driver and eight-way front-passenger seats, multi-information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, power moon roof, rear-passenger vent controls and LED backlit gauges.

No doubt, the high-tech and classy AWD TL is a blast to drive under virtually any road or weather conditions. The 2012 model even boasts 1 mpg improved fuel figures than its predecessor. We do hope that Acura will simplify the complex audio, climate and navigation controls at a later date. And with a base price of $45,085 for our test-drive version, one wonders if there is any room left for the flagship RL. But that’s a different story for a different day.

Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 194 inches
Weight: 4,001 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
City: 18 mpg
Highway: 26 mpg
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Hyundai is on the move once again. What’s new? This time, its entry-level and fourth-generation 2012 Accent has been redesigned and gains extra power. Available as a four-door base GLS or five-door mid-level GS and sporty SE, the 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine develops 138 horsepower (up by 28 from its predecessor) @ 6300 rpm and 123 pounds-feet of torque @ 4850 rpm. An all-new 6-speed manual or automatic transmission replaces the 5-speed manual and four-speed auto. And all the trims are fitted with the Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) for enhanced fuel economy and lower emissions. With 30 mpg in city and 40 mpg on highway EPA estimates, you can travel 456 miles on a tank in the front-wheel-drive ride.

The steel unibody Accent, which competes with the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta and Mazda2, also is 3.5 inches more in overall length, 2.8 inches in wheelbase and 0.2 inch width. Up front, the traditional hexagonal chrome grille is flanked by sweptback headlights and sculpted hood creases while the rear sports wraparound tail lamps and body-color garnish.

The base GLS model comes with standard tilt steering wheel, trip computer, height-adjustable driver’s seat, air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors and USB port. Best of all is the roominess the car offers: 103.4 cubic feet of interior volume and 21.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which is far more than you would find in some bigger-sized vehicles.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake assist, stability and traction control systems, front and rear crumple zones and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Pricing starts at $12,445 and goes up to $16,795. As you can see, the Accent is great value for the money. It is practical, comfortable, roomy and safe for a new driver in the family. And if you still have any doubt, remember Hyundai’s outstanding five-year, 60,000-mile basic, and 10-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty.

101.2 inches
Length: 162 inches
Tires: P195/50HR16
Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut front; torsion axle rear
Steering: Rack-and-pinion power steering
Fuel capacity: 11.4 gallons
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Look out, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac! The Hyundai Genesis, which debuted in 2009, has been refreshed for next year. The luxury sport sedan is now offered in three trims: the 3.8-liter V-6 pumps out 333 horsepower (up by 43 hp and with direct injection added); 4.6-liter V-8 holds at 385 hp; and the all-new 5.0-liter R-Spec cranks out 429 hp @ 6400 rpm, making it the highest performing and most powerful Hyundai engine. Also, the previous 6-speed automatic transmission has been substituted with an 8 speed in the rear-wheel-drive car.

Hyundai continues with the dependable independent five-link front and rear suspension system, which handles sudden turns and corners effortlessly. A rack-and-pinion is standard on the 3.8 trim while the 4.6 and 5.0 are equipped with an electro-hydraulic power steering.

An even more aggressive chrome grille and front bumper, along with restyled headlights and LED accents, and taillights, greets the curious onlooker. However, the R-Spec shows off dark chrome inserted headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, R-Spec badge and a sport-tuned suspension.

Step inside and you will find a well-designed cabin that, to tell you frankly, isn’t Hyundai-like! There is the four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, door panels, console lid; power tilt-and-slide sunroof; electro-luminescent display for speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature, fuel level, odometer and trip computer gauges; eight-way driver and four-way power passenger bucket seats; metal-grain accents on center stack; heated front seats; Lexicon AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-Cd changer; power rear sunshade; and much more.

It has taken time but the Genesis shows off the quality aura and appearance of an Infiniti M or the Lexus GS. The already-robust engine choices get a lift with the 5.0-liter R-Spec, which can go 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. If performance isn’t priority for you, we suggest test-driving the sufficiently forceful 3.8-liter model (base-priced at $34,200). You won’t be disappointed.

GENESIS (5.0 R-Spec)
Wheelbase: 115.6 inches
Length: 195.3 inches
Width: 74.4 inches
Weight: 4,046 pounds

Brakes: 13.6-inch ventilated front; 12.4-inch solid rear
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons>
City: 16 mpg
Highway: 25 mpg
Base price: $46,500
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