KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 7/12/2012
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra continues to offer the consumer a tremendous value, combining elegant good looks, a long list of standard equipment and an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. At up to 38 mpg/highway for both automatic and manual transmision models, the Elantra sedan can help you go farther between fill-ups. The Hyundai Elantra Touring wagon, however, is carried over from the 2011 model year – looks and all – but continues to offer roomy versatility in addition to value.
You'll Like This Car If...
If your price range says economy car, but your taste says sleek and stylish, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra may very well be the answer to your dilemma. Looking somewhat like a miniaturized Hyundai Sonata, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedan definitely outclasses just about everything in its segment, yet its low price, feature-laden standard-equipment list and large interior defy the compact-car image.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a small car that is more sporty than smooth, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra may not be the best choice. A Mazda3 and Ford Focus may deliver superior driving experiences, but neither can match the Hyundai Elantra's impressive equipment list or lengthy warranty.
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan gains Hyundai's ActiveECO system that modifies engine and transmission controls for maximum fuel economy and smoothness. All Elantra models get recalibrated steering systems for better on-center feel, while cars equipped with the GLS Preferred Package gain fog lights and a passenger-side sun-visor extension, as well as a rear cargo cover and premium cloth interior on Elantra Touring models.
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedan and wagon may not have the responsive handling characteristics found with the Mazda3 or Ford Focus, but they are still a fun and engaging pair. There is enough feedback through the steering wheel to allow for confident twisting-road romps, and the suspension manages to keep the car fairly flat while soaking up road imperfections. The new steering calibration delivers better on-center feel, which helps for going straight down the road, as well as added feedback for more accuracy when turning into corners. The Elantra sedan's 6-speed automatic transmission shifts as smoothly and accurately as any we've tested. The sedan's 6-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly and easily and would make a solid choice if you wanted to save the added premium that the automatic adds to the bottom line. For 2012, the Elantra Touring wagon soldiers on with its 138-horsepower 4-cylinder, and the choice of a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.
HEATED REAR SEATS
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited sedan's standard heated rear seats are a feature you won't find on any other car in this segment. In fact, you won't even find them in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan.
It's true that, with the onslaught of smartphones, having a navigation system in your car is less of a priority, but Hyundai integrates the 7-inch screen so well into the Elantra sedan's instrument panel (and includes a rearview camera) that we would spend the extra money to get the optional package.
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra's interior is beautifully styled, but suffers from somewhat low-end plastics on the doors and switches. The instrument cluster and center console's elegant design have the look and feel of a much more expensive sedan, with user-friendly controls backlit by attractive blue lights. The Elantra's cabin is impressively roomy, particularly the sedan which has more total interior volume than a Volkswagen CC or Nissan Maxima. However, the volume story doesn't extend in all directions and, due to the sedan's sharply-raked rear window and C-pillars, taller rear-seat passengers may find themselves wanting more headroom. Trunk space is larger than with most competitors and 60/40 split-folding rear seats make it easy to transport bulky items. And for even bulkier items, the Elantra Touring is up to the task as it offers 65.3 cubic feet of cargo volume with rear seats folded down.
The Elantra sedan delivers the 2012 Hyundai Elantra fashion statement, awash in flowing, fluid lines, deeply-sculptured wheel arches and side body panels, and an aggressive grille and headlamp treatment. The base trim gets 15-inch steel wheels, but 16-inch alloys are available. If you have the extra cash, go for the upgrade. The 16-inch wheels not only improve the Elantra's appearance, they also help enhance its handling. The Elantra Limited sedan features stylish 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, front fog lights and a power glass sunroof. For those looking for a more subdued look, the Elantra Touring blends simplicity with elegance and features 16-inch alloys when the GLS Preferred Package box is checked.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS sedan comes with the essentials and more, including cruise control, air conditioning, power accessories, tilt steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with Satellite radio and USB/auxiliary input jacks. All 2012 Hyundai Elantras include an impressive array of standard safety equipment, including six airbags, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and a remote keyless entry anti-theft system with panic button.
Notable Optional Equipment
Opting for the up-level, sedan-only Limited trim adds a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, and leather seats. The GLS offers a Preferred Equipment Package, which adds Bluetooth, fog lights, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, 8-way power driver's seat, a retractable cargo cover (Touring model only), and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Limited sedan can also be equipped with the Technology Package, which features remote push-button start, 360-watt premium audio, touch-screen navigation, a rearview camera, and automatic headlights.
Under the Hood
The only engine offered in the 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedan is a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that produces 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque. It can be matched with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic for those drivers who want to shift their own gears on occasion. The sedan's 4-cylinder engine is also available as a PZEV (partial zero-emissions vehicle) variant. Although it has slightly less horsepower (145 vs. 148), the Elantra's PZEV engine is as clean-burning as some hybrid vehicles. The Elantra Touring retains the powertrain from yesteryear, consisting of a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder that is mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.
148 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
131 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/38 mpg
138 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
136 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg (Manual), 23/30 mpg (Automatic)
A base 2012 Hyundai Elantra has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $17,000, but opting for the automatic transmission adds about $1,000. The higher Limited trim level starts around $21,000 and tops just under $24,000 when fully loaded. The 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedan typically costs about $1,000 less than similar editions of the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. For wagon fans, the Elantra Touring starts just under $17,000 and jumps to around $20,000 for the higher SE trim level. Before making your purchase, you'll want to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Elantras. As for resale value, we expect the 2012 Hyundai Elantra to hold its value exceedingly well over a 5-year period, better than the Nissan Sentra and Ford Focus.