2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe vs 2012 Honda Civic Coupe

Has Honda's compact coupe dominance come to an end?

2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe vs 2012 Honda Civic Coupe

Automakers are clamoring to snag entry-level buyers, but make no mistake — these consumers are far from being low-hanging fruit.

It’s a lesson hard learned by Honda this year after members of the media ridiculed what was, by most statues, a very good car. It wasn’t so much that Honda struck out with its fifth-generation Civic, as it was that other brands like Hyundai were swinging for the fences.

So here it is, a shootout between the old stalwart and new-school compact coupes that lit the market afire in 2012.


Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Most people looking seriously at either the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra coupes are less than worried about performance. Instead, it’s about looking cool without breaking the bank.

That’s something Hyundai nailed with its fluidic design language that leaves the Elantra Coupe looking streamlined and slick. It works especially well in coupe form where the car’s short deck lid complements the car’s organic lines.

The Civic’s exterior won’t surprise you. Far from a shocker, it’s doesn’t get any attention — though a redesigned model is on its way to dealers soon.

2012 Honda Civic Coupe and 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe thumbEven still, it’s hard to look at the 2012 Civic and think it’s bad looking. It’s just isn’t particularly sexy. Regardless, the sharp lines and chiseled rear end have an aesthetic of their own that some might prefer over the Hyundai’s styling.

As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That stands for the exterior of both cars, though step inside and it’s hard not to be more decisive in judgment.  It’s hard not to have an opinion that leans heavily in Hyundai’s favor.

That’s because the Civic has an interior loaded with cheap looking — and feeling — plastic parts. The dashboard is similarly unappealing as it its center stack. Then again, it’s easy to understand how it works, which might not be true in the Elantra for drivers coming off an older car. It’s something you’ll quickly overcome, but worth noting nonetheless.



2012 Honda Civic Coupe and 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe front

The differences between the Hyundai Elantra Coupe and Honda Civic Coupe are myriad, but the biggest is one you can’t see and might not notice unless you’re driving.

Both cars make almost the same power from 1.8-liter inline four cylinder engines with the Civic making 140 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque while Hyundai’s powerplant offers 148 hp and 131 lb-ft.

Fuel economy is about the same between the two as well. Honda claims the better estimate with 28/39 mpg in the city and on the highway while Hyundai quotes 27/37 mpg.

The handful of extra horses and mpgs doesn’t mean much, though. What is meaningful, on the other hand, is how both cars feel.

2012 Honda Civic Coupe gaugesTrue to form, Honda’s VTEC four-cylinder is perky at high rpms and the car handles with all the light-and-tight poise you would expect. The steering wheel is thin and easy to direct, but not to the point of flaw. Likewise, the gas pedal just feels good to step on, like the satisfying feeling you get after crushing a Coke can with your heel. Crisp.

Meanwhile, the Elantra has little in common with the Honda’s handling. They might weigh about the same; they might even have the same power, but the Elantra feels porky and unwilling to move in comparison.

A thicker wheel turns, but not without a degree of protest. Unwieldy by comparison, there’s nothing wrong here but it’s hard not to think it could still be more right. Steering response feels slower, be it on highway lanes or city thoroughfares. Perhaps the thickest nail in this car’s coffin is the throttle response. There’s no denying that “crunch” is America’s texture of choice, but press down on the pedal and it’s more of a squish.


2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe interior

Aggravating for a cantankerous car snob, perhaps, but the truth is that most people will never care deeply about the differences in driving dynamics.

Instead, the status quo is more likely to leer at equipment lists, which is where Honda languishes.

Liken Hyundai to a high school keener here. Spotting an opportunity, the Korean carmaker swooped in to offer a compact coupe for 2013 with generous standard equipment.

Pick the Hyundai and you get all this in the basic “GS” trim: heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, power locks and heated mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, an external temperature gauge and more.

2012 Honda Civic Coupe interiorWith Honda? Well, you don’t get any of that. In fact, the base “DX” model doesn’t give you much of anything… at least not without stepping up to the “LX” trim which costs about $2,000 more. Even then, many of the sought-after goodies like Bluetooth are still absent, which will likely disappoint the tech savvy crowd.

Hyundai’s price for entry is almost as much as the mid-level Civic, yes, but it’s also equipped a lot like the premium model.

So here’s the breakdown: the Civic starts at $15,755 before delivery in base trim. Meanwhile, the Elantra will set you back $17,445 but beats Honda’s equipment list hands down.

Should you care to consider both cars at their best, those prices rise to $24,055 for the Civic and $20,745 for the Elantra.


Compare Specs

2012 Honda Civic Coupe
2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Vehicle 2012 Honda Civic Coupe Advantage 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Engine 1.8L 4-Cylinder - 1.8L 4-Cylinder
Horsepower 140-hp Hyundai 148-hp
Max. Torque 128 Hyundai 131
Fuel Economy 28 MPG city / 39 MPG hwy Honda 27 MPG city / 37 MPG hwy
Starting Price $15,755 Honda $17,445
Front-Seat Leg Room 42.2 in. Hyundai 43.6 in.
Front-Seat Head Room 37.7 in. Hyundai 39.8 in.
Rear-Seat Leg Room 30.8 in. Hyundai 33.3 in.
Rear-Seat Head Room 34.3 in. Hyundai 37.1 in.
Trunk Capacity (cu-ft) 11.7 Hyundai 14.8 in.

Both provide ample space in the front buckets for you and a friend, but small numbers get big points in a game of inches. Hyundai takes the win here, hands down. There’s an extra 1.7 inches of headroom and 1.4 inches of legroom in in front and almost three inches of extra headroom in the back. There’s also 2.5 inches of extra legroom for passengers three four and five.

That trend continues in the trunk, where Honda buyers get 11.7 cubic feet of space and an annoyingly small porthole into the cabin with the 60/40 split rear seats folded. The Elantra coupe offers 14.8 and a less restrictive opening.


2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe

If you had to have a compact coupe a few months ago, there wouldn’t have been any question in the matter. Hyundai would be the place to go. It would have been, but not so much anymore.

That’s because Honda cracked under the pressure and is offering a refreshed version of the car only a year in. It fixes most of our complaints, though a dealer may try and sway you into a 2012 with some serious incentives.

While the 2013 model only costs a little bit more on paper, you might be wise to think about how much those features really mean to you. While the year-old Civic is still as good or bad as it was a year ago, venturing into a Honda dealer is less an exercise in numb and dumb buying and more a shrewd decision.

But what about Hyundai? Between the two coupes, this is what it breaks down to. Hyundai offers a more luxurious, better-appointed package. It looks fresh and will feel good to most drivers.

The Civic is a more engaging drive, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that even Honda agreed its 2012 effort was the loser when pitted against new guns in the market like the Elantra Coupe.

2012 Honda Civic Coupe

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked