2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS Review [Video]

Good looks and 40-mpg are just two of many reasons to find yourself in an Elantra

2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS Review [Video]

Hyundai’s new Elantra isn’t just winning praise, it’s topping multi-car comparisons, besting vehicles that have sat untouched at the top of the compact car pedestal for decades. Having driven the vehicle back at its official launch, we were impressed. Several months later with the launch of an all new Focus and Civic and its worth another look. Have Hyundai’s charms worn off?


1. All Elantra models come with a 148-hp 1.8L 4-cyl that gets 29/40 mpg.

2. For 2012 all Elantra models get a $250 price hike and now start at $15,195 and jump to 17,445 for an automatic GLS or $20,445 for a Limited.

3. Even base models come with standard remote keyless entry as well as a USB and iPod hookup.

4. Limited trim levels come with luxuries like leather as well as heated front and rear seats, while optional extras include keyless access, a push-button ignition, navigation and a 360-watt audio system.

In case you need a refresher, the Elantra is best known for stand-out qualities that include interior and exterior design, not to mention fuel economy.


While subjective, it still might very well be the most attractive car in its class. The new Focus is a strong style rival, however, with its gaping front opening. The Cruze, while handsome enough, doesn’t really pop and the Civic, well, it looks just like Civics have for a very long time.

Perhaps an even more significant transformation comes in the car’s interior (shown here in Limited trim) with a genuinely modern cabin that gives a feel like it doesn’t share a single button with the previous generation car. The same can’t be said about the Civic, or about the Cruze.


In the fuel economy wars the Elantra still remains the unrivalled champion. While the Cruze advertises a special 42-mpg Eco model, that’s only for the stick shift and it costs thousands more than the base model. For 2012, automatic transmission versions will get 38-mpg on the highway, an improvement of 2-mpg. The Focus gets the same and both come up one short of the Civic with 39-mpg. The real world difference between these models isn’t all that significant, but Hyundai’s ability to claim that magic 40-mpg number puts the Elantra in a whole new marketing league.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

But there’s more to the Elantra than just these factors. It many ways it’s more Civic-like in its ride, which isn’t to say it’s as sporty but it feels lighter and more nimble. Depending on what you’re looking for in a car, however, it can also be viewed as a little less robust compared to the Cruze or Corolla.


Some would say a fully independent suspension isn’t necessary in this class of vehicle, but that’s not entirely true, even if most automakers seem to agree. Two of the rare ones in this segment that have such a setup are the Focus and Civic and it shows in their handling capabilities and sporting pretensions.

Perhaps the Elantra doesn’t need an independent rear suspension, but the current setup could at least use a few tweaks, and not for performance reasons either. While indistinguishable from many of its counterparts on flat stretches of straight road, when the tarmac deteriorates there’s plenty of extra shake that reverberates through the car.


A closer look at the powertrain reveals strengths and weaknesses. Motivating the car is a 148-hp 1.8-liter engine mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic. Engine output is right on target for the class and the motor has enough pep around town. Under full throttle it feels much less adequate, however, and always seems to disappoint when you’re planning a pass or zipping up a short ramp in order to merge with highway traffic.

The transmission does like to stay it the higher gears to hit that 40-mpg target, but gears down rather quickly compared to many rivals. It’s not quite as willing as the Civic’s setup, which as a 5-speed may be considered out-dated in the class, but its refinement is reason enough why Honda has continued on with it.

During our week with the new Elantra, the real world fuel economy numbers did not disappoint. While the car’s regular commute did favor highway driving, we managed 36-mpg.

What does continue to be a weak spot for the Elantra is its steering – a common complaint we have among Hyundai models. It’s reasonably light and not forcibly heavy like with the Tucson, although it is rather vague, with a numb on-center feel.


An impressive well-rounded package, the Elantra will pick up plenty of buyers based on that 40-mpg number, its design and an overall positive outlook by the automotive media. Others will rely on researching out trim levels and pricing, which is worth a look.

At $15,195 the Elantra, in GLS trim, continues to be one of the most affordable compact cars on the market, although that number is a bit misleading. (The same can be said of any vehicle in this range). If air conditioning is on your must-have list, which we suspect it is, then you’ll have to add on a $1,250 Comfort Package, which also includes cruise control, a telescopic steering wheel and 16-inch steel wheels (up from 15s) with larger tires and hubcaps.

For those who simply can’t live without an automatic transmission, then the entry price is over $3,000 more at $18,205 – a number that includes all those aforementioned Comfort Package options.

You’ll likely want to add an additional $600 to the final price, however, to tack on the Preferred Equipment Package that includes some must-have features like 16-inch allow wheels, steering wheel audio controls, some upgraded interior trim and Bluetooth, which we think every automaker should include as standard. Of note, all trim levels come standard with keyless entry, as well as a USB and iPod hookup.

Stepping up to the Limited package brings a long list of features you’d like, but really don’t need, like leather, a sunroof, heated front and rear seats and 17-inch wheels with larger, lower profile and higher quality 215/45/17 tires. Plus you’ll get an assortment of trim upgrades inside and out. Beyond that, those with income to dispose of can spend it on features like a navigation system, a more powerful audio system and even keyless access with a push button start.

At $18,805 the GLS with all the goodies minus the optional Nav seems like the way to go. It’s no longer the incredible bargain price you might expect from Hyundai, but it’s also a chasm of mediocrity away from those Korean compact of yore.


Just two years ago there were really only two compact car options, one from Honda and one from Toyota – the latter of which has now even fallen off the map as it hangs on at the end of its product cycle. Now there are half a dozen solid offerings.

The fact that the Elantra still stands out among them shows just what an impressive package it is. We still have a few issues with it, but they’re small and a testament to how spoiled we’ve become with compact cars. Only a few years ago such issues would have been overlooked.

With stand-out styling and that big 40-mpg number, Hyundai won’t have any trouble bringing customers into dealerships, and with an impressive interior and solid pricing, dealers should find it equally easy to send folks on their way in a new Elantra.


2012 Honda Civic Review

2012 Ford Focus Review 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Review – First Drive 2011 Volkswagen Jetta Review 2011 Hyundai Elantra Review – First Drive

  • Yasser MohammedRashad

    I have Elantra 2009 and its now 216000 km in 4 years and 6 months I drive daily 260 km

« 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