2011 Hyundai Elantra

GLS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 man trans

2011 hyundai elantra Reviews and News

2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic Front View
Any time there's a new Honda Civic, it's a big deal in the small-car market. The Civic, together with the Toyota Corolla, is one of longest-running nameplates in the field, and it regularly vies with the Corolla for the top spot in sales. This year, however, the new Civic is hardly the only big news in small cars. The past few months have also seen the introduction of an all-new Hyundai Elantra and an all-new Ford Focus, both vastly improved over their predecessors and both coming from companies that have been on a roll lately. It seemed natural to get the new Civic together with these upstarts to see how the freshest entries in the field compare.
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic Front Parked
The Many and the Few
The Civic is available in more different iterations than any other compact car. For the 2012 version, Honda has upped the count by one, adding a new HF high-fuel-economy model. The Civic already offers two body styles, coupe and sedan. There are a total of eight trim levels: DX, LX (the biggest seller), EX, EX-L, the sporty Si, as well as HF, Hybrid, and Natural Gas (due out this fall). For this comparison we had an EX-L sedan.
Ford's new Focus also comes in two body styles. The two-door coupe available previously is gone, but there's a new four-door hatchback to accompany the four-door sedan. There are four trim levels: S, SE, SEL, and Titanium. A Focus electric is joining the lineup in late 2011. We had an SE hatchback here.
The Hyundai Elantra has the simplest lineup. The new Elantra is offered only as a four-door sedan, in GLS or Limited trim. (The Elantra Touring, a high-roof four-door hatchback, shares the Elantra name but is really a distinct model.) For this comparison, we had an Elantra Limited.
Who's Got the Looks
We'll wade only briefly into the subjective area of design. The new Civic reverently continues the design theme of its popular predecessor. The large cabin is visually elongated with a steeply raked windshield and backlight, while the hood and the trunk are abbreviated. The result is on single-arc profile, which has been freshened somewhat with more sculpted surfaces. Designers of the Elantra and the Focus appear to have given no thought whatsoever to maintaining a visual link to the previous models -- and rightly so, since both were dowdy and downmarket-looking. The Elantra's flowing lines may not be to everybody's taste, but they're certainly dramatic and stylish for a car in this class. The Focus bears a familial resemblance to other Ford of Europe products, with an oversize grille, raised creases along the body sides, a rising beltline, and a small greenhouse. Overall, we think the design works better on the hatchback than it does on the overly busy sedan, although in both cases it's very similar to the subcompact Fiesta.
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic Parked
The Civic's Familiar Surroundings
Consistency is again the name of the game for the new Civic's interior, which clearly follows the format laid down by the previous model. Under the large windshield is a very deep dashboard that, as in the last Civic, is bisected into two tiers. The upper binnacle houses a digital speedometer, flanked by readouts for fuel level and another one for fuel economy. Bracketing the speedometer are lights that glow green when the driver lets off the gas or blue when he gets on it. Set below the upper binnacle is the large, analog tachometer, which the driver sees through the small-diameter, three-spoke steering wheel. An additional, 6.5-inch LCD screen just offset to the right within the upper binnacle is new for 2012. It can display a variety of information, which the driver can scroll through using the relatively simple buttons on the steering wheel. Readouts include audio system info, Bluetooth phone info, turn instructions from the navigation system, trip computer info, or a wallpaper photo that you upload. Our EX-L was equipped with the optional navigation system. Its large touch-screen was fairly easy to use and we had no qualms with the system's logic. But the audio and nav-system buttons that surround it are tiny, and the whole units looks like its ten years old. The Civic's other switchgear is typical Honda: simple and of high quality. Aside from our top-spec EX-L model's leather seats, the cabin is otherwise fairly basic and unadorned. Interior space, though, is quite good -- slightly better than before despite unchanged exterior dimensions -- excepting rear-seat headroom under the sloping roof. And the comparatively generous window area makes the cabin feel large and airy.
The Cockpit-like Cabin in the Focus
The design philosophy of the Focus cabin is definitely in contrast to that of the Elantra and the Civic. The driver's environment is more enveloping and less open. Although the dash slopes away from the occupants so as not to feel oppressive, the center console area is much higher and it flows right up into the center dash. A smattering of brushed-metal trim provides some relief in the mostly black interior, whose firm but supportive seats are upholstered in a grippy cloth (although leather is available). The Focus hatchback's rear seat is easier to get into and out of than the two sedans', but there's less legroom once you're in there. It's still adult-habitable, though. Of course, the Focus hatchback offers unmatched cargo-carrying utility, even before you fold the rear seats. Unlike the other two cars here, our Focus SE was not equipped with navigation (it can be had on the SEL and Titanium only), but it did have the optional MyFord and Sync package. This is not the same as the MyFordTouch touch-screen system, which is standard on the Titanium. This somewhat simpler system has two small screens, one in between the speedometer and tachometer and one in the center stack; they're accessed via a multi-function controller on the steering wheel (similar to the Civic's) and cell-phone-like buttons in the center of the dash -- the latter require a bit of a learning curve.
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic In Motion
Three Fours
All three compacts feature four-cylinder engines; the Ford and Hyundai engines are new, while the Honda four is largely carryover. The Focus engine is the largest, at 2.0 liters, and it alone uses direct injection. Its power and torque ratings are the highest of the three at 160 hp and 146 pound-feet. The Elantra's 1.8-liter is next, at 148 hp and 131 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are more powerful than their predecessors. The Civic's four-cylinder, also 1.8 liters, is a modified version of the previous Civic engine, but its horesepower and torque figures are unchanged from before, at 140 hp and 128 pound-feet. The drivability characteristics of all three were remarkably similar, perhaps because they all make their peak torque within the relatively narrow range of 4300 and 4700 rpm. Their relative differences in horsepower were blunted by the cars' differences in curb weight, where we find the Civic to be the lightest, the Focus the heaviest and the Elantra in between. The uptake is that none of these cars is a sparkling performer off the line, but all three have sufficient gusto for passing and highway merging.
Mileage Matters
The Hyundai was the only car here with a six-speed transmission -- in fact, whether ordered with a manual or an automatic, all Elantras have six forward gears. That probably helped the put the Hyundai out in front in the fuel-economy race, with EPA ratings of 29 mpg city and that suddenly all-important 40-mpg highway number. With the Civic, you get only five forward gears whether you choose a manual or an automatic like we had here (only the Si gets a six-speed manual). Still, the Civic is only a tick behind the Elantra in both city and highway measures, at 28/39 mpg. Our Focus had a five-speed stick, but the Ford's automatic is a six-speed. Not surprisingly, the manual-transmission Focus is the less economical variant, rated at 26/36 mpg. Both Ford and Honda can advertise higher numbers: 40 mpg highway in the case of the Focus, and 41 mpg on the part of the Civic. But in both cases, those figures are only for special, high-mileage variants: the Focus SE with the SFE package, and Honda's Civic HF model, whereas all Elantras achieve the same EPA rating.
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic Front Left In Motion
On the road
Ford has been making strides in the dynamic behavior of its small cars -- witness the Fiesta -- and that's clearly evident with the new Focus. The Focus felt particularly buttoned-down, and it had easily the best steering. The Honda proved to be a bit more eager to turn in than the Hyundai, exhibiting less understeer. It also rode notably better. We were less pleased, however, with the Civic's steering, which was rather vague on center. As impressive as the Hyundai was otherwise, it was somewhat disappointing dynamically. Its brakes were grabby and the suspension didn't do much to mask bad pavement. The Elantra's handling, though, was pretty good and its steering, while light, was not totally dead.
Conclusions
The Elantra is an impressive effort and boasts a long list of superlatives. It gets the best gas mileage, has the largest interior and trunk, and the best electronics interface. Less surprising but no less important is the fact that it has the most equipment at the lowest price. The Elantra is a good $2000 cheaper than the Civic, and would offer similar savings over a comparably equipped Focus. For many people, that wraps it up right there. To choose the Civic over the Elantra, one would have to place a greater weight on more subjective qualities. The Honda cabin feels more airy and comfortable and is easier to see out of. We found that the Civic also rides better. Its power deficit isn't really an issue because it's the lightest car here, and its fuel economy is close enough to the Hyundai's that it would hardly make a difference in real life. The Civic has the composure of a bigger car, but the ease of use of a small one. The Focus was a bit of an outlier in this test because of the way it was equipped. We had lined up a more directly compatible version (a sedan with an automatic transmission) but it was damaged at the last minute and this sporty SE hatchback stepped in. Despite its lower spec, the Focus was our favorite car to drive, with its nicely weighted steering, natural clutch action, and responsive handling. True, the Focus was the least economical, but we enjoyed rowing its manual gearbox. The hatchback body style is a versatile configuration that neither competitor offers. The Focus cabin wasn't as stylish as the Elantra's but neither was it quite as pedestrian as the Honda's, although it is more intimate than both. In any event, the Focus was the best driver's car, and while they may not be the most important factor for most small-car shoppers, it's where our prejudice lies, so the Focus is our pick.
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Honda Civic Front Left In Motion
2012 Ford Focus SE hatchback
Base price:
$18,785
Price as tested: $21,945
2012 Ford Focus Front In Motion
Standard equipment: 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, air-conditioning, power windows, 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, tilt/telescoping steering column, automatic headlamps, fog lights
Options on this vehicle: Rapid Spec 203A (convenience package, cruise control, perimeter alarm, MyFord & Sync package, MyFord Tech/6-speaker stereo/Sirius satellite radio, Snyc voice-activated system); SE Sport Package (16" painted aluminum wheels, piano black grille, rear disc brakes, rear spoiler, cloth sport seats, metallic interior trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob); Winter Package (heated seats, power/heated mirrors, turn signal mirrors)
Key options not on vehicle: automatic transmission, power moonroof, SFE super fuel economy package, leather seats
Fuel economy:
26/36/30 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Engine:
2.0L I-4
Horsepower: 160 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 146 lb-ft @ 4450 rpm
Drive:
Front-wheel
Transmission:
5-speed manual
Curb weight: 2920 lb
Wheels/tires:
215/50R17 Continental ContiProContact
2012 Honda Civic EX-L with Navi and XM radio
Base price:
$24,205
Price as tested: $24,205
2012 Honda Civic Ex L Front Left View
Standard equipment: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt/telescoping steering column, power moonroof, leather-trimmed interior, heated seats, Bluetooth, Navigation, satellite radio
Options on this vehicle: None
Key options not on vehicle: None
Fuel economy:
28/39/32 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Engine:
1.8L I-4
Horsepower: 140 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 128 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm
Drive:
Front-wheel
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2773 lb
Wheels/tires:
205/55R16 Continental ContiProContact
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited
Base price:
$19,980
Price as tested: $22,110
2011 Hyundai Elantra Front End
Standard equipment: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, air-conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, satellite radio, tilt/telescoping steering column, Bluetooth, leather seating surfaces, heated front and rear seats
Options on this vehicle: Premium Package (navigation, rearview camera, premium audio system, automatic headlights, proximity key entry with pushbutton start); carpeted floor mats; iPod cable
Key options not on vehicle: None
Fuel economy:
29/40/33 mpg (city/highway/combined)
1.8L I-4
Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 131 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
Drive:
Front-wheel
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2877 lb
Wheels/tires:
215/45R17 Continental ContiProContact
2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Ford Focus Promo
Change has been a constant in our nation's capital over the past few years, as relative unknowns have swept into the halls of power. The very same might be said of compact cars, particularly the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. For years, these two cars have campaigned in relative obscurity as more established and better-funded offerings dominated the segment. Now, thanks to thorough redesigns, they're both frontrunners, promising more features and better fuel economy than we once thought possible for a compact car. But which deserves your vote? That's what we aimed to determine by journeying in both cars from still-chilly Michigan to cherry-blossom-lined Washington, D.C. As politicians haggled over the dollars and cents in our national budget, we put the Focus and Elantra through their paces and found which car brings change we can believe in.
2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Ford Focus Head To Head
Looking presidential
The right look doesn't count for everything - just ask John Edwards and Mitt Romney - but it sure helps. The Elantra and Focus both score big points here. They're stylish enough to stand apart from the bland appliances in the segment (Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta) while avoiding weird design elements that turn off potential constituents (Mazda 3, Honda Civic). In fact, we were surprised by how similar the two cars look in person, even though our Focus was a hatchback. They share a sleek, sloping profile and feature similarly slanted head and taillights. Each has a few distinguishing details - we love how elegantly the Elantra's rear window flows into the trunk and were wowed by the Focus's hidden gas cap (once we found it). No doubt about it, these cars would look plenty comfortable in a televised debate -- no makeup required.
A chicken in every pot and Bluetooth for every phone
2012 Ford Focus Front Three Quarters
Well-equipped compact cars, once a novelty, are now de riguer. And so our test cars both ride on seventeen-inch wheels and pamper occupants with satellite radio, iPod connectivity (both via hard wire and streaming), heated seats, and redundant steering wheel controls. Bluetooth? You even have to ask? The Elantra, in Limited trim, adds a navigation system identical to what you get in the more expensive Sonata, leather seats, and a sunroof for a price of $22,860. Ford offers a similar trim for the Focus, called "Titanium," but our particular SE model, listed at $21,945, hews more toward performance with a sport package that adds the aforementioned rear disc brakes, sixteen-inch aluminum wheels (the seventeens are extra), and unique interior and exterior trim.
Clearly, both candidates are making some lofty campaign promises. However, there are a few areas where they underdeliver. Take, for instance, the much-hyped Sync voice-recognition system on the Focus, which has a learning curve steep enough that we often gave up and relied on the busy assortment of buttons on the center stack. The optional MyFord Touch cleans up the center stack with a large touch screen, but our recent experiences with the system on other Fords have left us frustrated with its less-than-intuitive function and occasional glitches.
Hyundai's system, in contrast, works very smoothly and easily but can be overwhelmed in very demanding situations such as, say, providing directions in a chaotic city. We wish Hyundai offered something akin to the Google maps option available with Ford Sync, whereby directions can be calculated via Google and beamed to the radio or nav screen.
In fact, we at one point wound up staring at Google maps on an iPhone, as the Elantra's in-dash nav-screen wasn't detailed enough to show us how to negotiate a particularly confusing loop near the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. Similarly, Hyundai's voice-recognition technology is easier to use than Sync at first, but can become tiring with its multilayered command structure, leading us to believe real owners will find more utility in the Ford system over the long haul.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Side
Hyundai is also the more earnest in following through on its fuel-efficiency claims. Both Ford and Hyundai are heavily touting their small cars' ability to achieve 40 mpg on the highway, but the Focus only does so when equipped with a dual-clutch automatic transmission and a special fuel economy package. Our test car, equipped with a five-speed manual -- no six-speed is offered -- is rated at a still impressive, but less sensational, 26/36-mpg city/highway. The Elantra, on the other hand, is rated at 29/40 mpg regardless of trim level and with either the six-speed automatic that was in our test car or the standard six-speed manual. Over the course of our three days of mixed city and highway driving (including the round trip to D.C. from Ann Arbor, MI), we observed an indicated 36 mpg in the Elantra, versus 33 mpg in the Focus.
It's a similar story when it comes to interior space. On paper, the two cars have nearly identical interior dimensions. In real life, the Elantra feels noticeably more spacious, especially in back, where its flat floor allows for easy pass-through and tolerable legroom even for a middle passenger. The Focus feels a bit crowded in front and positively cramped in back, though it scores some points with nicely bolstered front seats and excellent materials quality overall.
The right experience
2012 Ford Focus 2011 Hyundai Elantra Front End 4
Is it better to be the experienced Washington bureaucrat who knows the ins and outs of legislating or the fresh-faced outsider who isn't tainted by years of backroom dealings? The Elantra and Focus are mostly able to balance the best of both worlds thanks to their size: They're small enough to slice through the snarling urban traffic and negotiate the bizarre intersections that make up D.C.'s "grid," and yet they have no issue flying at 80 mph on dangerously congested highways. Steering in both cars is quick, but not nervously so.
There are a few holes in the Ford and Hyundai's commuter car resumes, though. Both cars, for instance, suffer in stop-and-go traffic due to their fuel-economy-focused, numerically low gearing. It was especially noticeable in the Ford, despite the power advantage afforded by its 2.0-liter four-cylinder (159 hp compared to 148 hp from the Elantra's 1.8-liter), as we were constantly working the manual gearbox to keep up with traffic. The saving grace here is that the Focus has one of the best stick-shifts we've experienced in a domestic compact, with linear clutch take-up and smooth shift action.
The Elantra has a harder to dismiss issue in its ride quality. We expected the Elantra, with the longer wheelbase of the two cars, to be the more mature cruiser. Alas, its suspension crashes over potholes and jitters across highway expansion joints. Here's where Ford's experience comes into play. Blue Oval engineers perfected the art of small-car suspension tuning more than a decade ago with the first Focus and have demonstrated that acumen as recently as last year with the smaller Fiesta. The new Focus follows the same theme. Its four-wheel independent suspension calmly absorbs road imperfections that had the Hyundai's torsion-beam rear axle pitching about the contents of its trunk.
That experience shines even more brightly when we finally escape the Beltway and find some winding rural Maryland roads. The Elantra is no slouch at cornering, taking fast turns with reasonably little body roll and little complaint from its Continental all-season tires. But it's never much fun, which is where the Focus really distinguishes itself. Through quick switchbacks, its back end feels noticeably more planted, and its overall limits feel slightly higher even though it wears slightly taller-profile Continental all-seasons. More important, we enjoy the Focus more because it supplies that now rare commodity known as steering feel. The steering wheel in the Focus is a communicative, lively, naturally weighted driving tool. The Elantra's tiller, in contrast, is much more typical of modern small cars - it gets the job done accurately enough but relates very little of what's happening to the front tires.
2011 Hyundai Elantra 2012 Ford Focus Front Grille 2
Conclusion: Serving special interests
Our candidates have a lot in common. They achieve good fuel economy, offer lots of electronic goodies, look quite good inside and out, and drive well in just about any environment. We hear they want lower taxes and support the troops, too. But as with most campaigns these days, the choice comes down to special interests. If you value interior packaging, user-friendly controls, and getting the absolute maximum fuel economy for your dollar, go ahead and support the Elantra - thousands of young families will likely agree with you. We, however, happen to be vocal backers of the enthusiast lobby, complete with membership cards that read "No Boring Cars." Ford has unabashedly pandered to those of us who care about driving by designing an efficient, comfortable mainstream car that absolutely nails the finer points of steering feel, suspension tuning, and overall driver involvement. Our vote goes to the Focus.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited
2011 Hyundai Elantra Front
Base price (with destination): $19,980
Price as tested: $22,860
Standard Equipment:
1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine
6-speed automatic transmission
17-inch alloy wheels
Electronic stability control
Traction control
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Tire pressure monitoring system
Power sunroof tilt & slide
Fog lights
Air conditioning
AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers
iPod/USB and auxiliary audio input
Power windows/locks/mirrors
Remote keyless entry
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Leather seating surfaces
60/40 split rear seats
Options on this vehicle:
Premium package -- $2000
Navigation with high-resolution 7-inch touch screen
Rearview camera
Premium audio system with external amp
Automatic headlights
Proximity key entry with push-button start
Carpeted floor mats -- $95
iPod cable -- $35
Key options not on vehicle:
None
Fuel economy:
(city/hwy/combined)
29 / 40 / 33 mpg
Engine:
1.8L I-4
Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 131 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
Drive:
Front-wheel
Transmission:
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 2877 lb
Wheels/tires: 17-inch alloy wheels
215/45R17 Continental Contiprocontact all-season tires
2012 Ford Focus SE
2012 Ford Focus Front End 3
Base price (with destination): $18,790
Price as tested: $21,945
Standard Equipment:
2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
5-speed manual transmission
16-inch steel wheels with covers
Power windows, mirrors, locks
Anti-lock brakes
AdvanceTrac
Electronic stability control
Driver and passenger air bags
Tire pressure monitoring system
Fog lamps
AM/FM stereo single CD/MP3
Auxiliary audio input jack
Air conditioning
Tilt/telescoping steering column
60/40 split rear seats
Options on this vehicle:
Convenience package -- $1385
Cruise control
Perimeter alarm
MyFord & Sync systems
MyFord tech, 6 speakers, Sirius satellite radio
SE Sport package -- $1130
16-inch painted aluminum wheels
Piano black grille
Rear disc brakes
Rear spoiler
Cloth sport seats
Sport tuned suspension
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
Winter package -- $570
Heated seats
Power and heated mirrors
Turn signal mirrors
17-inch machined and painted alloy wheels -- $495
Key options not on vehicle:
6-speed automatic transmission -- $1095
Moonroof -- $795
Fuel economy:
(city/hwy/combined)
26 / 36 / 31 mpg
Engine:
2.0L I-4
Horsepower: 159 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 146 lb-ft @ 4450 rpm
Drive:
Front-wheel
Transmission:
5-speed manual
Curb weight: 2920 lb
Wheels/tires: 17-inch alloy wheels
215/50R17 Continental Contiprocontact all-season tires
2011 Hyundai Elantra
The compact sedan segment is such a practical bunch of cars. According to Hyundai, about half of buyers choosing one of these cars are downsizing -- and their number one reason is fuel economy.
2011 Hyundai Elantra
This is clearly a thrifty group of people. And while all of the cars in this segment get good or great fuel economy, the Elantra beats them all. It does so without a downsized, turbocharged engine (Chevrolet Cruze), twin-clutch automatic (Ford Fiesta), or direct fuel injection -- but instead with smart aerodynamics, a small four-cylinder with dual continuous variable valve timing, and six-speed transmissions (automatic or manual). Importantly, all Elantras achieve the same EPA figures (29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway). No "eco" package is needed (as in the Cruze and Fiesta.)
There's another area in which the Elantra has all of its competition beat: styling. With apologizes to Toyota, no self-respecting young person could get excited about the Corolla. The Civic, now at the end of its life cycle, has a futuristic design that went one step too far -- and seems to appeal to George Jetson more than it does to Elroy. The Chevy Cruze is a good car, but it carries the baggage of a lifetime of crappy compacts from the General. The Mazda 3 is fun to drive, but its silly smiling face is a deal-breaker for many. And the Volkswagen Jetta may look grown-up and elegant, but it can't compete on price here. When it tries, it's equipped with an engine from the 1940s and an interior of Play-Skool quality. (Slight exaggerations, if only.)
In fact, if it weren't for the forthcoming Focus (and the new Fiesta, both of which compete with the Elantra) we could go so far as to say that this Hyundai is so far ahead of everything in its class, it's playing by itself. There is no longer a single compelling reason to buy a Corolla. The Civic is just fine, if you love the way it looks. The Mazda remains a fun choice, but it looks and feels like a toy by comparison. And the Jetta? If you want the real German car, you need to pony up the extra money for the wagon or forthcoming GLI, both of which have high-quality interiors, but neither of which can compete on price.
Hyundai has cracked the code of the compact economy sedan. This category of car isn't about making a sport sedan, and it's not rocket science to make a car that's nice to drive, well-equipped, reliable, and price-competitive. To its benefit, Hyundai seems to be the only player that understands how important styling is.
And the Elantra delivers that in droves. Inside and out, there's not a cheap part and not a single bad angle. It looks elegant, expensive, and well-built. And it's more of the same from behind the wheel. The steering is path-accurate. The brake pedal feels positive, with immediate bite and response. Handling is excellent on smooth surfaces. The ride quality is surprisingly supple, with excellent body control. The cabin is quiet. The 1.8-liter engine produces 148 hp, but only 131 lb-ft of torque, so it needs lots of revs to keep up with traffic. That's no problem, since it's relatively quiet, smooth, and unobtrusive (under 6000 rpm, anyway-the highest couple hundred rpm on the tach are accompanied by a determined, somewhat harsh note). The six-speed automatic is ready, willing, and able to pull off big downshifts with the utmost of smoothness-and redline upshifts are similarly well executed. Unfortunately, the six-speed automatic has an unacceptably long first gear, making off-the-line getaways far slower and more labored than in, say, the Jetta or Cruze, both of which squirt off the line with short first gears.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Driver Side Motion
The only cheap touch in the Elantra's interior is the hard plastic on the backs of the fold-down rear seats; it's easily scratched and will show its age quickly. Otherwise, every touch point is padded, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel on uplevel Elantras feels great. (So do the heated leather seats.) The climate controls are not only easy to use, but far better looking than anything else in this class (and the vent fan is surprisingly quiet.) The infotainment interface is merely okay unless you order navigation-some of the functions require multiple steps to access.
The back seat of the Elantra offers suitable amounts of space, but the sloping roof really cuts into headroom -- a problem that the other expensive-looking car in this class, the Jetta, doesn't have. But the Hyundai's interior materials are a world better than the VW's. And the Jetta's base 2.0-liter 8-valve engine is no match for the Elantra's 16-valve 1.8-liter, not in power or economy or refinement. The optional 2.5-liter five-cylinder is a far better match for the Jetta. Of course, it comes at a price -- in additional MSRP and diminished fuel economy
You won't mistake the Elantra for a Volkswagen GTI or a BMW 3-series from behind the wheel, but as a practical commuter, there's not much to complain about. And that's what this type of car is about -- comfortable, economical, and practical. Right now, it's without question at the top of its class, and until the next Ford Focus goes on sale, we have no doubt that it'll remain there.
NewImage
2011 Hyundai Elantra
2011 Hyundai Elantra
Taking some of its new exterior styling from the Sonata, the Hyundai Elantra really brings a lot of car for the money. The 2011 Elantra starts at a price tag under $15,000 and still comes well equipped with extras like traction control, stability control, six airbags and many other nice additions to the base model. Debuting in late 2010 the 2011 model of the Elantra plans on bringing more economical minded styles, reliability and interior furnishings to this compact sedan model from Hyundai.

The new Elantra also comes with a touring option that will be rolled out in a small crossover looking wagon that will offer front wheel drive and a larger 2.0 liter engine that will give 138 horsepower to the driver. The dual overhead cam and continuous variable timing will be a big upgrade compared to the standard model and five speed manual transmissions should make a very fun to drive package that will surely be a consumer hit. There are also two trim levels to choose from on the standard Elantra that add some luxury features and alternate styling.
2011 Kia Soul Front Three Quarter 02
Experian Automotive, a group specializing in automotive market analysis, released its second-quarter 2011 report. The results place Hyundai Motor America at the top in corporate loyalty, marking the first time the Korean company has claimed the top spot in the U.S. market. According to Experian, Hyundai’s corporate loyalty rate of 49.6 percent was enough to take the lead away from General Motors and Ford, which scored 48.1 percent and 47.6 percent, respectively.
2012 Ford Focus Front View
After crunching the sheetmetal of 13 new small cars, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has determined that the 2012 Ford Focus, 2012 Honda Civic four-door, Hyundai Elantra, Lexus CT 200h, Nissan Juke, and Toyota Prius qualify for Top Safety Pick status.
Hyundai Alabama Assembly Robotsa
New reports suggest Hyundai plans to invest $173 million in its Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant to expand engine production capacity. According to Automotive News, the move will create 214 new jobs and increase engine capacity by 300,000 units annually.
Small Car 6 Pack Front View
Bud Light is a means to an end. You don't drink watered-down, fizzed-up yellow beer for the taste. You drink it to get drunk. If you're cheap, if you're playing beer pong, or if you've planned far enough in advance to know that you'll be vomiting before the night is over, that's when you drink Bud Light.
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We demand more from our beer, too. Not the Automobile Magazine staff we, but the America we. There haven't been this many breweries operating in the United States since the late 1800s, and while overall beer sales were down in 2010, craft-beer sales climbed eleven percent. This is how we weave a tour of great breweries into a search for great small cars. You shouldn't drive crappy cars, and you shouldn't drink crappy beer. Michigan, with the fifth-largest brewing industry in the country, obliges. Our resident beer expert and senior web editor, Phil Floraday, theorizes that craft brewing thrives in regions with certain geographic characteristics -- something about four seasons and access to water. We'd add that a blue-collar mind-set and a seriously unstable job market probably helps, too.
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The Cruze's chassis is respectable without being commendable. It rides better than it handles, with a decent amount of roll in hard turns. The hyperquick steering is extremely sharp and responsive, but a large part of its enthusiasm is accomplished by practically eliminating all dampening character from the electric assist. Side effect: an artificial feel that undermines the inherent goodness in the hardware. Had the engineers tuned to feel rather than calculable metrics, the Chevy's steering could have been exceptional.
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The Corolla's rigid body and stout suspension have aged quite well. Over rough roads, its composure is a reminder of what made this car so great three, five, and eight years ago. The ride is no longer a standout, but it is entirely acceptable. The steering is lifeless and the handling fairly flaccid. The interior, while it looks like an eight-year-old design, at least looks like an eight-year-old Toyota design. That is to say, the ergonomics are foolproof. If you fear that grandma will veer off the road trying to turn up the volume on the radio -- a very reasonable fear with modern infotainment designs -- buy her a Corolla and put a flowery needlepoint pillow on top of the intolerably hard center armrest.
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Honda's ninth-generation Civic is the newest arrival, and yet you'd hardly know that from looking at it. Both inside and out, it retains the signature cues from the previous car, with its single-arc profile and two-tier dashboard. There are few changes to report under the hood, either, as the 1.8-liter four-cylinder and a five-speed automatic carry over. The Civic's engine is only marginally more refined than the Corolla's, but the extra gear makes for a significant advantage. There's better acceleration at any speed, although the most noticeable improvement comes in passing maneuvers between 50 and 70 mph, when the Toyota needs second but the Civic can muster just as much confidence and make a smoother downshift with third gear.
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An out-of-the-way neighborhood in Grand Rapids isn't the most natural place for a brewery, but Jason Spaulding couldn't resist the opportunity to take over a former funeral home. With a vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, and stained-glass windows, the old chapel becomes a monastery in the Belgian and French inspiration of his Brewery Vivant. The taproom has been open for less than a year, but a loud dinner crowd fills the place on a Thursday night, with the twenty-foot-long community tables forcing strangers to sit inches apart. Down the hall, the first cans of Triomphe, a Belgian IPA, are being filled and sealed, making Brewery Vivant one of the first small breweries in Michigan to can beer, an idea that's quickly gaining traction in the craft-brewing industry. Spaulding's vision is all about sustainability -- environmentally, socially, and financially. He intends to increase production to 5000 barrels a year and then hold the line.
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Staying small has worked well for Mazda, the rare automaker unwilling to trade its brand integrity for sales. Its best-selling car, the 3, has thrice been an Automobile Magazine All-Star for its excellent chassis and engaging driving feel that still accommodates the basic needs of the mainstream buyer. Equipped with the optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder, as our car was, the Mazda 3 is for fun seekers rather than fuel misers. It's the most powerful car in this group with 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque, but it returns just 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. The sedan's standard 2.0-liter is good for 24/33 mpg with the automatic at the expense of 19 hp, and a new engine for the 2012 model will deliver 40 mpg on the highway. While not the smoothest-running four-cylinder, the 2.5-liter's plentiful torque makes it a punchy car in city traffic and a delight in the twisties. The five-speed automatic can be abrupt with downshifts, especially at low speeds, but the transmission is always responsive to right-pedal inputs and reliably chooses the right gear.
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Right Brain Brewery lacks signage and a distinct entrance, but it nonetheless has drawn a full house for Tuesday's superhero trivia night. At the end of the bar, owner Russell Springsteen, mellow and relaxed, talks with anxious ambition about his plans to get Right Brain onto more taps in northern Michigan. It's not easy; to get a new beer on tap means another brew has to be kicked out. But Right Brain's reputation and reach are spreading. "I have a very slow, methodical plan that's happening very fast," he says of the brewery's rapid growth since he sold his hair salon and opened Right Brain four years ago.
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For the massive improvements in the Elantra, we're impressed to find that it remains a value buy as well. At $22,830, it is cheaper than the Cruze and the Civic and is equipped with options that were absent from or unavailable on the competition, such as a backup camera, heated rear seats, and navigation.
Small Car 6 Pack Brewery
Excellent powertrain flexibility means that the 160-hp 2.0-liter remains responsive throughout the rev range. Or you can pin it to 5000 rpm and it will happily churn out power while you wend through corners and curves on the back roads. The shifts are slow, and Ford could learn a lot from studying Volkswagen's excellent DSG transmission. Still, the Focus's six-speed dual-clutch automatic is the best transmission here for its irreproachable shifts both up and down. And at 27/37 mpg, this capable performer is a practical commuter, too.
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North Peak
400 W. Front St.,
Traverse City, MI 231.941.7325
northpeak.net
Small Car 6 Pack North Peak
1. 2012 Ford Focus SE
Price
Base $17,995
As tested $20,380
Powertrain
Engine 16-valve DOHC I-4
Displacement 2.0 liters (122 cu in)
Horsepower 160 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 146 lb-ft @ 4450 rpm
Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Front-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H 178.5 x 71.8 x 57.7 in
Wheelbase 104.3 in
Track F/R 61.2/60.4 in
Weight 2935 lb
Headroom F/R 38.3/38.0 in
Legroom F/R 41.9/33.2 in
Passenger volume 90.7 cu ft
Luggage capacity 13.2 cu ft
Fuel capacity 12.4 gal
EPA mileage (city/hwy/combined) 27/37/31 mpg
2012 Ford Focus Se Front Interior
3. 2012 Honda Civic EX-L with Navi
Price
Base $24,205
Base $24,205
Powertrain
Engine 16-valve SOHC I-4
Displacement 1.8 liters (110 cu in)
Horsepower 140 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 128 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Drive Front-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H 177.3 x 69.0 x 56.5 in
Wheelbase 105.1 in
Track F/R 59.0/59.9 in
Weight 2795 lb
Headroom F/R 37.9/36.2 in
Legroom F/R 42.0/36.2 in
Passenger volume 92.1 cu ft
Luggage capacity 12.1 cu ft
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal
EPA mileage (city/hwy/combined) 28/39/32 mpg
2012 Honda Civic Ex L Front Interior
5. 2011 Chevy Cruze 2LT
Price
Base $21,395
As tested $23,185
Powertrain
Engine 16-valve DOHC turbo I-4
Displacement 1.4 liters (83 cu in)
Horsepower 138 hp @ 4900 rpm
Torque 148 lb-ft @ 1850 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Front-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H 181.0 x 70.7 x 58.1 in
Wheelbase 105.7 in
Track F/R 60.7/61.3 in
Weight 3102 lb
Headroom F/R 39.3/37.9 in
Legroom F/R 42.3/35.4 in
Passenger volume 95.0 cu ft
Luggage capacity 15.4 cu ft
Fuel capacity 15.6 gal
EPA mileage (city/hwy/combined) 24/36/28 mpg
2011 Chevy Cruze 2lt Front Interior
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Rear Three Quarter
In a segment about as competitive as the application pool for Harvard, the Elantra stands out as one of the most well rounded entries. It has a ton of standard equipment, gets great fuel economy, and has an attractive and comfortable interior. It also drives very competently, if not engagingly. The only flaw is ride quality. It's not terrible in any conventional sense of the word - I drove the Elantra for several hours on the highway and then through some rough city roads and was never really uncomfortable. As with those Harvard wannabes though, small issues become magnified because the other candidates are so darn good. Models like the Ford Focus, the new Honda Civic, and the Chevrolet Cruze offer similar (if not quite equal) equipment and fuel economy, but ride like luxury cars. The Focus is also much more rewarding to drive, as is the Mazda 3. Of course, each of the models I just mentioned has a few imperfections of its own, so it really comes down to a buyer's priorities. Those looking primarily for value and fuel economy who don't often drive on awful roads - in other words, most compact car customers who live in the southern half of the United States - can do no better than the Elantra.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Profile In Motion
The Elantra is another really good vehicle from Hyundai. The cabin is neat and straightforward while still being stylish and, dare I say, elegant. Every control is clearly labeled, within easy reach, and nicely sized and weighted. The overall feeling of quality and attention to detail is truly impressive. This top-spec Limited Elantra is loaded and trimmed in leather so I'm interested to see how the base GLS model will compare, especially considering it starts at about $15,700, more than five grand less than this version.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Profile
I eagerly awaited a chance to drive the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai has been riding a wave of success for almost two years now and the Elantra promised to bring the brand's newfound poise and refinement to a segment that's suddenly white-hot. Perhaps my expectations were too high for the little Hyundai because I thought the Elantra took a step back from our Four Seasons Sonata SE in terms of driving dynamics. Yes, the bigger, more expensive Sonata gets a more sophisticated suspension, but when cars as small as a Fiat 500 feel more solid on the highway at 80 mph I know Hyundai can polish the suspension tuning and damping a bit more. That said, Joe DeMatio is correct that the vast majority of buyers shopping for a car based on appearance, value, and fuel economy will find no fault in the Elantra's ride.
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Front Three Quarter
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited
2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited Rear Three Quarter

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Used 2011 Hyundai Elantra Values / Pricing

Suggested Retail Price
$14,945

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2011 Hyundai Elantra
2011 Hyundai Elantra
GLS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
28 MPG City | 38 MPG Hwy
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GLS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
28 MPG City | 38 MPG Hwy
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2011 Ford Fiesta
S FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
28 MPG City | 37 MPG Hwy
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2011 Kia Forte
EX FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
26 MPG City | 36 MPG Hwy
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2011 Ford Focus
S FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
25 MPG City | 35 MPG Hwy
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2011 Hyundai Elantra
2011 Hyundai Elantra
GLS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
$14,945
Top Ranking Vehicles - Price
rank
17
2011 Hyundai Elantra
2011 Hyundai Elantra
GLS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
148hp
Top Ranking Vehicles - Horsepower

2011 Hyundai Elantra Specifications

Quick Glance:
Engine
1.8L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
28 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
38 MPG
Horsepower:
148 hp @ 6500rpm
Torque:
131 ft lb of torque @ 4700rpm
  • Air Conditioning (optional)
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control (optional)
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
Vehicle
60,000 miles / 60 months
Powertrain
100,000 miles / 120 months
Corrosion
Unlimited miles / 84 months
Roadside
Unlimited miles / 60 months
Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:30
Component
AIR BAGS:SIDE/WINDOW
Summary
Hyundai Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2011-2013 Elantra vehicles manufactured from November 12, 2010, through March 5, 2013. A support bracket attached to the headliner may become displaced during a side curtain airbag deployment.
Consequences
If the headliner support bracket makes contact with an occupant during a crash, it may cause a laceration injury.
Remedy
Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will apply adhesive strips to the headliner, free of charge. The safety recall began during April 2013. Owners may contact Hyundai at 1-800-633-5151. Hyundai's recall campaign number is 109.
Potential Units Affected
186,250
Notes
Hyundai Motor Company


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:30
Component
STRUCTURE
Summary
Hyundai Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2011-2013 Elantra vehicles manufactured from November 12, 2010, through March 5, 2013. A support bracket attached to the headliner may become displaced during a side curtain airbag deployment.
Consequences
If the headliner support bracket makes contact with an occupant during a crash, it may cause a laceration injury.
Remedy
Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will apply adhesive strips to the headliner, free of charge. The safety recall began during April 2013. Owners may contact Hyundai at 1-800-633-5151. Hyundai's recall campaign number is 109.
Potential Units Affected
186,250
Notes
Hyundai Motor Company


IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
IIHS Best Pick
N/R
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R

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