Comparison: 2011 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2012 Ford Focus

Regis Lefebure
2011 Hyundai Elantra

The right experience

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.

yellow98cobra
Comparison? C'mon . . .a hatchback and a sedan. A top-line "Limited" and a mid-line "SE". A six-speed auto and a five speed stick! I know, I know, similar cars weren't available. In their rush to be first once again we get a comparison that's apples to oranges. If we can't get a real comparison of equivalent cars, don't bother.
QMan
This review is upside down. I have driven both cars. The Ford has MUCH more headroom and is easier to enter and exit, and it has more options. It is also a slightly smoother and slightly quieter ride. But it is much more expensive with the options. In every other respect the Elanta wins every comparison I can think of. Elantra every time for me.
fordfan4ever
tonkatoytruck i want what your smokin.price and gas mileage are important depending on who you are but the most important thing to most people when buying a car is how much they enjoy driving the car.this focus still gets great mileage and its cheaper.and how can you say the elantra is more reliable when the ford has'nt even been out for 1 month.even though its a economy car does'nt meen it has to drive like one.this new focus will win car of the year hands down.oh bye the way ford hater ,have you drivin a ford lately?
tonkatoytruck
One last thing, although the Elantra has had some reliability issues in the past, the newer Elantras are far more reliable than the Focus, which has never been very reliable and is only now delivering mediocre reliability. The newer Elantras are far more reliable than the Focus according to true delta.
tonkatoytruck
TBone85,You missed the point. I do NOT want a bigger car. I want a car with great gas mileage. That is NOT the Focus. I also want a cheap price. Again, not the Focus.My point is that if someone wanted an economy vehicle like this, they could get a bigger car for the same price with the same mileage. So, from a design standpoint, Ford failed on two of the most important aspects of this vehicle segment.I do understand that there are several different needs for a vehicle like this. For some, this is all they can afford and is a daily driver. But, for a growing segment of the population, it a solution to rising fuel prices. For the latter, it is all about saving money. The latter usually has more than one car and probably has a long commute. I would suggest that the latter is the growing segment of the population entering the economy car market.1fastone,I drove the Elantra and had no such issues with cornering. In matter of fact, its cornering abilites are remarkable. Probably the rental tires
1fastone.
Wondering if the Focus is as easily blown around as the Hyundai? I just rented an Elantra with the following observations: 1) excellent interior, 2) any wind stronger than a fart blows it all over the road, 3) the tires on the rental ought to be illegal--on even a moderate corner at a fairly slow speed, the car completely rolled over the tires, 4) after 3 days I returned the rental due to electronic failures (car would occasionally alarm when manually unlocking, manual unlocking was required because the remote only worked 10% of the time, after exiting the car for more than a few minutes every interior component would reset--radio shuts off, odometer resets, radio goes to FM channel 87, ventillation resets to blowing on driver regardless of where it was left, etc.). So final tally--excellent interior and fuel economy. Poor quality, terrible tires regardless of whether this was a rental or not, Hyundai's version of "flame surfacing" is already old, poor rear 3/4 visibility. How does Ford do against that?
Tbone85
Different buyers have different criteria. Driving dynamics were at the center of my decision matrix 4 years ago so I bought a Mazda3. Apparently other buyers agreed as the previous generation 3 saw an increase in market share versus it's predecessor. At least Ford offers model choices that trade off some driving dynamics for higher mileage. One size does not fit all. Some people actually want to enjoy driving their car even if it's a compact.The Sonata while a nice piece is obviously in a larger car class and doesn't come close to driving experience of the Focus. Sounds like the same argument of folks who say for the price of a fully loaded Sonata, they'd rather have a larger entry level Taurus. To each his own.
tonkatoytruck
The two most important categories of ecomomy cars is gas mileage and price. Driving dynamics take a distant third, especially when discussing the "limits" of these vehicles. If dynamics were important, they would call them sports cars. Based on these criteria, the Hyundai clearly wins the segment category. If I wanted a vehicle with the Focus' mpg and price, I would get the Sonata.
gmhonda
I think they should put the Elantra's front clip onto the Focus...otherwise both are ugly at different ends.

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