2012 Honda Civic vs. 2011 Hyundai Elantra vs. 2012 Ford Focus

Regis Lefebure

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.

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.

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Dickson Dane Li
1.8L S A/T Honda Civic 2012 vs. 1.8L GLS A/T Hyundai Elentra 2012
Dickson Dane Li
Need votes before Nov 30, 2012 , Honda Civic 2012 vs Hyundai Elentra 2012
I have been leaning towards the Hyundai based on price, gas mileage, and features. The Honda keeps reminding me that reliability is also very important. The Elantra warranty makes the jump a little less frightful. The Focus does not have as good a price, reliability, or gas mielage until 2012. The Cruze Eco comes as a manual only (WAF) so that is out. Toyota is just too dull. I will try to post more after my Honda test drive.
It looks like the Ford is the better driver's car, and if you want some more fuel economy, go with the auto (dual-clutch). The five-door is also the best looking by a significant margin. You'll have to pay a little more than the Hyundai feature-for-feature, but what price happiness? In TCO terms, the difference isn't much. Besides, if the GLS Elantra doesn't have all the features you want, you might be able to spec out a Focus the way you want for less than the Elantra's Limited model.Notice I forgot to mention the Civic. That's Honda's fault. It's all but forgotten in the new, competitive field. Honda, prodigal son, thou hast lost thine way. You're welcome back whenever you are ready.
Although the Civic has an edge on the handling over the Elantra--I would think the Elantra wins over the Civic as it is $2000 cheaper, offers more features (back up camera,6 speed auto, automatic headlights, proximity key,start stop button, heated rear seats, and of course a superior warranty to the Civic. I think most informed buyer would chose the Elantra over the Civic as it is clearly the better buy.

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