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

Regis Lefebure

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.

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.

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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