2012 Hyundai Elantra Photo
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On Performance
On Performance
Confident performance is something you'll find in the 2012 Hyundai Elantra, but a sporty or athletic driving feel isn't.
7.0 out of 10
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

the Elantra provides a manumatic mode, but, unlike most of the gimmicks on the market, this one is actually worth playing with

steering felt a bit uncertain on-center, and midcorner corrections were necessary on the winding roads
Popular Mechanics

The fully electric steering doesn't have Mazda 3 levels of driver engagement, but it is very precise and certainly feels better resolved than the Sonata's odd tiller.
Edmunds' Inside Line

Elantra's electric power-steering system offers good straight-line tracking stability, but it grew numb in the switchbacks

never exhibited that thrashy feeling you get with lesser four-bangers
Motor Trend

Last year, with the Hyundai Elantra's redesign, the automaker downsized the engine from 2.0 liters to 1.8 liters, but power remains more than acceptable. While keeping performance on par or better than the former engine, Hyundai was able to reach a 38-mpg fuel economy figure.

With 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque, the Elantra performs respectably with either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, thanks in part to a lightweight body of less than 2,700 pounds, or more than 60 pounds lighter than the car it replaced.

The new, all-aluminum 'Nu' engine is a major advance in itself. With a host of improvements and/or weight-saving measures like a composite intake, silent timing chain, and electronic throttle (but not direct injection), it's now the only engine offered on the Elantra in the U.S. Its idle quality is glassy-smooth, and it never reaches that coarse, buzzy range that makes so many small fours unbearable in their peak powerband. And it's right at home in the 2,500 to 4,500 range—where it'll be pretty much whenever you're increasing speed with the six-speed automatic transmission, which will be far more popular than the perfectly fine six-speed manual.

The Elantra doesn't feel as energetic or engaging as the Ford Focus, though, because its throttle is slow to respond to inputs, and its steering--while improved with better on-center feel this year--isn't especially natural in its feedback. On the other hand, ride quality is great, and the Elantra comes with standard four-wheel disc brakes and a firm pedal feel--better than the cost-cut rear-drum setup that's now so common in this class.


Confident performance is something you'll find in the 2012 Hyundai Elantra, but a sporty or athletic driving feel isn't.

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