When Hyundai redesigned the Elantra sedan in the 2011 model year, it paused on refreshing the wagon body style, the Elantra Touring. A replacement is coming soon, but for 2012, the Elantra Touring still rides on its European-derived running gear, and still offers one of the better--and only--compact-wagon choices on the market today.
The Elantra Touring is completely different from its namesake sedan, but it still looks a bit like the former Elantra four-door. It's much more in the vein of compact, sporty, European wagons, which makes sense, since it's based on Hyundai products sold on the Continent. The look is straightforward, not overly detailed, and definitely not part of the "fluidic sculpture" current that's taken over the company's U.S. car lineup.
The front-drive Elantra Touring gets its power from a 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that was found under the hood of the last-generation Elantra sedan. Here, it's teamed up with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox, which offers decent acceleration and smoothness, but lackluster fuel-economy ratings, especially compared with the Elantra sedan's 40-mpg highway EPA rating. The suspension is considerably firmer than either the current or former Elantra sedan, with quicker steering and bigger anti-roll bars, which give the Touring a verve all its own.
The interior is roomy and versatile, thanks to the Touring's tall wagon body. Utility meets or exceeds that of Hyundai's own compact Tucson crossover, and the Touring's back seat splits and folds for an expanded cargo area. It's neat and well-designed, and the Elantra Touring really only comes up short in noise and refinement. The firm tuning leads to more road noise that reverberates in the wagon's cargo hold.
The 2012 Elantra Touring comes with a very generous set of standard features. Offered in GLS and SE trim, the Touring comes with standard power features, climate control, and an AM/FM/CD sound system with 172 watts of power, six speakers, USB and auxiliary inputs. The SE adds leather seats--heated in front--as well as a sunroof, a sport shifter, and upgraded alloy wheels.
The Touring's safety features include standard stability control and side and side-curtain airbags.
Only minor trim and features changes have been made for the 2012 model year. The Elantra Touring is due to be replaced in the next 18 months by a model based on the current Elantra sedan.
- 2012 Kia Soul
- 2012 Ford Focus
- 2012 Subaru Impreza
- 2012 Toyota Matrix
- 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
There aren't many compact station wagons left on the market, so shoppers seeking out the Hyundai Elantra Touring should also take a look at some cleverly designed hatchbacks, too--or seek out some higher-priced iron. The Kia Soul has its own cool character, and wagon-like room behind the rear seats, and it's now available with a stop-start system that improves gas mileage. Both the Ford Focus and Subaru Impreza are new for 2012, and both come in hatchback body styles that could solve the carrying conundrum as well as the Elantra Touring; the Focus is more entertaining to drive, while the Impreza has standard all-wheel drive. The Toyota Matrix is still out there, blending Corolla running gear with a tall-wagon body. Finally, if you're able to spend a little more, the VW Jetta SportWagen has a base price of just under $20,000, and has a very agreeable interior and lovely handling.