Redesigned last year, the Elantra compact car arrives at a time when automakers are redoubling their efforts in this segment. With seating for up to five, the Elantra's looks and fuel efficiency — it's rated at 38 mpg on the highway — make it a compelling entrant in the segment. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.
New for 2012
On automatic-transmission Elantras, a new Active Eco System is designed to improve real-world gas mileage by smoothing throttle response. The 2012 Elantra also gets a horn with improved sound and new steering calibration for better straight-line feel. A roadside-assistance kit is optional.
Even though it's a sedan, the Elantra has the look of a coupe. The roofline slopes gracefully down to the trunk lid, and the rising belt line makes a sharp upturn at the rear or the car, giving the rear side windows a triangular shape. This diminishes backseat-passenger visibility, but it gives the car a distinctive and sporty shape.
The Elantra has a thin upper grille and, below the front bumper, a larger opening that's reminiscent of the smiley-face grilles on a number of Mazdas. Pronounced fender flares and dramatic sheet-metal creases along the sides of the car enhance its visual appeal. Other exterior features include:
- 15-inch steel wheels standard; 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels optional
- Standard heated side mirrors
- Available automatic headlights
- Available power moonroof
Sweeping dashboard lines and a center console that rises to meet the dash lend a modern appearance. A high-resolution touch-screen navigation system that incorporates a backup camera is optional, and the screen is mounted high on the dash. Other interior features include:
- Standard cloth seats; heated leather seats optional
- Standard remote keyless entry
- Standard trip computer
- CD stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs
- Standard 60/40-split folding backseat
- Large 14.8-cubic-foot trunk
- Optional air conditioning
- Optional cruise control
- Optional Bluetooth connectivity
Under the Hood
The Elantra is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 148 horsepower, and it gets an EPA-estimated 28/38 mpg city/highway whether you get the standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic. Mechanical features include:
- Uses regular gas
- Front-wheel drive
Standard safety features include:
- All-disc antilock brakes
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Front and rear side curtain airbags
- Electronic stability system
- Tire pressure monitoring system
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