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 40 mpg on the highway - make it a compelling entrant in the segment. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.
On automatic-transmission Elantras, a new Active Eco System is designed to improve real-world gas mileage by up to 7 percent 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.
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:
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:
The Elantra is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 148 horsepower, and it gets an EPA-estimated 29/40 mpg city/highway whether you get the standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic. Mechanical features include:
Standard safety features include: