What's New for 2012
Other than a few tweaks to an option package, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring returns unchanged.
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring may have Elantra in its name, but it's not to be confused with Hyundai's handsomely styled four-door sedan. "Touring" indicates that it's a hatchback, and a pretty good one in fact. However, the Touring is actually based on the previous-generation Elantra, and while it has many virtues, this hatchback can't boast the new Elantra sedan's many new strong suits.
As for those virtues, practicality is certainly number one. Its passenger space is generous and its cargo area is absolutely enormous. Compared to other small hatchbacks, the Touring is roomier than just about all of them. It can even hold more stuff than some compact crossover SUVs. Besides space, the Touring also offers reasonably sporty driving manners, a lengthy warranty and abundant features at a low price.
In terms of the overall ownership experience, however, the Elantra Touring is a bit of a letdown. There's not much to get excited about here; compared to the Elantra sedan, the Elantra Touring looks like a supermodel's painfully plain sister. From its simple exterior styling to the no-nonsense layout of the cabin, the Elantra Touring is a dramatic reminder of just how bland Hyundai models used to be. Engines and interior refinement are also subpar.
We do like the Touring, and it could be a good choice for shoppers with practicality as a number-one priority. But if you would also like some extra style to go along with it, there are some newer models that would be better choices, including the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen's Golf and Jetta Sportwagen.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring is a four-door hatchback available in two trim levels. Standard equipment on the base GLS model includes 15-inch steel wheels, heated outside mirrors, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio. Opting for the Preferred package gets you 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, cruise control, driver seat height and lumbar adjustment, upgraded cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a trip computer and a retractable cargo cover.
The SE trim level includes the Preferred package items, but adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and heated front seats. SE models with the manual transmission get a sport shifter.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine with an output of 138 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is an option. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-shift Elantra Touring reached 60 mph from a standstill in 8.7 seconds, a respectable showing.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg for combined driving with a manual transmission, while automatic-transmission models get 23/30/26 mpg.
All 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring models include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
In Edmunds brake testing of an Elantra Touring with 16-inch wheels, it came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet -- a short distance for this class.
Interior Design and Special Features
While the Elantra Touring's interior was always pleasant enough in a utilitarian sort of way, Hyundai -- and many of its competitors -- have raised the bar significantly. As such, the cabin's lack of style really makes it stand out in a crowd, and not in a good way. From a purely functional perspective, though, the dashboard's simple gauges and controls are easy to see and operate.
The cabin gets good marks in terms of space, with adult-sized headroom and legroom in both the front and rear seats. Not surprisingly there's an abundance of cargo room here too, including 24 cubic feet with the rear seats up and an impressive 65 cubic feet with them folded down -- a number that's on par with some small crossover SUVs.
The one place it's possible to put the 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring's shortcomings aside is on the road. Though the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine's 138-hp output may not sound all that impressive, it manages to feel a lot more sprightly than that number might suggest. That said, the engine does sound a bit strained when pushed hard.
Another pleasant surprise is the nicely tuned suspension, which produces good handling, though the steering feels a little too light. The combination of decent ride quality and a quiet cabin only add to the overall driving experience.