2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS Black with gray interior and Automatic transmission, preferred package, carpeted floor mats, ipod cable, electrochromatic mirror with Homelink, and emergency roadside kit.
This will be a long and detailed review. I must preface everything by saying that I have been driving a 2000 BMW 323ia for the past 11 years. It now becomes my sons. It is impossible for me to review any car without reflecting back on my experience with my BMW. If BMW’s weren’t so damn expensive I’d never buy another brand. I will try to point out the areas where my BMW experience has impacted my review of the Hyundai.
My job requires that I carry a catalog case with about 35 pounds of paper in it and I am reluctant to toss it in for fear of breaking the floor, but I’ve never actually tested my theory. It would be nice if there were some trays in the floor on the side of the trunk to put things you don’t want sliding around (a la BMW).
The doors are also light and easy to open. I am very impressed with how wide they open. Especially the front doors. It makes it very easy to enter and exit the vehicle. Compared to my BMW this is very impressive! When opening the doors from inside the car there is not a defined click or sound/feel when the door unlatches.
I’m 53 so I like my AC/DC, Tull, and Zeppelin loud.
The Ipod cable and connection work great. Once the system has “loaded” your Ipod you can control it from the radio stack or the steering wheel. Very nice!
The drivers seat is easy to position and it alone has an up/down feature. For me the sides of the bottom cushion push in on my thighs too much even though I’m only 5’ 10” and 170lbs. After a while it begins to annoy me. I’m sure my legs will get accustomed to this, but for now I notice it. I am one of those people that can’t sit anywhere without my lower back being uncomfortable so my comments about the seats should be taken with that in mind.
Air-conditioning: The controls are easy to see and easy to manipulate. The air is ice-cold, as it should be. One small issue is that if you use Max AC then you cannot have the air blowing anywhere but from the upper vents. The fan noise is minimal.
Miscellaneous: The center armrest in the front slides forward which is nice. However, once you’ve done that it is not easy to push the latch to lift it up to reveal the storage area below it. The side pockets of the front doors have a tilted bottle holder. These will NOT work for cups or anything else that doesn’t have a lid that seals well. They will work well for baby bottles, but not for cups from a fast food restaurant.
I haven’t had to put the brakes to any kind of test, but they have stopped me quickly when I just wanted to see what would happen. This car is light so any kind of brakes would do a good job.
As I’ve pointed out the Elantra was built with lightweight materials in an attempt to increase gas mileage. The lack of a spare tire is for weight savings as well as cost savings. You will notice the bumps and jolts in this car more than you would in an SUV or heavier car such as a BMW. That is the price you pay for better fuel economy. Unfortunately, you are NOT going to get the mileage you see posted on the window in my opinion.
You should also know that I live in Florida where it is hot, but we don’t have hills or many curvy roads to contend with.
Design: Nice lines. Unique when compared to Civic, Mazda3, Corolla and others. I am not sure the design will stand the test of time. It may become “old” before its’ time unlike the BMW which ages gracefully in my opinion. Several women have called it “cute”. Overall I think Hyundai did a good job making the exterior look modern and more expensive.
The handle does not require any real pull to unlatch the door. This can be disconcerting until you get used to it.
The engine compartment lid is also light, which is nice, but obviously there isn’t much strength to it. The lid brace is easy to move and use.
The interior materials look and feel to be of good quality. Everything fits nicely. The instrumentation is well lighted and every gauge is easy to see/read without moving or taking your eyes off the road for very long. Just a quick glance.
Audio: It is very nice to have the audio controls, Bluetooth, and cruise control on the steering wheel.
There isn’t much support in the area where the seat cushion and the back cushion come together. I’ve taken to putting a small pillow in that area to help support my lower back. I do this in my BMW also so that is not a complaint with Hyundai. In fact, since my BMW has electronic seat controls you would think I would be able to find a comfortable position, but I never did.
The legroom is excellent in the front and the back seats! My brother-in-law is over 6’ tall and he positioned himself in the driver’s seat and then got in the back seat and was ecstatic with the legroom. I don’t know how Hyundai did it, but the legroom is really impressive.
There are two cup holders between the front seats so that isn’t an issue.
Mechanical (Engine, Transmission, Brakes, etc.)
The Elantra has a four cylinder engine that was built for fuel efficiency not for racing. Having said that I must admit it does a great job of moving the car along under any condition. If you “floor” it you will move quickly, but the engine will make some noise to let you know it’s a four cylinder . The automatic transmission changes gears smoothly and quietly. Passing on the interstate is not an issue. It has the power and acceleration to get you past anyone at any speed.
This is probably the biggest disappointment I have with my new Elantra. Having done my research I knew that the Hyundai/EPA estimates were optimistic. I’ve driven the car about 650 miles with the AC on, Max Cool on and Eco on. Here are my results after filling up two times:
First Time: Filled up when odometer read 304 miles. I had about a 90-mile range left according to the trip computer. It also stated I had an average speed of 28mph and an average of 31.1mpg. Second Time: I filled up with the odometer reading 622 miles with a range of 32 miles left. The trip computer said I had traveled 317.8 miles since my last fill up.
The trunk lid provides a large opening to an equally large trunk area. This large trunk area is very nice considering the overall size of the car. The lid is light so it does not necessarily close even though it may come down to the latch once you have pushed it over center. You must be sure to push it until it latches. You cannot open the trunk from the back of the car. You must use the lever near the driver’s seat or use the key fob. The trunk “floor” is light and easy to lift up, but there is no spare tire beneath it. Also, I do not get a sense of strength from the floor.
Two great features of these controls are the Mute button and the ability to turn the radio On without moving your hand away from the steering wheel. You can also cycle through the AM, FM, CD, XM features without touching the dashboard controls. However, the stereo sounds as though the amplifier is not strong enough to power the speakers or the speakers are not good enough for the system. The “presence” given off by the speakers is not as good as the BMW. I am always wishing for more push, more oommph, out of the speakers at any volume level. The stereo is not bad it just doesn’t rock my world like I wish it did. This is one area where I think Hyundai went cheap without needing to.
Compared to the Civic and the Mazda3 the legroom and the feeling of spaciousness in the back seat is incredible. The back seat also has the center armrest with cup holders and that is very convenient. The back seat design and layout is great for such a small car. Kudos to Hyundai.
Windows/Mirrors: I haven’t found any blind spots so I’m happy with their size. I do wish the driver’s window had an auto up feature. The rear window is large and the rearview mirror shows the car from side-to-side which is very nice. The side mirrors are large and show a larger area than those on the Civic. I’m very happy about that. I do wish Hyundai offered factory tinting on the windows.
The steptronic “manual” transmission works great, but unless you just want to play around with it you probably won’t use it much. Also, unless you have hills to deal with or curves to contend with I don’t think this should be a factor in buying this car. My BMW also has this type of system and I didn’t use it much in the 11 years I drove it. It’s nice to have, but not necessary for the most drivers. Unless you are putting the engine under some stress the noise level is very quiet. I’ve been impressed with how quiet this car is even at highway speeds (80mph).
It also showed an average speed of 49mph (lots of interstate driving at around 78mph) and an average MPG of 31.6. I put 10.891 gallons in which doesn’t equate to 31.6mpg. I don’t know why the difference.
So even though my average speed increased 21mph my average MPG only increased 0.5 mpg. I don’t see any way for my MPG to get even close to 29 city or 40 highway as advertised. I will admit that the window sticker states that the “Expected range for most drivers 24 to 34 mpg”. None the less I am disappointed. I do not believe my engine needs to be “broken in” before I get better gas mileage, but I will keep an eye on it. I am going to drive without the AC in Max Cool mode.