After much research and test drives, I finally decided on the Elantra GT with the Style package.
I test drove and compared the following:
VW Golf, Golf TDI, Jetta TDI, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Nissan Altima, Kia Optima.
By far, the Elantra GT was the quietest ride out of all, nicest cabin, and best overall value.
It was fun to drive (only slightly less fun than the Mazda which had great steering) but was smoother on freeway than Mazda. It's a lot roomier in front and back seat than all of those listed, and has better warranty. It was close between the Mazda and Hyundai but the Mazda didn't make good use of dash setup and I'm only 5'5" and hit my head getting in/out of the car.
Came from a 2010 Mazda 3. Love this car so far. I am 6' 1" tall and have great leg room in front. Back seat is also very spacious. I have the base model but it is very well equipped. So far averaging about 32MPG in about 80% hwy, 20% city driving. On one 60 minute freeway stretch at 65mph I averaged 36mpg. Pleased so far and I am hoping it will improve as time goes on. Keep it in ECO mode all the time. Very quiet car, average acceleration but plenty of power in manual mode. Sport mode in steering my favorite and handles very well, but not quite as good as my Mazda 3. Fantastic dash set up - Bluetooth works great, AC strong, above average stereo - nice bass. Competitors have their work to do.
Purchased vehicle almost 6 weeks ago, and have already put just over 6K miles on it (purchased in Florida and driven to California) Automatic with Style Package. It is being used as daily driver to work, about 42 miles each way, mostly highway, some city.
Incredibly happy with vehicle.
It handles great, the styling is modern, sporty and attractive.
The interior looks and feels like inside a much pricier car.
I am 6'3 ft and I have no issues with head/legroom up front or in the back, although my head is close to ceiling interior because of sunroof. It is not superfast, but has enough power for anything you may encounter in day to day driving. Suspension feels firm but not too hard.
Owning a 2012 Ford Focus Titanium hatchback for 5 months, I was in the shop 4 times for transmission issues and once for the nav/audio screen shutting off. All in all, it was a mess. I have purchased a silver elantra gt with tech and style package, manual transmission. Owning it for about a week, I am averaging 37 mpg (not sure where everyone else is driving). Prior to Ford, I was a BMW owner (2003) - fed up with costs to own. Although this is no BMW, this car is a lot of fun. Feel solid and handles pretty well for a car in this segment.
I bought my Elantra GT 2013 this past October.
I loved the panoramic sunroof and got the style package.
This included 17" low profile wheels and tires which look great, but BEWARE.
Within 3 weeks this winter, average road conditions (meaning lots of potholes) resulted in 3 tires developing 3 sidewall bubbles.
This included a tire that had just been replaced.
There is an entire forum on this problem with this car and these tires.