2012 Hyundai Elantra Review

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding fuel economy on all models
  • lots of features for the money
  • comfortable and well-built cabin
  • large trunk
  • long warranty coverage
  • distinctive styling.
  • Limited rear headroom
  • not as sporty as some rivals.
List Price Range
$5,000 - $10,998

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Thanks to head-turning styling, a fuel-efficient engine and a long list of standard safety features and upscale options, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a top pick for a small sedan.

Vehicle overview

Once a crummy also-ran, then a dark-horse alternative and now one of the sales leaders, the Hyundai Elantra is quite the success story. After last year's complete redesign, the Elantra has shed its frumpy, anonymous styling and gained fluid curves and a coupelike roof line. The 2012 Hyundai Elantra looks good, and that counts for a lot in a segment not normally known for visual excitement.

Thankfully, there's substance to go along with the Elantra's new sheet metal. Its 1.8-liter engine delivers commendable power for its class, as well as thrifty fuel economy. The latter improves even further for 2012 thanks to a new system known as Active Eco. When the driver selects this mode, the Elantra's automatic transmission shift points and throttle response are adjusted to increase fuel economy by up to 7 percent. The downside, though, is more sluggish performance when the mode is engaged.

Inside the cabin, occupants are greeted by a bold dash design and controls that are still easy to use. Overall materials quality isn't quite best-in-class (that award goes to the Ford Focus), but the Elantra's cabin isn't bargain-basement either. The Elantra can also be loaded up with the sort of comfort and electronics features indicative of a luxury car. Other than a lack of rear headroom for taller folks, the cabin is generally quite spacious.

So the 2012 Hyundai Elantra is comfortable, well-built, fuel efficient, abundantly equipped, sharply styled and covered by Hyundai's long warranty coverage. Of course, other small cars like the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, 2012 Ford Focus, 2012 Honda Civic and 2012 Mazda 3 are also great choices, making comparison shopping a must. But when it comes to the small sedan segment, we can finally endorse the Elantra as a top pick.

2012 Hyundai Elantra models

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is available in GLS and Limited trims.

The base GLS comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The GLS Comfort package adds 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, solar glass and, when equipped with an automatic transmission, Hyundai's Active Eco system. The GLS Preferred package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, upgraded interior trim, a sliding front center armrest, illuminated vanity mirrors, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth.

The Elantra Limited adds all of the GLS Preferred equipment plus 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The Limited Technology package adds automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a rearview camera, an upgraded sound system, a touchscreen infotainment interface and a navigation system with real-time traffic, weather and other information.

2012 Highlights

After a complete redesign last year, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra gains an "Active Eco System" that modifies engine and transmission parameters at the push of a button to increase fuel economy by up to 7 percent. The names of option packages have also been changed.

Performance & mpg

Every 2012 Hyundai Elantra is front-wheel drive and comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. Vehicles sold in California-emissions states get a partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV) version of this engine, which lowers output to 145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. On the GLS, a six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. The Limited comes standard with the automatic.

In Edmunds performance testing with a non-PZEV engine, an Elantra Limited went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds -- slightly slower than average. No matter which engine/transmission combo you choose, you'll end up with impressive EPA fuel economy estimates of 28 mpg city/38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined.

Safety

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra's list of standard safety features includes traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints, front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, an Elantra Limited needed 125 feet to stop from 60 mph -- a good distance for the segment.

In government crash testing, the 2012 Elantra received a perfect five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal impact protection and five stars for overall side impact protection. (It should be noted that some 2012 Elantras that Hyundai built early on received a lower, four-star overall rating resulting from a three-star frontal impact rating.) In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Elantra earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Driving

While the 2012 Hyundai Elantra isn't quite as exciting to drive as it is to look at, it's certainly not dull. The new 1.8-liter engine has plenty of pep for daily driving, and the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and willingly downshifts. The cabin is a relatively quiet place, with little wind noise to speak of, though there is enough road and engine noise to remind you that the Elantra is still a compact economy car rather than the high-dollar sedan it appears to be.

If you're looking for some driving fun in your compact car, the Elantra doesn't have the outright handling abilities of the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus and Mazda 3. Those cars quite simply feel a little more sophisticated. But in general, the Elantra's balance between ride and handling is one of the best in the segment.

Interior

The Elantra's interior features a curved center stack and stylized climate controls that provide a bit of extra flair while still being easy to use. The design is attractive and the materials, while not quite best-in-class, at least have a rich look to them. With available high-end features like leather, heated front and rear seats, an excellent navigation system and a rearview camera, you can even equip an Elantra to near-luxury levels.

In general, the Elantra offers a lot more space than you'd expect from a compact car. Headroom up front is plentiful for 6-footers and the steering wheel is a bit smaller in diameter than usual, which enhances the sense of space up front. The backseat is fine for kids and even most adults, though vertically gifted folks will find its abundant legroom and shortage of headroom a mixed blessing. The Elantra features a large trunk with 14.8 cubic feet of cargo room, a generous number for this segment. Its 60/40-split pass-through is also quite large.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good price for a good car
CaffeineTripp,06/01/2016
GLS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6M)
Purchased the Hyundai Elantra GLS in 2014 with 80,000 miles. This is a commuter car no doubt about that, and will remain a commuter car. Driven highway miles 75% of the time. Vehicle was in excellent condition when purchased, needed rear right strut to be replaced. Goodyear Assurance tires are quality and low noise coupled with the Elantra. Consistently get 36+ MPG mixed driving without being on the throttle. Throttle response is lacking due to drive-by-wire rather than cable. Steering is tight and consistent, but no feedback and feels 'dead' at slow speeds. Comfort in front and back is good for shorter distances and road trips 2 hours or more. Steering wheel controls are set up nicely and ECU is good at predicting driving with Cruise Control on. Factory CD player/media player controls aren't the best in how they're set up, but is fixed by installing an aftermarket unit. Available kit on this model is good; safety all around, flawless A/C, 6 speaker sound system, and cruise. However, for a 2012 it would be nice for some minor additions of factory steering wheel controls/power and memory seats, foglights to top off exterior. Engine is noisy with lifter ticking, but common in the 1.8L Nu engine series. Possible to decrease lifter noise with revised lifters/more oil pressure? Transmission gearing is spot on for lower horsepower/torque power bands and excellent for 70 MPH interstate cruising. Shifting is chunky with the 6 speed, but direct. Shifter itself feels too light to navigate the gear box. Minimal maintenance has been required overall. Suspension is tight, however, the 2012 also suffers from the Salt Belt States front coil spring recall (which is still unavailable for the 2012 and 2013 models); both front coil springs have snapped within a month of each other slightly damaging sidewalls of tires. OEM coil springs are nonexistent through dealers in the US. Canada sourced coil springs may be available. Exterior styling is very nice and akin to Japanese cars (well done Hyundai exterior design team). Interior styling is nice as well and has a fluid-like look. Soft angles and a cockpit for front seats with plenty of room in the rear for adults. Interior's plastics do not feel chincy. Dash and center console are designed well, hiding clips to retain dash pieces rather than having screw holes everywhere giving the interior a one-piece design. Everything feels solid inside (revise the shifters to have more weight though!) Overall, the MD/UD 5th Generation Elantras are a welcome design change for the manufacturer. Quality has increased dramatically over all of the vehicles. Like many asian manufacturers though, road salt is nearly unheard of and needs to be addressed for safety before selling.
104,000 miles- still pleased.
Bradley Wood,02/05/2016
Limited 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A)
I've seen that some people have gotten lemons, but most buyers are satisfied. I drive over 90 miles a day very aggressively. Appreciate the gas mileage rebate, but the way I drive I wouldn't ever expect anything near 40 mpg.. The interior is noisy and lacks a cushion-like feel, but the sound system with nav. is great. At 70 thousand I needed new tires,wipers and brakes. I exceeded recommendations and had to buy rotors, but that was my fault. I change the oil about every 4500 miles because all my miles are on the highway. No mechanical issues that I can fairly complain about. Had the dealer replace the serpentine belt at 75 thousand just to be safe. Update- 96,000 miles. I did as recommended and allowed Hyundai dealer service dept. to change engine coolant and transmission fluid at 85,000 miles. Got slammed with a bill for 550 bucks! Feel like that was excessive. Still, no repairs have been required - not even a bad light bulb. Update- 104,000 miles. Had a taillight bulb burn out. Had brake pads checked for wear. I don't want to buy rotors again, like I did at 70,000 due to my neglect. Pads are still good. Had to get all the tire pressure sensors replaced - two recently. These are fifty bucks apiece plus labor. I don't appreciate having to spend so much for what I think is unnecessary technology. I can tell by looking if a tire is soft. I think this is a widespread inconvenience not unique to this make and model car. I will need new tires again, in the next 5 or 10 thousand miles.
Did Hyundai Provide Me Great Customer Service?
Disappointed,07/17/2016
GLS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6M)
Hyundai’s safety recall Campaign 137 was on the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, which may have caused my car accident with my 2012 Hyundai Elantra. I called the Hyundai Recall Campaign Center several times about my case. Many of the reps I spoke with either provided wrong information, inaccurate timeframes for supervisors to call me back, denied my request to speak to a supervisor, or hung up on me. National Customer Care Rep Larry Bane managed my case. He refused my request to have my car tested in post-accident condition. During an oil change visit at my local Hyundai dealer, a service advisor recommended replacing my car’s yaw-rate sensor (the key component to the ESC system), and I approved. More than five weeks later, Larry Bane’s first conclusion letter said, “Unfortunately, we were unable to inspect your vehicle in its post-accident condition since it had already been repaired.” The message ended by saying, “We believe your vehicle operated according to its design in the accident.” The following week Larry Bane sent a second conclusion letter. This letter stated, “We have re-reviewed all of the available information regarding your accident, as well as the points raised in your most recent correspondence. Based on all of the available information, we continue to believe that our previous response is accurate and that your accident did not involve a product defect. With respect to the recall referenced in your correspondence (Recall 137), we do not believe that the condition that the recall seeks to address was present or caused your accident.” Larry Bane’s supervisor Chris said, “We pride ourselves in customer service and delivering excellence to each and every person.” However, he said the decision on my case was already made, and there was nothing else he could do for me. Then he added, “I’m trying to be really honest with you. I’m in the business for helping people, and I want to make sure that I’m doing my part to make us close any gaps and make the process as smooth as possible for you, and unfortunately I don’t make any of those decisions.” I asked him to clarify Hyundai’s conclusion letters. He simply said, “That was the decision they made.” Then I called the Hyundai Recall Campaign Center and spoke with supervisor Ethan. He suggested that “someone that doesn’t know how to write out a letter” could have composed the conclusion letters. Ethan concluded, “Honestly, those letters just sound ridiculous.” I wrote a letter to Dave Zuchowski, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America. He didn’t address my customer service experiences or answer why Hyundai didn’t want to test my car in post-accident condition. He said, “We continue to believe that our previous response is accurate and that your accident did not involve a product defect.” Do you think Hyundai was correct in refusing my request to test my car with the same yaw-rate sensor and ESC system at the time of the accident as part of the recall? Do you think Hyundai provided me great customer service? Do you think my next car should be a Hyundai?
Can NOT reccomend this car
veevolt,03/20/2013
I hope a ton of people read Edmunds reviews and will not be lured in by Hynundais pleasing designs and high option content. I see there are others here that are dissapointed! I had TWO 2012 Elantras, the first one bought back due a intermitent "no start" problem that the dealership cound not fix. We had car #1 for about 3 months. Car #2 has suffered from several stall outs, this happens in the City, or on the Highway. My bluetooth has never worked right, cruise control worked when it wanted to, had a clunk in the front suspension from 8k miles, the engine developed a nasty ticking sound at idle, and of course the fuel mileage, I've seen best 28 mpg while drafting a semi in Montana. avg is 25

Features & Specs

MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
148 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
148 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
148 hp @ 6500 rpm
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
145 hp @ 6300 rpm
See all Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat4 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.9%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Hyundai Elantra

Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra Overview

The Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra is offered in the following submodels: Elantra Sedan. Available styles include GLS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6M), GLS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A), Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A), and GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS is priced between $5,000 and$10,598 with odometer readings between 76023 and144291 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS PZEV is priced between $6,790 and$10,998 with odometer readings between 70021 and73807 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited PZEV is priced between $9,997 and$9,997 with odometer readings between 45333 and45333 miles.

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Which used 2012 Hyundai Elantras are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Hyundai Elantra for sale near. There are currently 13 used and CPO 2012 Elantras listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,000 and mileage as low as 45333 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

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Find a used Hyundai Elantra for sale - 9 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $20,467.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 6 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $10,730.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Elantra for sale - 10 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $22,571.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 8 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $23,669.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Hyundai Elantra?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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