Test Drive: 2012 Hyundai Elantra Limited sedan

?Hyundai Elantra even better for 2012?

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Last year Hyundai redesigned and reengineered the popular Hyundai Elantra sedan. following just over a four-year lifecycle. The dramatic makeover took place well before the prior generation became stale or outlived its popularity and appeal ? a highly unusual occurrence in the world of automobile production, as many vehicle lifespans are often 5 – 6 years or more.

The award-winning Elantra competes in the marketplace with the likes of the?Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Nissan Sentra and?Mazda 3 ? certainly no lightweight lineup. The 2012 Elantra will continue to be?available in two trim levels ? the base GLS and top-of-the-line Limited. Both?models are powered by a new NU 1.8-liter DOHC, 16-valve with CVVT inline four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with Multi-point fuel injection. The engine makes 148 horsepower at 6,500 rpm while developing 131 pound feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. The engine, weighing in at 74 pounds less than the 2.0-liter Beta engine that preceded it, and is not only lighter, but delivers more power as well. The 2.0-liter Beta engine of its predecessor.

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There continues to be two transmission choices: an M6CF3-1 six-speed manual gearbox, or a six-speed AG6F1 Shiftronic automatic with manual shift capability. The engine sits sideways up front, and drives the front wheels.

Fuel economy expectations are on the way to achieving Hyundai?s 50-mpg goal by 2025, with a city rating of 29 mpg and highway rating of 40 mpg regardless of transmission choice. Elantra?s highway only range is 512 miles per tank.

The 2012 Elantra gets even better with the implementation of a new ActiveECO System that provides real-world fuel economy by modifying engine and transmission control to smooth out throttle response. In addition to the ActiveECO System, the new 2012 Elantra now provides several new convenience features to enhance passenger comfort. Added highlights include: a dual-shell horn for improved sound; new steering calibration for better on-center feel; fog lights added to GLS Preferred Package; passenger-side sun visor extension added to GLS Preferred Package; an optional roadside assistance kit; and new exterior color choices.

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra represents a positioning in the marketplace by taking a sportier stance. The design language reflects Hyundai?s overall styling without invading the interior accommodations.

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The interior design takes on the same fluidic motion or sculpted styling cues as the exterior. The center console offers a flowing appearance, with ergonomic and intuitive placement of gauges and switchgear. The seating is constructed of eco-friendly soy-foam material. The EPA rating places the Elantra in the mid-size range ? a class above both the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, and it actually boasts more interior volume than some premium level vehicles such as VW?s CC, Nissan?s Maxima and the Acura TSX. Elantra provides multiple storage areas, with more storage capacity than many key competitors.

The Elantra incorporates large quantities of high strength steel, ensuring a strong, light and stiff body, made possible in part to the fact that Hyundai is the only automaker with its own steel plant.

The 2012 Elantra provides a full complement of safety features as well, with six airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, ABS with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Brake Assist along with daytime running lights and new dual rear door beams. Elantra also stops shorter than the Civic, Corolla and Mazda3.

The Elantra GLS is well equipped with many standard features, while offering a host of premium optional features and equipment, such as heated rear seats. The Limited edition Elantra obviously delivers more features and equipment with a minimal increase in expenditure. The Nav screen is an impressive 7-inches ? larger than the competitive set.

Elantra?s interior pillars display a cloth-look of fibrous tissue and volcanic rock for both a unique appearance and increased durability.

My test 2012 Hyundai Elantra came in Limited trim, finished outside in Harbor Gray metallic and inside in Charcoal and Black. The base sticker read $20,445., while adding the Technology Package with Navigation system featuring the 7? screen; a Rearview camera, a 360W Premium audio system with digital external amp, automatic headlamps, Proximity key entry with Electronic push-button start and immobilizer; Carpeted floor mats; iPod cable; and Inland Freight and Handling charge kicked the final tally up to $22,675.

SUMMARY:? The Elantra was the fourth vehicle in Hyundai?s 24/7 version 2.0 product initiative with seven new models planned in the next 24 months, following the all-new Tucson, Sonata and Equus ? a bold undertaking to be sure.

This newest Elantra delivers interesting perspectives such as: the fact that a compact car can be sleek and modern while providing an emotional and sophisticated design; that? it can offer advanced safety features at affordable prices; and that it delivers exceptional room in a compact car, virtually eliminating the need for a mid-size sedan; and, it yields the fuel economy of a subcompact vehicle in the form of a compact sedan.

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The ride quality of the 2012 Elantra is quite comfortable. The handling characteristics deliver a positive on-center feel. Acceleration is peppy in and around town and even on the highway. Steep grades at freeway speeds when attempting to pass presents a somewhat different scenario ? a turbocharged version engine would be a plus here, and will probably be in Elantra?s future before long.

In the final analysis, the 2012 Elantra Limited sedan is an extremely attractive sedan with a surprising level of amenities and features at an affordable price, especially considering its content. Add Hyundai?s outstanding warranty program to the equation, and the Elantra becomes not only better, but also even more attractive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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