Is the 2012 Hyundai Elantra a Good Car?

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a sporty, economical, compact sedan. As the second year of the fifth generation, including 2011 through the 2015 year models, the 2012 Elantra remained largely unchanged from the previous year except for a new drivetrain management system that increased real-world fuel economy. So let’s explore the 2012 Hyundai Elantra further to find out if it is a good car.

A white 2012 Hyundai Elantra on display at an auto show.
A 2012 Hyundai Elantra at an auto show | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra appears to be a solid choice

Every 2012 Hyundai Elantra featured the same 148 horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 131 lb-ft of torque but came with either an automatic or manual transmission. 

The EPA estimated fuel economy at 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, the same as the 2011 Elantra. However, according to AutoBlog, Hyundai claims that its new drivetrain management system, ActiveECO, increases “real-world fuel economy by up to 7 percent” for Elantras equipped with automatic transmissions.

U.S. News says reviewers appreciated the 2012 Elantra’s interior design and cabin materials, making it feel more luxurious than its price point indicates. They also praised the Elantra’s “spacious” front seats, ample rear-seat legroom, and the available heated rear seats. 

While power windows, power locks, and keyless entry come standard, heated seats and air conditioning are optional. Trim levels for the 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedan include the GLS, equipped with either a manual or automatic transmission, and the Limited, equipped solely with an automatic transmission. 

Plus, if the sedan doesn’t excite you, there’s also an Elantra Wagon.

How safe is the 2012 Hyundai Elantra?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2012 Elantra with its Top Safety Pick, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it five stars. 

However, while the 2012 Elantra meets the requirements for safety equipment such as airbags, child seat attachment points, and electronic stability control, it doesn’t provide any additional driver safety assist features found on other cars in the class.

What are the most common problems with the 2012 Hyundai Elantra?

Based on data from CarComplaints, the most common problems plaguing the 2012 Hyundai Elantra revolve around its engine. Reported problems range from ticking noises emanating from the engine compartment to complete engine failures. 

The most commonly reported repair involves replacing at least part of the engine, which could cost upwards of $5,000.

Other problems, such as electrical system failures and fuel system issues, also occur occasionally. However, these issues aren’t exclusive to the 2012 model year, as the entire fifth generation receives several complaints. Engine complaints lead to 2013 being the worst year for the Hyundai Elantra.

Is this car worth buying used?

By all accounts, a used 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a great vehicle. Although it might not be as sporty as a comparable Mazda3 or Ford Focus, the 2012 Elantra gets excellent fuel economy, provides a comfortable interior, and presents an attractive exterior at an affordable price.

However, remember that every individual car is different. If you’re looking at a 10-year-old car make sure to take it for a test drive or have it inspected by a trusted mechanic.