40-MPG Battle: Elantra Beats Focus To 2012 Car Of The Year

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Last year, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt struck a winning blow for green vehicles everywhere by taking the 2011 North American Car Of The Year (NACOTY) title.

This year, another fuel-efficient vehicle has strode to the title - the 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

It's seen off competition from the Volkswagen Passat, and more importantly for Hyundai, its Ford rival, the Focus. Both Ford and Hyundai offer models that hit 40mpg according to their EPA highway ratings.

Of course, it isn't always that straightforward. To buy a Focus that achieves 40 mpg highway, you'll need to spend a little extra on Ford's SFE package.

Hyundai's 40 mpg rating hasn't all been plain sailing either. Last month, the Consumer Watchdog organization called for the EPA to re-test the Elantra, as several drivers had been struggling to get gas mileage much about the mid-20s. The EPA's original test gave the Elantra a combined rating of 33 mpg.

When we tested a 2011 Hyundai Elantra sedan last April, we managed a combined rating of over 34mpg, and the maker stands by its EPA numbers.

Doubts cast aside, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra was rated by the NACOTY judges for its spacious cabin and impressive economy, whether equipped with manual or automatic transmissions. Hyundai also previewed an electric model at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, with a potential range of over 120 miles.

The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque took the gong for North American Truck Of The Year, beating the Honda CR-V and BMW X3.

For more news from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, head over to our dedicated show page.


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Comments (5)
  1. I just drove an Elantra and it's pretty solid, as good as a Civic or Corolla, but for about $1000 less comparably equipped, with better warrantees. The Koreans are fiercely competitive and get lower salaries and few benefits compared to UAW workers. The Cruze is competitive, but the Consumer Report reliability rating is dismal. When is GM going to make a car as reliable as a Civic or Coralla?

  2. Marty, your head is way overexposed in the first few shots, and in the last shot, you have a big shadow over your left eye socket which is not very flattering. Next time, hire a professional videographer who owns a fill light and a servo zoom on the lens so it's not so jerky. I just love these amateurs with cheap point and pray DSLR's. The framing is all wrong, as well. Better video will get your reports more respect.

  3. Note: the automatic trans is a $2k upgrade in the Elantra!

  4. What did this Elantra introduce that was "important"? ... nothing.
    I average over 40 mpg with my `09 Focus 4-door (unless its rainy), and it's not SFE.

  5. How about comparing the Leaf too?

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