2012 Green Car Buyer’s Guide, Hyundai

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The Ultimate Green Car Buyer’s Guide > Hyundai

2012 Green Car Buyer’s Guide, Hyundai

2012 model year highlights from Hyundai: the Accent, Elantra, Sonata Hybrid and Veloster.


Compiled by Megan E. Phelps, John Rockhold,
Hannah Kincaid, Emily Glover,
Bradley Berman and Zach McDonald

See “What the Numbers Mean” in The Ultimate Green Car Buyer’s Guide, 2012 for a full description of the metrics we collected for each model.

Hyundai Accent

Gasoline, Compact or Hatchback

Price Range: $13,300 – $17,700
City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 30/40/33
Annual Fuel Cost: $1,700
Air Pollution Score: 5
Greenhouse Gas Score: 8
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: 50/Above Average
Safety Ratings: 4-star NHTSA rating
Space: 90.1 cu. ft. p.v./seats 5
Drive Score: 4
Similar Used: Redesigned for 2012

Good to Know:

  • Hyundai made major upgrades to the Accent for 2012. Its 138 horsepower and 30/40-mpg rating offers the best combination of performance and efficiency in its class.
  • The new fourth-generation Accent features radically updated body styling, a larger interior and a 1.6-liter, 138-horsepower engine.
  • The stripped-down version of the Accent is truly bare-bones: It comes with manual transmission, roll-up windows and no air conditioning.
  • The automatic Accent costs about $2,700 more than the base model with manual transmission. The more versatile hatchback similarly sends up the price compared with the four-door variant.
  • The model doesn’t have as much cargo space as the competing Honda Fit or Mazda 2.
  • The Accent’s low price means some of the materials, such as floor mats and armrests, feel cheap. Also, Hyundai doesn’t offer a navigation system or sunroof at any level of trim, unlike rival models from Ford and Chevrolet.

What the Press Says:

  • “Better to drive, quicker, and way more refined than before, the Hyundai Accent is now a compelling choice. Rivals offer a sportier feel, but the Accent is comfortable, spacious and imbued with refinement that many competitors can’t match.” — Car and Driver
  • “Given the Accent’s focus on fuel economy, we expected a somewhat limp driving experience, and while this isn’t the sportiest vehicle in the segment, we weren’t disappointed by the hatchback’s acceleration, handling or on-road manners.” — Autoblog

Hyundai Elantra

Gasoline, Compact

Price Range:
$16,100 – $21,400
City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 29/40/33
Annual Fuel Cost: $1,700
Air Pollution Score: 5
Greenhouse Gas Score: 8
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: 49/Superior
Safety Ratings: IIHS Top Safety Pick; 5-star NHTSA rating
Space: 95.6 cu. ft. p.v./seats 5
Drive Score: 4
Similar Used: 2011

Good to Know:

  • The Elantra picked up 2012 North American Car of the Year honors.
  • All automatic transmission trims come with Hyundai’s Active Eco System, which improves fuel economy by about 7 percent.
  • Small doesn’t mean unsafe. The Elantra has a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • The car is one of just a few non-hybrids to be rated as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle by the state of California.
  • The Elantra’s drag coefficient — just 0.28 — is among the lowest on the market.

What the Press Says:

  • “The Elantra has all the makings of a sales success: stop-and-stare styling, a fuel-sipping 4-cylinder engine and an optimal blend of ride comfort and handling poise — all at a competitive price. In short, the Elantra is a home run in the compact segment, allowing more drivers to happily enter a fuel-efficient future.” — Cars.com
  • “The Elantra combines nimble handling with a comfortable, well-controlled ride and a neatly laid out, well-equipped interior.” — Consumer Reports

What Drivers Say:

  • “It’s a nice, safe and affordable vehicle, and the warranty is fabulous,” says Whitney Setser of Asheville, N.C., while also pointing out that the most basic model is pretty basic.
  • Other drivers praised the handling of the car and said it has low road noise for such a small car. Most named mpg as their main reason for choosing this vehicle. Reports on real-world gas mileage came in at about 35 mpg, with drivers occasionally getting more than 40 mpg on the highway.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hybrid, Sedan

Base Price:
City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 35/40/37
Annual Fuel Cost: $1,500
Air Pollution Score: 8
Greenhouse Gas Score: 8
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: 47/Above Average
Safety Ratings: IIHS Top Safety Pick; 5-star NHTSA rating
Space: 103.8 cu. ft. p.v./seats 5
Drive Score: 4.5
Similar Used: 2011

Good to Know:

  • Sonata Hybrid gives drivers the first and only lifetime hybrid battery guarantee in the industry.
  • It was the second most popular hybrid — behind the Toyota Prius — in 2011.
  • The Sonata Hybrid starts $6,000 higher than the gas-only Sonata, but it beats its non-hybrid sibling’s fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent.
  • Uses more powerful and lighter lithium-polymer batteries instead of nickel-metal.
  • The Sonata Hybrid is aerodynamic. Its styling — raked windshield, sharp creases, enlarged grill — allow it to match the great aerodynamics of the Toyota Prius (at just 0.25 drag coefficient).

What the Press Says:

  • “The Sonata Hybrid is a comfortable cruiser with little to no trade-off in terms of comfort or performance compared with the gasoline-only 4-cylinder Sonata.” — Cars.com
  • “The Sonata Hybrid isn’t battling the competition on fuel economy alone. It also features attractive styling that sharply differentiates it from the non-hybrid Sonata models, while also carrying an MSRP thousands of dollars less than the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid.” — Autoblog

What Drivers Say:

  • “I love my Sonata Hybrid. It doesn’t deliver Prius-like mpg numbers, but for those who want hybrid features in a spacious, very well-appointed car, it fits the bill nicely. The ride is really comfortable, interior cabin is surprisingly nice, there’s tons of space in the back seat, and plenty of trunk space.” — Trevor Einstein, Portland, Maine

Hyundai Veloster

Gasoline, Hatchback

Base Price:
City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 29/38/32
Annual Fuel Cost: $1,750
Air Pollution Score: 5
Greenhouse Gas Score: 7
ACEEE Green Score and Class Ranking: 48/Above Average
Safety Ratings: N/A
Space: 89.8 cu. ft. p.v./seats 4
Drive Score: 4
Similar Used: New for 2012

Good to Know:

  • The sporty Veloster features a 1.6-liter direct-injection engine and variable valve timing. It’s also available with an EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. These are great examples of ways that gas cars (non-hybrids) are flirting with 40 mpg.
  • The Veloster comfortably seats four, but back seat access is limited to a single rear door on the passenger side. The unique configuration?gives the car a total of four doors (including the hatchback).
  • The turbo edition is expected to hit the market next year. The turbo’s 201-horsepower output will blow away the current base-level Veloster with only a small sacrifice in efficiency, according to Hyundai.
  • The edgy hatch design limits some visibility, a complaint also waged against hybrids such as the Honda CR-Z and the Toyota Prius.

What the Press Says:

  • “The Hyundai Veloster is that rarity among hatchbacks, with evocative styling, a unique asymmetrical three-door layout and respectable performance. Yet the Veloster still achieves fuel economy figures that rival more commonplace cars.” — Edmunds.com
  • “The Hyundai’s third door gives access to the most spacious-feeling rear seats of this group, with good legroom and just enough headroom.” — Automobile
  • “Let’s be clear — the Veloster is a little slip of a vehicle. … It’s also a comparative bantamweight, tipping the scales at as little as 2,584 pounds. That’s not only lighter than its Japanese rivals, it’s less than a Mini Cooper S.” — Autoblog
  • “The Veloster screams performance, but only moderately delivers.” — Motor Trend

More 2012 green cars: Find details about many more green cars from other automakers in The Ultimate Green Car Buyer’s Guide, 2012.

Photos from Hyundai

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