Gallery: TEST DRIVE: We Get 40 mpg From a Non-Hybrid Hyundai Elantra!

See the plus and minus on the gearbox? That's an optional manumatic transmission, where you can flick the gear lever back and forth to change gears almost as quickly as you could in a manual. Leave it in D and it's a full automatic.
See the plus and minus on the gearbox? That's an optional manumatic transmission, where you can flick the gear lever back and forth to change gears almost as quickly as you could in a manual. Leave it in D and it's a full automatic.

The Hyundai Elantra is one of these great new efficient cars. It has a 148-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, but Hyundai has squeezed every drop of efficiency from it to give you up to 40 mpg. The best part is, they have wrapped this up in a luxurious package including leather seats, surround sound, navigation, and heated seats, for only $15,000-$20,000.

The Elantra has an Eco button, like many new cars do, to throttle your driving for maximum efficiency, but like most Eco buttons this seems to just put you in a situation where you have to press the accelerator pedal harder to get the car to do what you need it to do. The car doesn’t have a lot of extra power, so we suggest just driving it in normal mode unless you putter from stoplight to stoplight all day.

So, the new Elantra is as efficient as a small Mazda with SkyActive technology or a Prius driven in the country, and it costs less than your average sedan and offers more, all of which contributed to it being named the 2012 North American Car of the Year. Yes it has a few foibles which you can read about in our photo gallery, but all in all we’re in love. Thanks, Hyundai!

+ Hyundai


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  1. tahrey March 12, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Newsflash: Smallish modern car gets the equivalent of just under 48MPG Imperial.

    World in general snoozes. Europeans say “what, is that all?”. Americans are shocked to the core that it’s possible without adding an electric booster system.

    I just bought a 9-year-old French car that’s just a little smaller than the Elantra. It gets about 45MPG US to the Elantra’s 40, and that’s in everyday semi-urban driving rather than the more forgiving official tests. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that something is a bit haywire inside the system; I’ve had to disconnect the EGR valve to make it run smooth, and by most other people’s reports I should actually be seeing more than 50 (US). If I went out and bought it’s up-to-date equivalent (or indeed, one from a size class directly competing with the Elantra), it would easily post figures in the high 50s/low 60s (US).

    BTW, the Peugeot mentioned is a people-carrier/MPV type family car, somewhat bigger than this Hyundai and not really made for ultimate efficiency. That it gets roughly the same mileage day-to-day (again, vs official test figures) is quite impressive.

    I do have to give the Malaysians (?) some credit though, seeing as they’ve pulled this figure out of a car with automatic shift and presumably at least a 1.8 if not 2.0 litre gasoline engine, compliant with your weird emissions regs. That’s a fair old piece of work right there, getting such a result under those conditions…
    (And really now… 150hp in one of those? That’s still overkill. Permanently engage the Eco button and set about completely failing to realise that you’ve done it, after the first few miles.)

  2. phnipnip March 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm


    You don’t say where you actually reside, so what I say isn’t necessarily definitive, but most European countries will use the Imperial Gallon rather than the US Gallon

    Imperial Gallon = 4.546 Liters
    US Gallon = 3.785 Liters

    If we then convert MPGs to Miles per Liter we get your Peugeot getting 9.678 MPL (at your 44 MPG mark) and the Hyundai at 10.568. Which means it actually gets better mileage than the 3008.

    I’m not trying to be intentionally obtuse, but I just wanted to make sure we are comparing apples to apples.

  3. MJRichards March 5, 2012 at 5:17 am

    40 mpg and you think that’s good ?
    My name is Martin and my latest car is a Peugeot 3008 automatic that averages 44mpg and when on a long distance trip it gets over 50mpg.
    It is powered by a diesel 1.6 turbo charged engine.

    In fact most cars in Europe offer the same sort of economy.

    Its just nice to see that the USA is trying to catch up with the rest of the world. I can say this as I lived and worked in the USA about 3 years ago and found that all of the cars in the USA are 10 to 20 years behind the res tof the world.

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