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Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai, Elantra, 40 mpg, fuel efficiency, green car, green automotive design, green vehicle, green transportation, test drive, Laura Cowan, Laura K. Cowan

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