Another day, another award for Hyundai. And this time, it's among the most prestigious honors. The Hyundai Elantra defeated the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Focus and was selected as 2012 North American Car of the Year.
A jury of 50 independent North American automotive journalists evaluated each of the new cars introduced last year and chose the 2012 Hyundai Elantra at a news conference at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The honor marks Hyundai’s second win. The Hyundai Genesis was named North American Car of the Year in 2009.
“Elantra speaks to the success of our recipe of bold design and great fuel economy,” said John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor America. “In a year with some truly breakthrough competitors, we are honored that the jury recognizes Elantra’s far-reaching impact on the industry.”
The jurors considered more than 50 new vehicles, with Volkswagen Passat and Ford Focus as the other finalists in the 19th year of the awards.
Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille and detailed swept-back headlights give Elantra a compact athletic face. The assertive stance is complimented by 15-, 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels and athletic proportions. Available fog lights and side repeater mirrors complete the distinct design. Elantra was designed at Hyundai's North American Design Center in Irvine, Calif.
Elantra’s standard fuel economy is EPA-rated at 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, amd 33 mpg combined, with the six-speed automatic transmission or manual transmission. These figures give Elantra a highway-only driving range of up to 500 miles. Elantra’s strong EPA ratings are backed up by the highest owner satisfaction with real-world fuel economy in the compact class, according to data from J.D. Power and Associates.
The Elantra is powered by an all-new 1.8-liter Nu four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque (145 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque for Elantra PZEV).
Most Elantras sold in California, Oregon and several Northeast states are certified as Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (PZEV) by the EPA. The PZEV Elantra is as clean as many hybrid electric vehicles. The PZEV Elantra helps Hyundai meet its environmental commitments. Outside of these “green” states, the Elantra is available as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).
With the Elantra’s record 186,361 sales in the United States in 2011, Hyundai also achieved record sales of 645,691 units in the U.S. in 2011, a 20 percent increase from 2010.
Article Last Updated: January 9, 2012.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.