Ted LaturnusHyundai’s 2012 edition of the Elantra Touring was kind of an in-between vehicle. The hatchback entered the North American market for the first time in 2009 but received a complete overhaul in 2011.

Hyundai was quick to point out that the Touring was not just the Elantra sedan with a different body configuration. It was actually a separate vehicle, designed in Germany, sold in Europe as the i30, and manufactured in Korea and the Czech Republic. Apparently, models shipped to Canada in 2012 came from Korea.

Differences between the 2010, ’11 and ’12 versions are slight, mainly suspension tweaks and minor styling upgrades.

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The Touring has the same powertrain as the sedan and comes in three basic trim levels: L, GL and GLS. Power output for the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is 138 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with 136 foot-pounds of torque. You can choose from a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

This body configuration is just about as versatile as you can get in this market. Folding down the back seats reveals 1,848 litres of cargo room; you don’t have to remove the headrests to lower the rear seats. Unfortunately, they don’t fold completely flat.

Hyundai also did a nice job on the sheet metal of this model – this is one of those occasions when the wagon version is more pleasing to the eye than its sedan counterpart.

Depending on the model, the Touring comes with a reasonably high complement of standard equipment. Air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering, one-touch driver’s side window and power door locks all come with the popular GL, as do heated front seats and a cooled glovebox. The base L, however, lacks virtually all of the amenities mentioned.

There are four safety recalls to report: two about sketchy interior upholstery, one for faulty brake components and a fourth for a possibly faulty 12-volt accessory socket.

A sampling of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complaints for this one:

  • “it stalled at a red light, the engine puttered, and it failed to shift gears at 20-25 mph and 40-50 mph”;
  • “collision to driver’s side door, driver’s side airbags did not deploy”;
  • “pulls to the right while accelerating and travelling at 50 mph (80 km/h)”;
  • “while on a trip, the engine light came on and transmission started to slip. Dealer told me it was cheap gas.”

Still, NHTSA gave this iteration of the Elantra Touring its highest five-star safety rating.

Consumer Reports gave the 2012 Elantra Touring a decent used car prediction. Says CR: “This version of the Elantra was a well-rounded competitor with rankings near the top of our small-sedan ratings. An easy car with which to live, the Hyundai combines nimble handling with comfort and a well-controlled ride. The car also offers a neatly laid out and well-equipped interior. However, the coupe-like styling dictates a beltline that swoops upward toward the rear. This can impede the view to the rear quarters.”

From a base price of just under $16,000 in 2012, the Elantra Touring has fared reasonably well. Base manual gearbox L models appear to start around $8,000, while a loaded GLS seems to go for somewhere in the $10,000 neighbourhood. The most popular version, the GL, fetches from about $10,000 to $13,000, depending on mileage and equipment level.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Original base price: $15,799
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
Horsepower: 138
Torque: 136 foot pounds
Transmission: four-speed automatic or five-speed manual
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.7 city and 6.5 highway, with automatic transmission and regular gas
Alternatives: Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda3, Kia Rondo, Volkswagen City Golf, Saturn Astra, Suzuki SX4 hatchback, Nissan Versa, Subaru Impreza

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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