2012 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2012 Hyundai Elantra: Which One Should I Buy?

Mid-size sedans are a large category. These vehicles are well suited for either a large commuter car that is not going to get quite commuter car statistics as far as gas mileage or a smaller sedan option. Think of mid-size cars as the crossover of the car category.

The Sonata is a slight upgrade over the Elantra, offering a larger capacity and the higher price-point to match. Where the Elantra is a mid-range car, the Sonata is certainly on the upper-end of the range, with the base model starting at around $20,000. The additional options on the Sonata more than make up for the extra cost, however.

Hyundai Elantra 2012
2012 Hyundai Elantra

Interior Options

The Sonata’s standard cruise control, metal-look gear shift knob and power-everything outperforms the Elantra’s more modest offerings with plastic/rubber gear shift and trim. Where most options are included in the Sonata, the Elantra has a lot of “optionals”: cargo nets, compass, cruise control, garage door openers, and steering wheel audio controls, these all come standard on the Sonata.

Safety Features

The safety features on the Sonata include numerous airbags, and a Blue Link in-vehicle assistance service as well as standard stolen vehicle tracking and adjustable front seatbelts, halogen lights and fully automatic exterior light controls. Door curb lights, panic alarms, daytime running lights, and first aid kits are included in this higher-end model of the Sonata. The Elantra offers several of these options as well, but for the most part, they are optional instead of the standard available on the Sonata.

Fuel Usage

Not surprisingly, the smaller Elantra offers significantly improved fuel economy with up to 28 mpg in the city and a whopping 38 mpg on the highway. The Sonata is no slouch either, with 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, but there is a real difference when you look at the combined fuel economy: the Elantra beats the Sonata easily with 32 mpg versus 28 for the Sonata. However, the Sonata definitely will take you further between trips with a huge 18.5 gallon gas tank as opposed to the stingy 12.8 gallon tank on the Elantra.

When you are looking for a solid mid-size or larger commuter car, you can’t go wrong with either the Sonata or the Elantra. Hyundai does not make an ideal vehicle, but they are both solid, reliable, cost-effective and very safe for their size.


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