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Updated Nov. 3, 2023

2012 Hyundai Elantra, Pros And Cons Review, Reliability, Possible Mechanical Issues

Related: How To Get The Best Deal On A "Brand New" Hyundai Elantra

Many car shoppers are now looking for "older" vehicles that have aged well in response to the record breaking prices of both new and used cars. And it turns out that a well-maintained 2012 Elantra has qualified as one that has proven to be a reasonably reliable and durable vehicle for many owners, although there have been some issues.

The stats say a properly cared for 2012 Elantra should last about 200,000 miles. However, the long-term reliability of any vehicle, including this one, can depend on several factors, including how well it has been maintained, the driving conditions it has been exposed to, and the specific vehicle's history. However, as a general guideline, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra has a reputation for being a reasonably reliable and durable vehicle. 2012 Hyundai Elantra

Still, all older used cars require maintenance and repairs, usually more than newer ones, so this has to be factored into any buying decision as well.

So here, we'll review this older Elantra's pros and cons, its general reliability reputation along with specific mechanical issues to have checked out before purchase, plus a feature review of the vehicle from when it came out in 2012.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Vehicle

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Pros

Fuel Efficiency: The 2012 Elantra is known for its excellent fuel economy. It's equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers impressive gas mileage, making it an economical choice for daily commuting and long trips.

Stylish Design: Hyundai gave the Elantra a modern and eye-catching design, which stood out in its segment. It featured a sleek, aerodynamic profile and was well-regarded for its overall aesthetics.

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Roomy Interior: The Elantra's interior offered a surprising amount of space for a compact car. Passengers in both the front and rear seats found it comfortable, and the trunk was also relatively spacious for its class.

Standard Features: Even the base model of this Elantra came equipped with a variety of standard features, including power windows, locks, and mirrors, air conditioning, a CD player, and a USB port.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Cons

Comfort: While the Elantra is known for its spacious interior, some reviewers noted that the ride quality could be a bit firm, especially on rough roads. It may not be as comfortable as some competitors.

Road Noise: Some drivers and passengers found that the Elantra's cabin could be noisy, with road and wind noise being more noticeable than in some other compact cars.

Transmission Issues: Although more common in earlier models, some 2012 Elantra owners reported issues with the automatic transmission, including hesitations and jerky shifts.

Limited Engine Options: The 2012 Elantra came with a single engine option, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder. If you were looking for more power or engine choices, you might have to consider other vehicles in the compact car segment.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Reliability

While individual experiences may vary, many owners and experts have noted the following reliability-related aspects of the 2012 Elantra:

Fuel Efficiency: The Elantra is known for its fuel efficiency, which not only provides cost savings but also tends to indicate a well-tuned and reliable engine. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine in the 2012 model is efficient and has proven to be durable for many owners.

Low Maintenance Costs: The 2012 Elantra generally has lower maintenance and repair costs compared to some of its competitors. Routine maintenance is often straightforward and affordable, and parts are widely available.

Durability: Many owners have reported that their 2012 Elantras have held up well over the years with minimal issues. This indicates that the vehicle was built with an emphasis on reliability.

Steady Resale Value: While the Elantra's resale value may not be as high as some other vehicles, it tends to hold its value reasonably well within its segment. This is a sign of its overall reliability and reputation in the used car market.

Safety Features: The 2012 Elantra often comes equipped with a range of safety features, including stability control, antilock brakes, multiple airbags, and more. These features contribute to the overall reliability of the vehicle in terms of safety.

It's important to note that while the 2012 Elantra has received positive feedback for its reliability, there may still be variations in individual experiences based on factors like maintenance, driving habits, and specific vehicle history. Regular maintenance and servicing are crucial for maintaining the reliability of any vehicle. As the car ages, issues can naturally arise, but overall, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra is generally considered a reliable and economical choice in the compact car segment.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Mechanical Problem Watchlist:

As with any used vehicle, the 2012 Elantra may have specific mechanical issues that can arise over time. While it is generally considered a reliable car, there are some common mechanical problems or issues that owners and potential buyers should be aware of. Here are a few of the more common ones to check for before purchasing:

Transmission Issues: Some owners have reported issues with the automatic transmission, such as hesitation or jerky shifts.

Engine Knocking: Some Elantra owners have experienced engine knocking or ticking noises. This could be due to a variety of factors, including engine wear or a piston issue.

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Suspension and Steering Issues: Some Elantra owners have reported problems with the suspension or steering components, including worn-out bushings and struts. This can affect ride comfort and handling.

Electrical Issues: Electrical problems, such as malfunctioning power windows, door locks, or dashboard warning lights, have been reported by some owners.

A/C Compressor Failures: There have been reports of air conditioning compressor failures in some of these Elantras.

Original 2012 Hyundai Elantra Feature Review

The Hyundai Elantra has been a solid choice in the compact sedan segment for some time now. But the major redesign in 2011 has vaulted it right up among the leaders.

2012 Hyundai Elantra rear view

And the 2012 Elantra again made an appealing case for itself thanks to its attractive design, outstanding fuel economy, long feature list, uplevel options, comfortable ride, and nicely-constructed interior.

Not sitting on their laurels, new for 2012 is an "Active Eco System" which offers a push-button adjustment to throttle response and transmission performance that boosts gas mileage up to 7% (in exchange for a less lively performance when being used) ... a very useful feature with such high prices at the pump.

Overall, this Elantra's four-cylinder engine provides quite respectable power for this class while the interior boasts an attractive and well-designed look. What's more, the 2012 Elantra offers a wide range of electronic and comfort features that are usually available on more upscale cars.

While the 2012 Elantra has much going for it, it's always a good idea to consider other segment leaders before making a final buying decision. Other top picks worthy of consideration in the small car market would include the Chevy Cruze, the Ford Focus, the Honda Civic the Mazda3 and the Volkswagen Jetta.

Trims, Standard Features And Options:

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is a compact sedan offered in a choice of two trims: GLS and Limited.

Standard features on the base GLS include power windows, power doorlocks, power and heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, a trip computer, low-pressure tire warning, intermittent wipers, a rear window defogger, a tilt wheel, a long list of safety features (see below), 15-inch steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and a 6-speaker stereo system with a CD player, an MP3 decoder, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.

In terms of options for the GLS, the Comfort package adds air-conditioning, cruise control, solar glass, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch steel wheels and the Active Eco system (on automatic transmission models). There's also a GLS Preferred package that includes foglamps, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, 16-inch alloy wheels, illuminated vanity mirrors, upgraded interior trim accents and a sliding front center armrest.

Moving up to the Elantra Limited model adds all the features in the GLS Preferred package plus leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Also available is the Limited Technology package which includes keyless entry/ignition, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, navigation, a touchscreen information and entertainment interface, and an upgraded audio system.

Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:

Powering all 2012 Hyundai Elantra models is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 148-horsepower and 131-pound-feet of torque. California-emissions states get a PZEV (partial zero-emissions vehicle) version of this same engine which produces 145-horsepower and 130-pound-feet. All models are front-wheel drive. The GLS comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, while a 6-speed automatic is optional. The Limited is 6-speed automatic only.

The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the 2012 Elantra is impressive, standing at 29 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway with either model or transmission.


The 2012 Elantra is loaded up with a slew of safety features, many not usually provided in this price range. Standard safety features on all models include stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), brake assist, a security system, a panic alarm, front seat side-impact airbags, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags.


The Elantra's cabin is attractive, well-designed and user-friendly, featuring a curved center stack and upscale looking climate controls that add refinement to the overall look and feel of the interior. The materials quality, while perhaps not quite the best in the segment, is commendable and the fit and finish is solid. The Elantra can also be outfitted with luxury features such as leather, a rearview camera, navigation, heated seats and more.

2012 Hyundai Elantra interior

The seating is comfortable and supportive both front and rear, while the overall space is generous for this segment. The headroom is surprisingly ample up front, even for 6-footers. The rear quarters are fine for most passengers. However, while there's plently of legroom, the sloping roofline limits headroom for taller adults. As an added plus for a compact car, the Elantra's trunk still manages to offer a cargo capacity of 14.8 cubic feet.


While not intended to match the sportier handling of rivals such as the Mazda 3 or Ford Focus, the 2012 Elantra offers a very nicely balanced combination of ride comfort and performance, certainly one of the best in this class. The 1.8-liter engine is plenty capable for typical daily driving, the transmission is smooth and the steering is precise. In addition, for a compact economy car the suspension does a better-than-average job of absorbing road bumps and rough spots, while the cabin is relatively quiet.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting The Lowest Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Elantra if the price was crazy good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

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Other Older Models Of Possible Interest:
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2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Hyundai Sonata
2012 Hyundai Sonata
2012 Hyundai Genesis
2011 Hyundai Genesis
2011 Hyundai Accent
2011 Hyundai Santa Fe
Older Used Hyundai Sonata
Older Used Hyundai Genesis
Older Used Hyundai Accent
Older Used Hyundai Santa Fe
Other Older Used Hyundais