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2012 Hyundai Elantra Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Hyundai Elantra was new.


Interior: 8.6

The 2012 Hyundai Elantra’s interior is impressive. It can come equipped with sought-after features like navigation, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and heated leather back seats on the Limited trim, which is a first for an affordable small car. Some reviewers think the interior plastics are a tad cheap, but because the Elantra is reasonably priced, well-equipped and stylish, the industry is willing to overlook this imperfection.

  • "Inside and out, there's not a cheap part and not a single bad angle. It looks elegant, expensive, and well-built." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "While its outside is categorized as a compact, the Elantra's interior dimensions are midsize." -- AutoWeek
  • "With the exterior nicely trimmed out, we found the interior equally refined. Sure there is the requisite amount of plastic inside, but what’s there looks and generally feels very good." -- Left Lane News
  • "Cabin appointments are stylish. Materials quality is generally good but is a bit shy of class leading. Limited versions add leather upholstery, but few other interior upgrades. Some surfaces look nicer than they feel, but nothing seems inappropriate for the class." -- Consumer Guide


The 2012 Hyundai Elantra is especially roomy in the front, even for passengers and drivers who are 6-feet tall. When it comes to the back seat, however, reviews are more diverse. There’s plenty of leg room, but depending on how tall you are, you might find that head room is limited. The 2012 Elantra comes with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, but it’s only available on Limited models. The steering wheel on the base GLS tilts, but doesn’t telescope. 

  • "There is room aplenty inside for six-foot-plus drivers with six-foot-plus passengers in back." -- AutoWeek
  • "But the biggest difference between base models and their Limited counterparts is the addition of a liberal leather coating inside. Seating surfaces, both front and rear, are swaddled in a perforated hide with a unique wave pattern, and for the first time in this segment, both front and rear passengers get the joy of heated seats. The thrones are double stitched, though Hyundai skipped the typically eye-catching contrasting thread in favor of a color-matched material." -- Autoblog
  • "The roofline slopes gracefully down to the trunk lid, and the rising belt line makes a sharp upturn at the rear or the car, giving the rear side windows a triangular shape. This diminishes backseat-passenger visibility, but it gives the car a distinctive and sporty shape." -- Cars.com
  • "While space is generally good all around, taller passengers won't be happy with the rear seat headroom." -- Motor Trend

Interior Features

The 2012 Elantra doesn’t have the highest quality interior in its class, but paired with a generous options list, the automotive press says the Elantra is an affordable small car that’s borderline luxury.

To get upscale features like Bluetooth and heated leather seats, you’ll have to make several upgrades because the base GLS model only comes with power windows, satellite radio and a USB port. Select the GLS with an automatic transmission, and you can add the Preferred Package for $600, which tacks on Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Standard leather seats and optional navigation are only available on the Limited trim, which starts at about $20,450. The Limited trim includes all the features on the GLS, and adds a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Navigation, push-button start, rearview camera and premium audio system are available with the Limited Technology package, which costs about $2,000.

While the most sought-after optional features like Bluetooth, navigation and a rearview camera are boxed into optional packages, reviewers don’t complain much, probably because they’re impressed that you can get heated leather seats on such an inexpensive car. Reviewers do have a few other complaints, though. One is that interior quality suffers a bit because there are some hard plastics. More than one reviewer finds the center console’s layout rather hard to master.

  • "The gauges are easy to read, and the displays remain clear while wearing polarized sunglasses. The audio controls are handy. The climate controls operate as concentric knobs for temperature and fan speed. It's an unconventional layout that takes a bit of adjustment.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The climate controls are not only easy to use, but far better looking than anything else in this class (and the vent fan is surprisingly quiet.) The infotainment interface is merely okay unless you order navigation-some of the functions require multiple steps to access." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "There's a lot of empty space on that stack, and while the climate control is simple and straightforward, the standard radio ergonomics aren't the best." -- Motor Trend


The 2012 Elantra has 14.8 cubic feet of space, which is one of the largest cargo areas for a sedan in this class. When folded, the rear seats create a 60/40 split pass-through that allows you to use the rear seats and trunk to hold cargo. In comparison, the Honda Civic’s trunk measures 12.5 cubic feet and the Kia Forte sedan has 14.7 cubic feet of space. You won’t find a spare tire in the trunk’s floor compartment. The Elantra lacks one because the added weight reduces fuel economy, and one saves Hyundai money. In its place, you’ll find a tire inflator kit. 

  • "Elantra has a roomy trunk, but the small opening may make for tricky loading of bigger objects. Sickle-style hinges steal a bit of cargo room, but there is additional usable space under the floor. Nice in-cabin small-item storage includes a big console box." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Storage areas are nearly everywhere on the car, including the doors, and center armrests, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the interior designers thoughtful enough to provide a second power port and pocket area near the right front footwell, so the front passenger can have a place to charge his cell phone while the driver can have a radar detector or other device plugged into the port on his side." -- Left Lane News

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