I’m thinking about buying a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, but everyone says it’s not reliable and it’s not worth $24,000. They say I should take the 2012 Honda Civic or the 2012 Toyota Corolla because they are reliable and have a better resale value.
Everyone says the Elantra is unreliable? You must not have talked to J.D. Power and Associates, because they say the Elantra is one of the most reliable compact cars.
The Elantra had the second-highest rating behind the Toyota Prius in J.D. Power’s 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, which measured problems on 2008 models during the third year of ownership. In the 2012 study, which measured 2009 models, the Prius was again No. 1, the Corolla was second and the Elantra was third. The Corolla didn’t make the top three in 2011, and the Civic didn’t make it either year, so the Elantra deserves props for reliability.
However, those ratings apply to the previous-generation Elantra, not the current one that was introduced for the 2011 model year. The jury is still out on the dependability of the 2011 and later Elantras, though we haven’t heard of widespread issues among the current generation.
The Corolla was redesigned for 2009, and the model that finished second in the 2012 dependability study is the same car you can buy today with minor changes. The Civic was redesigned for 2012, so the jury is still deliberating on that car as well. If history is a guide, the current Civic will be reliable, but so will the Elantra.
We won’t argue about whether the Elantra is worth $24,000, but that is apparently for a Limited model with the Technology Package. No one is holding a gun to your head and insisting you have to buy the most expensive version. A well-equipped GLS should go out the door for less than $20,000.
On resale value, ALG (formerly Automotive Lease Guide) says the residual value on the Civic is higher than the Elantra, but the Corolla is lower than either. That’s not a surprise because the newest designs generally have the highest residuals.
Our choice would be the Elantra, which won our recent compact-car Shootout. The Civic came in second. Though the Corolla wasn’t part of that competition, we doubt it would have displaced either the Elantra or Civic. Reliability aside, it trails those newer models in fuel economy ratings, room and overall competence.
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