I chose the 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring over the Mazda3 hatch, the Kia Forte 5-door and the Subaru Impreza for several reasons: Cargo space, level of equipment, warranty, purchase price and mature design all played a role. After two years, I continue to be pleased with my choice.
Materials & workmanship
For the price, the materials used in the interior are very good. After two years, no wear is visible. There are no rattles or vibration.
The fuel economy of the car has been exactly as advertised, unlike the new Elantra design. The Elantra Touring has consistently recorded 27 mpg in city driving and 33+ mpg in highway driving.
This car, with the manual transmission, is a blast to drive. It's not in the class of a MINI for handling, but it corners well and feels responsive and capable.
The cargo capacity is amazing and was probably the deciding reason why I chose this car over the Mazda3 hatch. We've taken several long-distance trips (1,500-2,000 miles) and have been able to carry lots of stuff with us without discomfort.
Safety & braking
The safety features are at the top of the class. Four wheel disc brakes, ABS, traction control, electronic stability control and sturdy construction for its weight.
The engine could use a little more pep. 138 HP and five speeds on the manual transmission are ok, but 160 HP and six speeds would be better. The four-speed automatic transmission makes the car a lot less fun.
The factory equipment Kumho performance low-profile tires were disappointing. Switched to better, all-season tires and tire performance is much better.