Automakers are clamoring to snag entry-level buyers, but make no mistake — these consumers are far from being low-hanging fruit.
It's a lesson hard learned by Honda this year after members of the media ridiculed what was, by most statues, a very good car. It wasn't so much that Honda struck out with its fifth-generation Civic, as it was that other brands like Hyundai were swinging for the fences.
So here it is, a shootout between the old stalwart and new-school compact coupes that lit the market afire in 2012.
Most people looking seriously at either the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra coupes are less than worried about performance. Instead, it's about looking cool without breaking the bank.
That's something Hyundai nailed with its fluidic design language that leaves the Elantra Coupe looking streamlined and slick. It works especially well in coupe form where the car's short deck lid complements the car's organic lines.
The Civic's exterior won't surprise you. Far from a shocker, it's doesn't get any attention — though a redesigned model is on its way to dealers soon.
Even still, it's hard to look at the 2012 Civic and think it's bad looking. It's just isn't particularly sexy. Regardless, the sharp lines and chiseled rear end have an aesthetic of their own that some might prefer over the Hyundai’s styling.
As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That stands for the exterior of both cars, though step inside and it’s hard not to be more decisive in judgment. It’s hard not to have an opinion that leans heavily in Hyundai's favor.
That's because the Civic has an interior loaded with cheap looking — and feeling — plastic parts. The dashboard is similarly unappealing as it its center stack. Then again, it's easy to understand how it works, which might not be true in the Elantra for drivers coming off an older car. It's something you'll quickly overcome, but worth noting nonetheless.
Read the full comparative 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe VS 2012 Honda Civic Coupe review at AutoGuide.com.