After testing a group of compacts and subcompacts, Consumer Reports has judged the Hyundai Elantra SE the best in segment with an ‘Excellent’ rating in the overall road test score. Three other compact cars, the Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus, also achieved ‘Very Good’ ratings in the latest comparo published in the influential magazine’s July issue.

The Corolla achieved the best fuel-economy rating, scoring 32mpg overall in the magazine’s real-world tests and is one of the best results for a conventional petrol-powered car with an automatic transmission. Only the smaller Honda Fit (32mpg) and Toyota Yaris (33mpg) subcompacts did as well or better.

The Elantra's top rating in the small sedans class shows how far Hyundai has come in the last decade. Its cars used to be unreliable and unrefined, and typically scored near the bottom in previous results. The car was picked for being a well-rounded package, with a quiet and comfortable ride, reasonable price ($17,980 as tested), excellent braking and very secure emergency handling.

Of the tested vehicles, only the Elantra, Impreza, and Focus were recommended (testers didn’t have reliability data yet on the redesigned Corolla). Chevrolet’s Cobalt and Aveo scored too low to be recommended.