The Elantra sedan is the bread-and-butter four-door offering in Hyundai's compact vehicle lineup, which also includes the two-door Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT hatchback. The Elantra blends an eye-grabbing design with the high level of standard features for which Hyundai has become known.
Though it largely looks the same as before, the Elantra has been thoroughly updated underneath the sheetmetal for the latest model year. Notable revisions include a more refined and technology-packed interior, the availability of Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service and a new Sport trim level with a retuned suspension and a more powerful engine.
One of the more stylish sedans in its segment, the Elantra is characterized by Hyundai's now-familiar fluidic sculpture design language, which is intended to evoke the interplay of wind with rigid surfaces to create the illusion of constant motion. Distinct character lines that run from the front doors through the door handles before terminating in the taillights lend a bit of an edge to the car's organic look.
New details such as a reshaped front bumper, reworked headlights with LED accents, and fresh foglights arrived as part of the Elantra's recent refresh, although most casual observers will be hard-pressed to spot the differences. Regardless, the Elantra remains a handsome offering.
More substantial changes arrived inside, where the flowing dashboard has been reworked with higher-mounted, more effective air vents along with more user-friendly stereo and HVAC controls. All Elantras save the base model gain a 4.3-inch touchscreen audio system and a rearview camera as standard equipment, while a new navigation system with a seven-inch touchscreen and Pandora radio integration is an optional extra.
Hyundai's useful Blue Link telematics service is another new addition to the Elantra, bringing with it a wide variety of function and services like voice text messaging, point-of-interest web search and download, automatic collision notification, and remote vehicle unlocking in addition to traffic, weather, restaurant and nearby gas station information.
Interior space remains plentiful, with a slightly confining roofline that impedes second-row headroom being the Elantra's only flaw when it comes to passenger comfort. Trunk space measures a midsize sedan-rivaling 14.8 cubic feet.
Cabin noise levels are down for the latest model year due to a plethora of NVH-combating measures, including extra A-pillar foam, a full underbody cover and anti-vibration dash panel material.
Power and Handling
In standard form, the Elantra is motivated by a 1.8-liter inline-four with 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, although the stick is not available on the Limited trim level. Fuel economy checks in at 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with either transmission.
A new addition to the range is a more potent 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. Available only with the Elantra Sport trim level, the motor returns 24/35 mpg when paired with a six-speed automatic; mileage ratings for the standard six-speed manual have not yet been released.
More than just a bigger engine, the Sport also features a buttoned-down suspension with stiffer dampers and rear springs along with a larger front stabilizer bar. A reworked electric assist steering system with a quicker ratio is also included (non-Sport models get driver-adjustable steering), as are unique two-tone 17-inch wheels, aluminum pedals and a rear spoiler.
Trim Level Breakdown
Hyundai offers the Elantra in SE, Sport and Limited trim levels. Notably, the SE replaces last year's GLS model.
The SE comes standard with the 1.8-liter motor and six-speed manual transmission in addition to air-conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, a telescopic steering wheel, a six-speaker, 172-watt AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD stereo with USB and AUX input jacks, and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The SE can be spruced up with the Preferred Package, which adds a 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display with rearview camera, heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity with voice command functionality, 16-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, cloth inserts for the doors, a sliding center armrest, illuminated vanity mirrors and an illuminated ignition.
The Sport adds all of the content in the Preferred Package as standard, while also bringing the more powerful 2.0-liter engine, a retuned suspension, revised steering system, leather upholstery, aluminum pedals, rear spoiler, a sunroof, front LED accent lights, LED taillights and 17-inch wheels.
The Limited builds on the SE with Preferred Package's features with leather upholstery, heated rear seats, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service, front LED accent lights, LED taillights and 17-inch wheels.
Optional on the Limited is the Limited Technology Package, which adds a navigation system with seven-inch display, a 360-watt premium audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto on/off headlights and a proximity key entry with electronic push-button start and an immobilizer.
All Elantra models come standard with dual front, front side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
Car shoppers looking at the Elantra should also check out the sporty Ford Focus sedan, the dated but indestructible Toyota Corolla and the Americanized Volkswagen Jetta.