Everything you need to know
The Hyundai Elantra is a very good compact sedan all-rounder. As are many of its chief rivals.
With so many car makers offering a considerable array of models nowadays, it’s perhaps unsurprising to know that there are several segments of the new car market that are genuinely and fiercely competitive. One such sector is the compact family sedan division, which pretty much every mainstream car maker operating in the United States has a foothold in. Even more interestingly, this class is made up of several very good cars – of which the Hyundai Elantra sedan is one of. As a result, even though it’s a ‘ticks all the boxes’ kind of car, the Hyundai Elantra is a compact sedan we can’t quite say you should opt for over its chief competition.
Spacious and nicely assembled, if perhaps a little bit cheap-feeling in places
Build quality is overall very good, with a pleasant and sturdy feel to the cabin, and the simplified control scheme on the center console.
Considering the Hyundai Elantra has a starting price of $17,000, it’s maybe a little too harsh on us to criticize some aspects of the interior’s material quality that aren’t quite to our liking. That’s not to say we won’t mention the fact there are some scratchy plastics dotted about the cabin, but it does at least mean we won’t hold Hyundai to ransom for it. Especially as we really do like most of what the Hyundai Elantra’s interior offers. Build quality is overall very good, with a pleasant and sturdy feel to the cabin, and the simplified control scheme on the center console being a noteworthy aspect that improves ease of use. That said, we would prefer the touchscreen infotainment display to have been a little bit bigger.
Who Buys Hyundai Elantra?Calculations are based on data from KKF, NHTSA and Department of Motor Vehicles using CarBuzz's proprietary algorithm.
32% men vs 68% women
Hyundai Elantra Owners vs. US Average
African American -5%
One particularly useful touch that sets the Hyundai Elantra apart from its rivals is the powered trunk lid.
Interior space is fairly generous by the class, though don’t go expecting best-in-class volume via the EPA’s official ‘mid-sized’ designation for the Hyundai Elantra. Through overall head and leg room is pretty good, it does lag behind what a Toyota Corolla and the class-leading Honda Civic can provide, and the 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space is again about above-average for the compact segment. As with occupant room, the trunk does at least offer enough space to get most buyers by. The opening itself is broad, and the cargo cavity itself is a usefully boxy shape, and you can extend the space even further by folding down the rear seat backs. One particularly useful touch that sets the Hyundai Elantra apart from its rivals is the powered trunk lid. Stand near the back of the car with the key fob in your hand or pocket, and the lid will pop open by itself – making it that bit easier for those with their hands filled with shopping bags or more cumbersome items to stow the paraphernalia into the Elantra. We would, though, prefer it even more if it raised the lid fully, rather than just raising halfway.
The best word to sum up the Hyundai Elantra’s driving manners? “Fine”
For sure, we’d prefer a bit more heft from the steering so it didn’t feel overly light and lifeless.
If you consider yourself to be a driving enthusiast who wants the most involving and entertaining compact family sedan to drive, then the Hyundai Elantra will likely disappoint you. Those of you with those kinds of demands will be far more satisfied with the extra tactility of a Mazda 3 or Ford Focus, That being said, the Hyundai Elantra isn’t bland or horrible to drive. For sure, we’d prefer a bit more heft from the steering so it didn’t feel overly light and lifeless, but you do acclimatize yourself to the lack of feedback fairly promptly (especially if your current car already has a similar setup), and the numbness of the steering is at least countered by its more acceptable responsiveness.
The Hyundai Elantra overall gets the job done.
Likewise, ride quality and body lean suppression when cornering is fairly good and satisfactory, if not totally exemplary (over rougher surfaces, the Hyundai Elantra can feel a little bit jittery), and overall gets the job done. A similar story can be said about noise refinement levels, which can be best summed up as “good, if not exactly top of the class”. At least overall visibility is good. Whilst some cars in this class do limit the view out as a result of their sedan bodystyles and often chunky pillars, the Hyundai Elantra is easy by class standards to see out of. Granted, the view out the back is perhaps hemmed in a little bit too much for out liking, but we are talking by a tiny amount.
Shame the best engine’s exclusive to one trim
The smaller engine’s turbocharger helps to have a superior 156 lb-ft of torque on tap.
Shame the best engine’s exclusive to one trim Of the two four-cylinder gasoline engines on offer in the Hyundai Elantra, there’s one that stands out as our pick of the range: the 1.4-liter unit found in the Elantra Eco model. In our opinion, it’s that bit better to use on a day-to-basis than the other option (a 2.0-liter available in every other Elantra model). Though the 128-hp output means the 1.4 is 19-hp down on the 2.0-liter, the smaller engine’s turbocharger helps to have a superior 156 lb-ft of torque on tap – for reference, the 2.0-liter ‘only’ has 132 lb-ft to play with. Crucially, though, the 1.4’s torque is available from far further down (and, indeed, across quite a broad spread of) the rev range, meaning you don’t need to work it as hard as the 2.0-liter in order to bring the Hyundai Elantra up to speed. It also helps that the 1.4 is also exclusively available with a slick-shifting, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that suits the character of the engine by keeping that aforementioned torque spread more accessible for more of the time.
It’s also worth pointing out that the 2.0-liter is still a fairly refined engine.
That’s not to say the six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic on the 2.0-liter engine aren’t good or equally well matched to their respective powerplant (the six-speed auto, in fact, is pretty good in our books). However, if we were to choose our preferred powertrain setup in the Hyundai Elantra, it would have to be the smoother, more refined, more tractable and more efficient 1.4-liter option. We’d be lying, though, if we said those economy gains are that big on paper. It’s claimed the Elantra Eco can return 32mpg and 40mpg in the city and on the highway respectively (for reference, the 2.0-liter auto can return 29mpg and 38mpg in the same categories, with the manual trailing even further with its 26mpg and 36mpg figures). It’s also worth pointing out that the 2.0-liter is still a fairly refined engine, if perhaps a little bit gruff when you rev the engine out a bit. Perhaps the big drawback of the 1.4-liter option, though, is that it’s isolated to just the Eco trim – meaning you’ll need to spend at least $20,650 just to own one. In comparison, you can tick all the option boxes on the $17,150 entry-level SE model and still have a car with all of the Eco’s equipment for $20,250.
Good value – even if you’re so inclined to load the Elantra up with extras
The Hyundai Elantra can be good value for money.
As we alluded to in the closing paragraph of the prior segment, the Hyundai Elantra can be good value for money. Even the base car has a broad complement of airbags, satellite radio, the pop-up trunk lid we mentioned earlier and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel as standard, with the Eco further fleshing out the tech roster with blind-spot warning, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, a reversing camera and a touchscreen infotainment system. Plus, and again as we mentioned earlier, all the Eco’s standard gear can be installed as optional extras on the Elantra SE, with the $800 Popular Equipment pack that we reckon SE buyers should consider guessing adding the touchscreen, the reversing camera and cruise control.
The five-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper warranty itself is very good by class standards.
Even the flagship Limited model is decent value for money, though is a bit harder to justify. All it really adds to the party are leather upholstery and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, which doesn’t really sound like a lot for a nearly $2,000 premium over the Eco model. Things do become a bit more reasonable when you load the car up with options ($28,000 for a compact sedan with a premium hi-fi, emergency autonomous braking, lane keeping assists, heated rear seats sounds fairly reasonable, but we’d be lying if we said the Elantra Eco probably has all the equipment you’ll really need on a day-to-day basis. Especially as the Hyundai Elantra should be kind to you in the long term. Going on the last-gen Elantra’s residuals, the current car should hold its value fairly well, so you should get a decent amount of your money back come resale time. The warranties, though, are what set the Hyundai Elantra apart from its core rivals. The five-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper warranty itself is very good by class standards, but it’s the 10-years/100,000-miles warranty for the powertrain that puts the Hyundai in a class of its own.