By on August 2, 2013

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

By pure happenstance I ended up with an Elantra GT immediately after reviewing the 2014 Kia Forte sedan. As I said last week in the Forte review, the Elantra and Forte are related, but this isn’t a case of Korean badge engineering. It’s far more complicated. The Forte is the new kid on the block while the Elantra has been around for a few years. At this stage in life, Hyundai is trying to inject vitality into the Elantra name by adding new models. First we got the four-door sedan, then a two-door coupé followed by the Veloster which is just a four-door hatchback Elantra (yes, I know Hyundai calls it a three-door, but I know better). If you’re confused by door counts, the new Elantra GT is a five-door. Say what?

About “them doors.”  We all know a sedan is a four-door because a trunk isn’t a door. (Despite our exclusive Trunk Comfort Index testing.) Likewise we call the Elantra Coupe a two-door but toss a hatch into the mix and, hey-presto, your cargo portal is a door. How does the Veloster fit in? It has three regular doors (two on one side, one on the other) and a hatch. Thankfully Hyundai killed off the awkward looking Elantra Touring wagon leaving nothing to go head to head with the Mazda3 hatch, Focus hatch and Golf. That’s where the GT fits in.


Adding the GT to the lineup puts Hyundai in the unusual position of having more variants of their compact vehicle than any other brand in the USA, and that’s even if you don’t count the Veloster as an Elantra. Part of this is to give customers options the other brands don’t, but it is also to extend the life of the aging Elantra. In 2010 when the Elantra splashed on the scene it was new and exciting, but this is a fiercely competitive segment. In the past three years, the Civic, Forte, Golf and Mazda3 have all been redesigned bringing new and exciting shapes to choose from. In this light the Elantra’s front end is starting to look a old to my eyes, especially when you park it next to the aggressive new Forte. Speaking of that elephant in the room, that 2014 Forte 5-door looks all kinds of hot.

Park the GT next to an Elantra sedan and you’ll notice this isn’t a sedan with a hatch glued on. Instead, the GT rides on a 2-inch shorter wheelbase shared with the Veloster. Along with the reduced wheelbase, Hyundai sliced nearly 9-inches off this sausage slotting the GT between the Veloster and Elantra sedan in overall size. The shorter dimensions made parking the GT easy in tight urban settings even though the GT retains the Elantra’s 34.8-foot turning circle. Despite the platform nip/tuck the GT is the heaviest Elantra variant at a still svelte (well, relatively speaking) 2,745lbs with the manual transmission.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


I took me a few moments to figure out what was going on with the GT’s interior. At first glance the dashboard and controls are familiar, yet this isn’t the same dashboard the Elantra coupé/sedan, or the Veloster. Gone is the “hourglass” center console in favor of a HVAC controls that are larger and easier to use. Our tester had the optional dual-zone climate control system which rearranges the buttons and adds a large blue-backlit display. Although the steering wheel has simply been tweaked with satin “metal” trim, the rest of the interior trappings are a notch above the Elantra sedan and coupe and, depending on where your fingers brush, a notch above the Veloster as well. This is fortunate because with even the Civic going up-market for 2013, the GT could have left the gates at a disadvantage. Thanks to the plastic upgrades, the GT is firmly “middle of the pack.”

Even though the GT is notably shorter and slightly taller than the sedan, folks up front won’t notice much difference. The seats are still supportive and comfortable, but not as easy on the back as the 2013 Civic. You might think the wheelbase reduction would play havoc with rear accommodations but the back seats have slightly more room than in the sedan. Some of that room is thanks to rear seats with a more upright and comfortable profile and some of it comes at the expense of the front seats which get a one inch reduction in travel for GT duty. Getting in and out of those rear seats is easy thanks to large and fairly square door openings. With 23 cubic feet of widget space behind the rear seats and 51 with the rear seats folded, the GT is the most practical Elantra since the dowdy Elantra Touring was mercy killed.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Interior, Infotainment, Navigation, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


The GT may be new for 2013, but the technology is a few years old. Base shoppers may not mind the lack of progress because the standard 6-speaker audio system is one of the best standard audio systems in this segment. The 170 watt system comes with standard AM/FM/XM radio, a single-slot CD/MP3 player, Bluetooth speakerphone and USB/iPod integration. Sadly you won’t find SYNC-like voice command of your tunes or Pandora streaming, but the system has a natural sound and is easy to use.

High-rollers (like me) won’t be able to live without a touchscreen nav unit, but I was disappointed to find the GT doesn’t get the new 8-inch BlueLink system from the Santa Fe. Instead we find the 7-inch “last generation” system found in the regular Elantra. It’s not that the system is objectionable, it just lacks the snazzy new voice commands and smartphone integration ability you find in other Hyundai products. That new Kia Forte hatchback keeps popping in my mind because the 2014 Forte models get the latest Hyundai/Kia infotainment software with smartphone apps, 911 crash notification, vehicle diagnostics and full voice commands for your music library.

Hyundai Elantra GT 1.8L Engine, Picture Courtesy of Hyundai


Under the GT’s short hood beats the same 1.8L four-cylinder engine as the Elantra sedan. Unfortunately this mill doesn’t get Hyundai’s direct-injection sauce so power is rated at a middling 148 ponies and 131 lb-ft. In an interesting twist Hyundai allows you to select the 6-speed manual or the 6-speed automatic regardless of your trim level. This puts the Elantra a cog ahead of the Civic and a few other competitors. When you factor the additional weight of the GT model over the sedan it’s obvious performance is muted. When weight goes up, fuel economy goes down and so it is with the GT. The Elantra sedan scores a respectable 28/38/32 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) with the manual or automatic while the GT drops to 26/37/30 with the manual and 27/37/30 with the automatic. Our real world economy ended up a few steps lower at 28.2 MPG overall, notably lower than the Elantra sedan’s 32.1 MPG score last time I had one.

I spent most of the week inside the 6-speed automatic GT but I was able to hop in a manual equipped version for a few hours because I was intrigued by Hyundai’s decision to sell a row-your-own option on all trims. The automatic is obviously going to be the most popular option and will suit most drivers just fine. Hyundai has continually improved the feel of their slushbox and is now among the best in terms of shift feel and programming. While I like the feel of this 6-speed over Nissan’s CVT, 131 lb-ft would more easily motivate 2,800lbs if it was routed via a CVT. Just sayin… The 6-speed manual still lacks the refinement you’ll find in the VW Golf and the clutch feel is a notch below the Focus that’s a moot point if you want all the tech gadgets and a manual transmission in the same hatch. This is your only option.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Exterior, Picture COurtesy of Alex L. Dykes


The manual transmission is worth noting because the Elantra GT is much more of a driver’s car than any other Elantra, including the coupé. This is primarily because Hyundai significantly improved torsional rigidity when compared to its platform mates. Also tweaked were the springs and dampers for a tighter and more composed ride than its siblings. The changes are noticeable and make the sedan feel like a damp noodle in comparison. Hyundai seems to have found the right balance between sporty and soft when it comes to the ride with the GT feeling neither jarring nor marshmallowy soft. If road holding manners matter the most, the GT slots below certain Ford Focus models and VW’s Golf. On the rubber front we get 205/55R16 tires standard and an optional upgrade to 215/45R17s (as our tester was equipped) to improve grip. The larger rubber is part of the $950 “touch-and-go” package which nets you keyless-go, the larger wheels, aluminum pedals and a leather wrapped wheel and shift knob. Out on my favorite mountain highway the GT was a team player with more grip and composure than I expected. The steering? That’s another matter.

The Elantra GT gets Hyundai’s latest personalization option: adjustable steering assist. By pressing a button on the steering wheel you can select from three different steering effort settings on the fly. Yes, even mid-apex. Let’s get one thing clear: none of the modes will do anything to improve steering feel. In Comfort mode the GT is hopelessly over-boosted at speed but oddly doesn’t make give you feather-light steering in the parking lot. When in this mode it is all too easy to crank the wheel too far in a corner and end up constantly re-adjusting. Normal is a hair better. Sport is lifeless but firm. I spent my week in Sport.

2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I notice most reviews of the GT bemoan the “unusually loud” backup camera that pops out of the Hyundai logo on the trunk lid. Bucking the trend I don’t see a problem with this given the GT’s price tag of $18,545-$25,440. Similarly equipped the Ford Focus 5-door lands $1,800 more expensive and the VW Golf is $3,000lbs dearer. If however you factor in the Focus and Golf’s more powerful engines and better road manners, I’d call that difference much smaller. The smaller the delta becomes, the harder it is for me to look past the small things about the Elantra GT that bothered me during the week like the older infotainment software. If you can look beyond all of that, the 9.05 second 0-60 score is something you have to keep in mind because the Elantra GT is among the slowest hatches we have tested in a while.

Still, the GT is a cheaper option and that speaks to my budget-minded nature. But there are still two problems: the 2014 Kia Forte hatchback and the 2014 Mazda3 hatchback. The Forte’s newer underpinnings, more powerful engine, sexier sheetmetal and snazzier infotainment options are likely to be priced neck-and-neck with the Elantra GT. In addition to all that the Forte is likely to be the more engaging ride on the road based on our time with the Forte sedan. Then there’s that new Mazda3 with a two-engine lineup, available iLoop “almost hybrid” system, class leading 30/40MPG rating and a Mazda reputation for excellent road manners. Yes, those cars are still a few months off, but that just means the Elantra GT in the unfortunate position of being a value leader for a limited time only. What could Hyundai do to fix it? If they could jam their 270HP 2.0L turbo under the hood at a reasonable price…


Hyundai provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.06 Seconds

0-60: 9.05 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.84 Seconds @ 81.7 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 28.2 over 549 miles


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55 Comments on “Review: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT (Video)...”

  • avatar

    I thought the Veloster was based on the Accent? Or is it the Elantra?

    I don’t know how Hyundai’s platforms work.

    And, did you ever get the chance to drive an Elantra Touring? The style wasn’t too sexy, but it was pretty nice to drive, and you didn’t need a camera to see out of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Bull. I own an Elantra Touring. It’s got that trademark Hyundai lifeless steering, an idiotic transmission, an underpowered and torqueless engine, and suspension that somehow manages to be stiff without being sporty.

      I’m looking forward to the 2014 Forte5 and 2014 Mazda3 hatch as well, you can have my ET. I’ll pay you to take it in fact. ;) Those two models are going to absolutely destroy the Elantra, Hyundai better get the DI motor ready for the refresh.

      • 0 avatar

        “I’ll pay you to take it in fact.”

        I accept this offer.

      • 0 avatar

        Hah! Specially on the steering and suspension. Two very important systems on a car that Hyundai has yet to sort out well.

        Would a Kia really be that much different from the Hyundai? They’re developed by the same people so I’m guessing they wouldn’t be too different.

        • 0 avatar

          Some of it’s the material, some of it is how you tune it. Hyundai has always aspired to compete with Toyota. Kia learned how to build cars by building Fords and Mazdas. From that, they may have gotten some skill at tuning a suspension.

          Of course, the steering rack is still the same bottle of Novacaine.

        • 0 avatar

          As Alex pointed out, “Hyundai seems to have found the right balance between sporty and soft when it comes to the ride with the GT…” More balanced criticism/comment from one of the authors of this site would be appreciated.

        • 0 avatar

          Apart from the Genesis coupe, Hyundai’s steering is about as bad as Toyota’s, but that’s the market segment Hyundai is supposed to be targeting anyway.

          Kia generally has had better steering feel, but since they added the “flex-steer” feature on a couple of models, those also have that overboosted Hyundai steering.

          Now, for suspension tuning, Hyundai’s done a much better job on its newest models like the Azera, but Kia has been beating Hyundai at this game as well with the Cadenza having one of the smoothest rides for its segment (along with the new Impala) – better than the Avalon.

          The new Forte also has a better ride than the Elantra, as does the Optima over the Sonata.

          And suspension tuning also varies from region to region with Kia Australia reportedly getting the besr tuning.

      • 0 avatar

        If it’s a manual I’ll take it off your hands for nothing. Heck, I’d pay you. That’s a nice B&M unit.

        That’s after quality time driving my wife’s automatic ET. I say the steering isn’t bad and the suspension is actually pretty good – a European tune.. feels a bit life a Golf in that department. The automatic transmission and the engine are garbage though.

        I laugh at the hate on this car. It’s reliable and practical, and the GLS is far and away the best deal around for a family hauler. $17k gets you a big cargo area, lots of leg room, and satellite radio.

        • 0 avatar

          Actually, I do kind of need some money for it, so I can put money down on a 2014 Mazda3. ;)

          I have the first-year one from 2009, and yes, the automatic and the engine are garbage. But it has in fact been reliable garbage, I have to admit. I have no use for the rear legroom though…while it was a nice idea when i bought it, fact is, no human being has ever sat back there since I did for a test sit before buying it.

          • 0 avatar

            We have two kids, and we fairly frequently drive three adults and two kids around. So the space is nice.

            We’re having trouble with the front tires toe-ing out and some jerking from the A/T, and we’ve had all sorts of trim replaced under warranty. So it certainly isn’t a Honda-style experience.

            You might have some luck selling your car – we’ve been getting letters from local Hyundai dealers looking for used Tourings.

      • 0 avatar

        If you didn’t test drive the car then you deserve what you got…..

  • avatar

    You may not have liked the Elantra Touring (wagon), but I did. It was the only wagon left in the segment, besides the Jetta.

    But, I guess not enough people liked the wagon to keep it going. Oh well.

  • avatar

    VW will sell you a hatch with all the toys and a stickshift, in either GTI or TDI form. Sadly, no more stick in a 4dr basic Golf though. Personally, I can’t see the point of built in navigation when my $150 TomTom is better than any factory nav system I have ever used except the FIAT 500s. Which is a TomTom stuck into a hole in the dash!

    The Elantra just looks so ASIAN inside and out. Like a Pokémon character. All weird lines and angles that don’t mesh.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Elantra just looks so ASIAN inside and out. Like a Pokémon character. All weird lines and angles that don’t mesh.”

      A lot of YOUNG people seem to be attracted to those looks. In 2011 my grand daughter immediately sought out the Elantra over the Civic, Corolla, Mazda3, etc, because of its looks.

      I know it is a grapefruit to oranges comparison but they are both members of the citrus family, like all Elantra versions and incarnations are part of the Elantra family.

      But the 2011 Elantra has held up very well for her and endures a 150-mile roundtrip commute four days a week to college and back, plus local driving.

      The original Kumho tires were cheapos and wore our quickly but the Pirellis I put on her Elantra ride better and are lasting longer.

      Haven’t had any warranty incidents, so far with more than 50K on the clock. It gets used daily!

      I’d say that makes Elantra a damn good deal. Now it gets down to likes and dislikes.

  • avatar

    9.0 seconds 0-60 seems awfully slow nowadays for anything labelled gt. The horsepower to weight figures seem like it would be faster?

    • 0 avatar

      Because gearing.

      • 0 avatar

        Because pathetically small non-DI engine with no low-end torque. It was originally meant to get them into the 40 MPG club. The 2.0L DI version gets essentially the same MPGs and gets over 170 HP. In the Kia Forte. Darn, there’s that Kia again. ;)

    • 0 avatar

      The Elantra GT is a rebadged Euro i30 hatch so the anemic powerplant goes with the territory.

      The new Kia Koup and probably the Forte hatch (too bad we don’t get the Kia cee’d – much better looking than the new Forte) will get the 1.6 turbo, so it’s possible that the Elantra GT will get it down the road as well.

      Also too bad that Hyundai took out the IRS for the US market.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    Allow me to defend the much maligned Elantra Touring for moment. The Touring was unique among its competitors for interior volume. It was 6 inches longer than the GT, 1 inch taller and the squared off shape made it more of wagon than a compact hatchback. Seats-down cargo space in the GT is down by over 14 sq ft. The Touring was the perfect option for a small family in the city that didn’t want to drive a CUV and couldn’t afford anything German. You got CUV-like space in a car that costed and drove the same as a compact. And you could see out of it, an unfortunately rare feature these days. The GT on the other hand is just another hatchback. And if I’m going to buy just another hatchback I’d rather have the Mazda3 or the Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I always had trouble with the A pillars on mine, they’re too thick and in the worst possible place when you’re trying to go through a curve.

  • avatar

    9 seconds to 60, no LED tail lamps like its home market model (i30) for $25,000? Plenty of good reasons to buy this car, no?

  • avatar

    It’s frustrating to see reviewers claim the Civic interior has gone “upmarket” for 2013. I was in one the other day, sure the materials feel a bit nicer, but there are so many seams in the dash and it looks far too busy. Even worse, when my knee pressed against the door panel, the cheap plastics flexed with ease. It was shocking to me.

    I own at 2013 Subaru Crosstrek (same interior as Impreza) and the inside feels far more solidly constructed. Sure there are some cheap plastics around the dash, but I would say without a doubt it is a better interior than the Civic. Despite this, no one really gives Subaru credit for just how far it has come with the Impreza interior (especially considering how abysmal the last generation was).

    • 0 avatar

      The Civic didn’t just gain flimsy door panels for 2013. I have a 2008 and when the weather is warm, I can use my legs and flex both the door panel and center console to completely different shapes.

      I’ve been using this almost like a stress ball in traffic, but it’s probably going to break soon.

  • avatar

    Can’t get a manual with the 2.0L engines except on the Kia Soul. That’s screwed up.

  • avatar

    How far is H/K off of Acura? They have the content without substance so figure Acura could be on similar playing field.

    Are they even close or am I way off?

  • avatar

    “The 6-speed manual still lacks the refinement you’ll find in the VW Golf and the clutch feel is a notch below the Focus that’s a moot point if you want all the tech gadgets and a manual transmission in the same hatch. This is your only option.”

    you can get a manual in any variant of the focus hatch as well including the titanium…they announced the addition to the MY13 models

  • avatar

    This could have been Hyundai’s ‘second coming of the classic plebeian VW Golf”… value and practicality… but still something of an institution trend, Hyundai doesn’t have the institutional knowledge that VW or Honda have in dialing in driving dynamics. It’ll be on my list of cars to cross shop when I look at a new car, but it doesn’t exactly get the blood going.

    However, just saw a new Kia Forte5 on the road the other day, in bright red. That’s a sharp looking hatch, actually.

    • 0 avatar

      “Hyundai doesn’t have the institutional knowledge that VW or Honda have in dialing in driving dynamics”

      Hyundai has been building cars for 40+ years – they should have plenty of institutional knowledge to figure out how to build a good handling car. They simply choose to build the car that will get them the most sales. Evidently other factors are more important than driving dynamics.

  • avatar

    NA Hy are nibbling away @ the likes of Nissan & Toyota and quite possibly Honda. GT does call imitation Focus hatch – is it as good?

    No Golf, them Golfs still sell crazy bad in Europa.

  • avatar

    Not to nitpick, but I’m betting the audio connector is a 3.5mm jack and not the 1/4″ discussed in the video.

    Other than that, great review!

  • avatar

    It’s a very cute little car that can be had with every amenity. My coworker bought one after her Accent was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. She loves it. I love it.

  • avatar

    Alex, I’m generally a big fan of your reviews for their well researched perspective. OTOH, I think this review would have been better served by putting the Elantra GT in perspective as the Americanized i30, which along with Hyundai’s other “i” badged vehicles (i20 and i40) were first and foremost meant to compete in the EU market. This explains it’s better (still Korean) driving dynamics, availability of manual and other features that Europeans generally favor.

    Anyway, there is little that’s “new” about the Elantra GT versus the regular Elantra as it was only about a little over a year behind the current generation Elantra in production. More than anything, it follows the styling cues of the i40 wagon.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Being more of a European product, the Elantra GT is quite compromised for the American lifestyle, but Hyundai can afford to have cars that don’t sell very well at this point.

  • avatar

    I may be in the minority, but I don’t lament the engine lacking Hyundai’s Direct Injection “sauce.” While I agree it’s a promising advancement, until they figure out a way to keep the intake valves clean, I’m staying away.

    On my 335i it was just accepted that you’d have to pull the intake and manually clean the valves. This strikes me as unreasonable no matter what the mileage and power gains.

    • 0 avatar

      I also have an N54 equipped 335 with the same problem. However, this is only a first generation DI issue. Subsequent designs(including the N55) also have a port injections systems designed to keep the intake valves clean.

  • avatar

    Ha ha, my new Honda Civic can walk all over this Hyundai I30.
    150 bhp, 258 lb-ft, 50 mpg overall, 0-60 8,5 sec, 135 mph.

    • 0 avatar

      That would be a good comparison if that car were even available in the United States. Plus, I’m guessing there’s a price premium on the diesel, right?

    • 0 avatar

      Remember when the segment benchmarks were the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla? Tells you how much the market has shifted, that the segment benchmarks are now the Ford Focus, Mazda3, and Hyundai Elantra.

      P.S. Ha ha, neener neener. :)

  • avatar

    Couple things: The GT is the only Elantra that actually has Hyundai’s Bluelink system at all, its standard on all trims. Allegedly the 2.0 GDI will be coming to the GT for 2014. I own a GT stick with the style pkg, and the only thing missing is the power. I regularly get 32mpg overall – 2mpg ahead of the EPA rating. Skip the tech pkg, its 2013 and everyone has navi on their phone – and you can use the bluetooth streaming to hear the navi voice anyway – or use Bluelink, and if you can’t back your car up without a camera, stop driving. My car lists for about $22k, and for that you are getting a 6 speed manual, heated leather, panoramic sunroof, power drivers seat, bluetooth, Bluelink, all the safety tech and great mileage. Can’t beat it. Hyundai is even offering up to $2000 off or 0% for 60m – yes I sell Hyundais lol.

  • avatar

    If you ask me, the biggest question behind the GT is, “why this and not a Veloster” (or vice-versa)?

  • avatar

    It’s not a “Honda”.


  • avatar

    I find it difficult to read this article when it mentions at end that the veloster is based on the elantra! The veloster is based on the accent.

  • avatar

    Seriously, what’s with the hate-on for the ‘Touring?

    It was a wagon and it came with a manual.

  • avatar

    The 2013 Elnatra GT has to be the worst car I have ever driven in . The suspension feels like rubber and sadly I did not realize how much of a piece of garbage it is until 6000 klms . Then it’s true stripes came out in volumes . What a fuklin shit box . Did Hyundai even drive this thing before they sold it too us ??? Why does the whole car feel like the frame is made of rubber when you drive over bumps ??? Why do you have to correct the steering constantly when driving over a simple little bump in the road ??? WHy did I get sucked into buying this POS . I miss my 2011 Touring in which I never felt unsafe in but this 2013 POS I feel unsafe . How can you all just sit in that car an never question what to hell is the back of the car doing ??? . your review sir is complete bull saying this is a good car when in truth it is one of the worst and unsafe vehicles on the road . Mine sit’s in my driveway as I hate driving it . It’s so uncomfortable and just feels like shit when you drive it down the road …

  • avatar

    Oh and I so miss my 2011 Elantra Touring . It ran perfectly and handled perfectly unlike the 2013 POS . Also the gas milage is worse than my 2011 and it has 6 speed automatic . Not one friggin Hyundai model can say it gets good gas mileage . This is the last Hyundai product I will ever buy .

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