LA 2015: Hyundai Goes Further With 2017 Elantra

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

Shortly after the debut of its Avante brother in South Korea, the Elantra was revealed for the first time in North America last week at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Going into its sixth generation, the Elantra looks offer even more in its class with the addition of new safety kit and technology that makes even class-above vehicles blush.

But, even though the new Elantra is much improved over the outgoing model in almost every conceivable way, it’s hard not to think it looks a bit, well, familiar.

Under the hood of the new, sixth-generation Elantra are two new engines.

The first engine, which will power the majority of Elantras, is a new 2-liter Atkinson-style four cylinder that produces 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 pounds feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The new mill isn’t as powerful as the outgoing 2-liter — which was good for 173 horsepower and 154 pounds-feet of torque — though the new powerplant isn’t a replacement for the older engine. Instead, the new Atkinson-style mill is a replacement for the 1.8-liter base engine available in the current Elantra that produces two fewer horsepower and two fewer torques.

The Atkinson mill will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, though the vast majority of compact commuters will likely opt for the new six-speed automatic that Hyundai expects to deliver 38 mpg on the highway slog.

The other engine announced in Los Angeles is a 1.4-liter Kappa GDI turbocharged mill. Don’t expect much in the way of performance from this engine, either, as the small, single-scroll turbo mill is slated for the Elantra Eco and only produces 128 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. However, as is the case with most turbo engines in the lower end of the segment spectrum, it does crank 156 pounds-feet of torque between 1,400 and 3,700 rpm.

If you’re looking to row your own while hypermiling the Elantra Eco, you’re out of luck — kinda. The turbo mill will be packaged exclusively with Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. With this combo, Hyundai said they expect a 35 mpg combined fuel economy rating — but that’s not final.

What of the old, hi-po, 2-liter Elantra? Hyundai said they would release details on a replacement to the Elantra Sport later next year. Until then, you’ll have to rely on the Elantra’s Drive Mode Selector, which changes engine responsiveness and the amount of assist provided by its electric power steering to liven up the journey.

As with any new generation of any vehicle, Hyundai says NVH and ride comfort are improved for the sixth-generation Elantra, and the automaker expects it to claim Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (until those organizations change the rules, as they do). To keep you away from barriers, vehicles and pedestrians, Hyundai is loading up the Elantra with available automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), lane keep assist, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist and a rearview camera with dynamic guide lines, all firsts for the model.

The Elantra’s interior receives a complete rework, bringing its design in line with other models higher up Hyundai’s model range.

In addition to the base audio system, Hyundai’s compact will be available with two advanced infotainment systems with 7- and 8-inch touchscreens. The latter will come with the automaker’s latest version of Blue Link and do everything shy of checking whether Spot has enough water to drink at home as you make your way back from seven-and-a-half hours in a cubicle. Both systems will be equipped with Android Auto and some Elantras will get a second USB port. For audiophiles trying to cram as much music on a portable digital music player as possible, the optional eight-speaker Infinity audio system features Clari-Fi from Harman that tries to fill in the blanks on compressed digital audio by interpolating sound fragments.

Sitting in the middle of the instrument panel will be a 4.2-inch TFT display on some models. A driver’s memory seat and mirrors will also be available in higher trims. An available dual-zone automatic temperature control system and heated front and rear seats will keep things comfortable in a spacious cabin that grows an ever-so-slight 0.2 cubic feet to 95.6 cubes. That space means the Elantra is again classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA, though total volume shrinks thanks to a trunk that’s 0.4 cubic feet smaller at 14.4 cubic feet versus the outgoing car.

As alluded to above, even though the new Elantra is a sharp looking compact, there’s something familiar about it. Some of the B&B pinpointed exactly why when we posted about the Elantra’s launch in South Korea.

But before we get to that …

There’s a reason why Apple can sell its wares for a significant premium over other phone makers. Even though millions of people have an iPhone, there’s something very individual and unique about it. There’s no phone that’s the same as an iPhone. Apple’s phone looks and behaves different than the rest of the phones you can buy on the market. And, most importantly, the phones that do look exactly like iPhones tend to be cheap imitations from Chinese manufacturers looking to capitalize on the halo of Apple’s brand and design.

Hyundai realized this not too long ago and started cracking out in-your-face designs, such as the previous-generation Sonata. Whether you loved or loathed it, the those Hyundais all looked unique. They were unmistakable as Hyundais — and usually not in a bad way.

Now we have the newest Elantra, revealed this past week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which goes further to being a compact version of the Ford Fusion than the Blue Oval’s own Focus.

With a slight nose job, the Elantra wouldn’t look out of place on a dealer’s lot next to a Fusion.

Ford should feel flattered, I suppose. But, it’s incredibly unfortunate for Hyundai.

Back to the Elantra itself, overall height and wheelbase stay the same, while length and width grow 0.8 inches and 1 inch respectively. Available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights are available for the first time on Elantra, while High Beam Assist automatically dims high beams when approaching traffic is detected. Unique vertical LED daytime running lights similar to those found on the Sonata trickle down to the Elantra, and functional front wheel air curtains, underbody covers, rear decklid and aerodynamic rear bumper bottom spoiler improve aerodynamics and help Elantra achieve a 0.27 Cd. Available 17-inch alloy wheels, all-new LED door handle approach lights, side mirror LED turn signal indicators, LED taillights and Smart Trunk round out the upper trim kit.

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra will be assembled in Montgomery, Alabama and Ulsan, South Korea. The first units — available in eight colors, five of which are new to Elantra — will arrive at dealer lots in January 2016.

Mark Stevenson
Mark Stevenson

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3 of 29 comments
  • Strafer Strafer on Nov 23, 2015

    new Ford, Hyundai and Subaru look interchangeable to me. Hard to tell without looking at the badge.

    • RideHeight RideHeight on Nov 24, 2015

      When I see an unidentifiable new squashmobile I parse its possible sources by first asking: "Would it win the Gaudy Body Award?" If yes, Hyundai every time that I've caught a view of the badging. Only Mazda threatens my procedure.

  • PRNDLOL PRNDLOL on Nov 24, 2015

    I see Fusion meets Avalon in the front, and Audi A3 meets...well Hyundai in the back.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
  • Big Al from Oz Musk and Trump are of the same ilk, except Musk's IQ is a damn site higher than Trumps. Musk like Trump is only into himself. Musk doesn't care about Trump only Musk. Musk sees more dollars if Trump wins.Hey, I'm Big Al again!3
  • Rover Sig We have a car with two fake exhausts in the bumper, but a large shiny muffler visible hanging down on one side, not aligned with the fake exhaust exits. Horrendous. I had to paint the shiny muffler with high-temp black paint to make it less visible. Exhaust pipes were meant to be round and hang below the bumper, and they can be made quiet or loud as the engineers like. But fake exhausts rank down there with fake intake vents on the side of that old Buick.
  • EBFlex Of course it does. What a silly question
  • Buickman Elon is a phony.