By on April 12, 2016

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited

2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four cylinder (147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm, 132 lbs-ft @ 4,500 rpm)

Six-speed automatic

28 city/37 highway/32 combined (EPA rating, MPG)

33.5 (Observed, MPG)

Base price: $17,985 (SE, U.S.) / $17,694 (L Manual, Canada)

As tested (Limited + Ultimate Package): $27,585 (U.S.) / $30,594 (Canada)

All U.S. prices include a $835 freight fee. All Canadian prices include $1,795 freight and PDI fees and A/C tax when equipped.

Sometimes, circumstance hands you a perfect metaphor.

While driving Hyundai’s redesigned and all-around updated 2017 Elantra, a brand-spankin’-new Honda Civic bolted out from a side street, led me for a short while, then put the hammer down before it took off into the distance.

Up ’till that moment, the electric blue Elantra tester (in option-heavy Limited form) had proven itself a comfortable, roomy, good-handling compact by soaking up the worst potholes, frost heaves and patches that early spring could throw at it. But here, all of a sudden, was its main competitor — the award-winning Civic, the car to beat in the compact class — and I could almost feel the worry emerge from the Korean plastic and steel that encased me.

No car exists in a vacuum (thank you, capitalism!), so the Elantra’s mandate can’t simply be to improve on its own past — it must present a compelling argument against the Civic. Is it up to the task?

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited side, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

Longer, wider, angrier

The 2017 Elantra keeps a profile that’s similar to its predecessor, but adds that healthy dose of visual aggression its previous generation lacked.

The 2017 model now presents a real face to the world, ditching its upper and lower air slots for an honest-to goodness horizontal slat grille. Gaping, angry fascias are in, and the Elantra doesn’t disappoint.

Flanked by HID projection headlamps and vertical stacks of LED fog/running lights, the overhauled face is a vast improvement that boosts its impression of width.

2017 Hyunday Elantra Limited front view, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

For good or bad, the previous generation Elantra took aerodynamic styling to new compact-car heights. To some, it looked like a soft-serve cone that managed to hit 60 miles per hour during a heat wave. Well, the new Elantra isn’t so phobic of straight lines or non-spherical shapes.

Bodyside character lines have become more horizontal and pronounced, making the beltline seem higher, and we all know that higher beltlines = scary powerful Mafioso dangermobiles. The beltline still sweeps upward to meet the C-pillar, but it now has the desired athletic effect.

The taillights retain a similar shape, though Hyundai drops the elongated teardrop lenses in favor of six trapezoidal LED clusters. These points of light are sharp, and look great at night. Above them, the entire trunk lid has shaped itself into a subtle spoiler that overhangs the taillights, keeping the sedan profile intact now that the roofline terminates further aft.

Turn signals integrated into the side view mirrors and chrome door handles on the Limited (illuminated up front) add some upscale flair, while the 17-inch aluminum wheels look decently sporty.

The overall package still looks slippery, but now cleaner and more refined. Hyundai says that with a 0.27 coefficient of drag, the Elantra now slips through the wind better than a Leaf.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited interior, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

Cabin of contrasts

For 2017, the Elantra’s passenger cabin gets a slight boost in size, though its interior volume was already rated midsized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s classification system.

In front, legroom is generous even for my gangly 6’4” frame, while space behind the front seats grows by 2 inches to provide more room for your friend’s knees and your lower back. Front headroom suffers in our tester due to the optional power sunroof, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a problem. My scalp rubs the headliner while sitting in the back, but it does that in an Impala, too. Sacrifices have to be made for a sexy roofline, but the tradeoff is usually only felt by tall people like myself.

The interior layout is uncluttered and inoffensive with some upscale touches — but there are caveats.

First, the good stuff: The front seats are broad and supportive and come with standard heating up front in Limited models (optional in the back). The steering wheel is leather wrapped, heated, and festooned with easy to thumb audio, trip menu and Bluetooth controls.

Keyless entry and a push-button ignition adds convenience, while the optional blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and a backup camera are must-haves for terrified commuters.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited center stack, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

The dual-zone climate control is easy to use and the gauge cluster easy to read. The infotainment and navigation systems, mounted in an attractive center stack, are responsive and easy to navigate, and the 8-inch screen didn’t leave me squinting. Voice controls on the Android Auto-equipped system functioned flawlessly both times I tested it, and yes, you can call Siri.

If your entourage is gadget-heavy, or you’re a part-time P.I., there’s plenty of connectivity hookups up front to satisfy your electronic needs.

Where the interior falls short is in the doors, the upper parts of which are flat, plasticky, and look like they immigrated from the 1990s. Despite their comfort, the leather seats look and feel rubbery. The width of the center stack leaves some media controls hidden from view by the steering wheel and wiper stalk, and those on the right side of the wide center stack must be groped for.

Hard plastic covers the front seat backs, which I found low-end, though a female friend pointed out easy-to-clean surfaces are appreciated by those with children.

The eight-speaker Infinity audio system sometimes sounds tinny, especially at low decibels, while the surround sound — even when center-weighted — always seems to emanate from the dash.

True, these gripes don’t come close to describing a manual labor camp, but they’re the type of thing you’d pay attention to the more you paid for the vehicle, especially on a loaded Limited model ($27,585 USD MSRP) like this one; probably not so much on a carefully optioned entry-level SE ($17,985 USD MSRP to start).

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited rear seat, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

Public works hero

An El Niño winter full of freeze-thaw cycles laid a perfect proving ground for the Elantra’s beefed up architecture and redesigned suspension. The patchwork of craters and temporary mountains blanketing nearly every road surface rivals a World War One battlefield — or at least Detroit.

Hyundai says the Elantra now uses 53 percent high-strength steel in its body, up from 21 percent last year, and piles on 40 times more structural adhesive. This means a 29.5 percent increase in torsional rigidity without excess weight.

Cushioning the newly rigid body is a rejigged rear suspension that sees shock absorbers aligned more vertical and coil springs repositioned atop its torsion beam axle. An increase in rear bushing diameter has long-term endurance in mind.

With these changes, plus a McPherson strut setup up front, the Elantra does an admirable job insulating the driver from the road surface, and turn-in is always flat and drama-free. No hop, shimmy, bounce or undue vibration were noticed, nor were there any squeaks or rattles in the body.

Nicely weighted steering adds to the driving comfort and the vehicle’s sense of stability, and is welcome when attempting to have some fun.

2017 Hyundai Elantra rear view, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

Efficiency over muscle

For 2017, the Elantra receives the “Nu” 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, making 147 horsepower and 132 pounds-feet of torque. There are many C-segment vehicles that make more power, but Hyundai is aiming for efficiency with this mill. A six-speed automatic is the only choice on the Limited (a six-speed manual comes standard on the base SE), but it has been recalibrated for better fuel efficiency and responsiveness.

Engine noise is muted at speed, buzziness is kept to a minimum during acceleration, and its transmission doesn’t need to be begged to downshift while in top gear. Wind noise intrudes into the cabin, however.

The drivetrain makes for pleasant day-to-day driving, but the transmission’s gear-holding “sport mode,” manual shift gate, and solid steering and suspension don’t fully erase the desire for more low-end grunt. For most trim levels, the drivetrain is just fine, but — at the top of the price range — a driver dreams of the performance and exclusivity a higher-output engine could bring (note: the Civic Touring’s 1.5-liter turbo four makes 174 hp and 162 lbs-ft).

Hyundai rates the Elantra Limited’s fuel consumption at 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway. After several days of city driving in all three drive modes (Eco, Normal, and Sport), the tester returned 28 mpg. A 60 mile, two-lane highway jaunt (averaging 55 mph) returned an impressive 49 mpg under ideal conditions, and two low-traffic freeway trips returned 40 and 43 mpg, respectively.

The Elantra was shod with 225/45 R17 Michelin X-Ice winter tires during the test period.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

The Verdict

Meaningful upgrades in equipment and appearance show that Hyundai takes its compact segment competitiveness seriously. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited is an easy car to live with, especially if comfort and technology are number one and two on your list of must-haves.

Most buyers, of course, will opt for an SE and feel good about satisfying the urge that drew them to the Hyundai showroom.

But if sport ranks high on your list, especially if you’ve got the cash to venture well above base trims, the Elantra’s modest power will make it easy for one to be wooed into a Civic Touring or Mazda3 GT, both of which offer more horses and a top-level manual tranny (later this year, in the case of the Civic).

Disclosure: Hyundai Canada provided the vehicle and insurance for this review.

[Images: © 2016 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

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93 Comments on “2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited Review – Striving for Better...”


  • avatar
    EX35

    lol at paying $27K for this 147HP econocar.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      The B&B have this strange aversion to well optioned vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        I will say that it seems strange to pay $27k for an Elantra optioned to a fairly similar level to that of a $24k Sonata.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I can hand crank my windows just fine, thank you, without your fancy pants motors and such.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Twenty-seven THOUSAND dollars, and it still says Elantra on the back. Ehhhh.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        No they don’t. They want a Mercedes Benz S class interior wrapped in an Audi A8 body that is also a wagon and can seat 5 in luxurious comfort – so it must be like the TARDIS on outer versus inner dimensions. It must be at least 500 HP and 500 lb feet of torque, but get a combined average of 50 MPG without the use of batteries or electric motors. It must have a range of 700 miles on a tank of gas, and cannot weigh more than 2,500 pounds. It must not have anything bigger than 15″ rims, because that is ridiculous, but again in defying the confines of dimensions, brake rotors must be at least 14 inches attached to 6 piston calipers. 0-60 should be in 3.5 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11, because anything slower than that is a death trap when it comes to highway merging. It must be a 6-speed manual, with no nanny features – no ABS, traction control, stability control, air bags, etc. It must be brown, and run on diesel, but make no engine noise at all and the exhaust must smell like fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Manufacturer recommended service interval is every 50K miles and costs $99.95 to tune up, replace all fluids and filters, and service the brakes. It must be sold CPO used when new, with 4,000 miles on it, lovingly and gently put on there by a 53 year old house wife who drove it only solo on a test track, with the car completely wrapped in 1-1/2 inch foam, sans a tank slit for her to look forward out of. Speed is varied from 25 MPH to 60 MPH. Price must be $12,999, with a $3,000 rebate, zero down lease offer with payments at $50 a month for 36 months, and 15K miles allowed a year.

        That’s what the B&B want.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      It’s a $17k econocar, and if that’s what you want, you can have it. Believe it or not, there are people in the world who would rather have heated seats, navigation, adaptive cruise, etc. in a small car than buy a base model big car.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        More and more buyers these days want all the “goodies” (esp. the safety tech) than a base larger car or even a luxury model (hence, many buyers opting for loaded, mainstream crossovers rather than luxury sedans or crossovers).

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      Instead of this at 27k, I’d look at a Chrysler 200 that lists at 27k but is being sold at 20-21,000.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, it’s $27,000 for a 147-hp econocar that’s has about the same option content as a 10-year-old Benz, but point taken.

      You can certainly buy a cheaper Elantra.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      You should Google the term “inflation”. $27K for a fully loaded econo car in 2016 is about right. A 20 yr old Elantra GLS cost about the same in today’s dollars and was a complete turd.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Let’s remember this is a Canadian model and $27K CDN is about $21,150 USD according to the exchange rate today. I realize the models and pricing don’t interchange across the border, but that price makes a lot more sense to me.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m beginning not to like the new Civic’s design, so that’s out.

    However, if I found myself in the market for a compact sedan, the new Cruze (presumably; I haven’t driven it) and Mazda3 would be stiff competitors against this car, for different reasons. The styling works well, and it seems like this newest crop of Kia / Hyundai products will hold up better than the 2011 – 2014 era from a fit-and-finish standpoint. Plus, if nothing else, the new Elantra stands with the Sentra and said Civic in providing near mid-sized room at a compact car price. And who ever paid $27K for an Elantra, anyway? Within a year, you’ll be able to get a loaded one for under $25K, OTD.

    Only thing is, most of these *will* be base-model units—as is typically the case with compact sedans. I’d be more interested in seeing the car’s merits at that level than when it’s loaded up to 2009-luxury-car levels.

    • 0 avatar
      OuchIAteMyself

      As a 2015 Sonata Limited 2.0t owner who purchased Mar 2015 for 27k (35K MSRP), I couldn’t agree more.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        We have a 2012 Sonata Limited with the 2.4T. I am not impressed with how the interior has held up over what is now about 80K miles compared to a Honda or Toyota or Ford of similar vintage…but the new Sonata seems a lot better. Plus, ours has a crashy suspension compared to the new one.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      This thing is not convincing me over the competition, for a long list of reasons.

      In isolation, Hyundai still hasn’t quite figured vehicle dynamics out. If this drives like the previous gen Elantra and Sonata rentals I drove, anyone who even remotely enjoys driving can count this out. The steering is completely inert, and the suspension is comfortable, but in no way playful. Compared to the previous gen, I personally prefer the old style- I think it was the best looking compact car in its generation, at least outside. The interior needed work. They sapped all the character out of it.

      Compared to the competition…. I would put it in the same league as the Corolla/Cruze/Sentra etc. Not bad cars but nothing anyone would get excited about. Good value on paper. Competitive but not great. Focus is way more dynamic though I think a little cramped? Mazda 3 is way more premium, though I think the praise for its dynamics are overblown. That leaves the Golf and Civic… either of which would be my picks, properly equipped. Golf feels like an Audi and is probably just as well equipped if not better for the $$$ (especially now with Dieselgate). That TSI engine is a beast in the segment too. And I’m excited about the Civic with the 1.5T and stickshift. I am learning to stomach the looks. I know underneath there is a playful Honda chassis and 9th gen Si level performance, along with a premium interior and all the current bells and whistles. If my future fortunes don’t enable the used M235i or E90 335i I really want I will definitely give the Golf and Civic 1.5T serious looks.

      Truthfully this thing will probably sell in lower trims primarily through “flexible” credit offerings. It’s not a bad car but there’s nothing here to lure someone out of a Civic or even a Corolla.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “If this drives like the previous gen Elantra and Sonata rentals I drove, anyone who even remotely enjoys driving can count this out. The steering is completely inert, and the suspension is comfortable, but in no way playful.”

        I loathed the previous-gen Sonata and drive a current-gen Sonata. It’s no Miata but it can be induced to have fun. I had mine in a nice four-wheel drift on an on-ramp last month, without much urging to get there. I was surprised at how well it behaved. The steering feel wasn’t like I was holding the tie rod ends in either hand but it certainly isn’t dead.

        It seems like there’s a big jump in H’s quality to the current-gen stuff, whether it’s the Genesis or the Sonata (or presumably the Elantra).

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          I have a new Tucson—-it’s leaps and bounds ahead of the old one (even with the 19″s) and far better than the CRV and Rav-4 as far as ride quality.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The new Tucson has beaten the venerable Mazda CX-5 in overseas comparison tests.

            The CX-5 is still a better handler (primarily due to the better steering feel), but the Tucson outscored it in ride and being more overall refined ride.

            Based on the latest reviews of the Elantra – seems like it has many of the same traits of the Tucson (overall, the Sportage is better than the Tucson).

            The front/rear ends and the dash is better in the new Elantra than the previous model.

            The greenhouse on the old Elantra was better, but cramped rear headroom.

            Overall, seems to be a good bit improved (ride and handling), but wish that Hyundai did a better job when it came to padding on the door and center console.

            Like in most cases, the next Forte will likely be better than the Elantra (esp. if it looks like the Novo concept).

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Well, I actually *have* the Golf, in wagon form. So that would be my pick, too. But I was talking more about compact sedans, which is a relevant argument since a lot of people—including my best friend—are predisposed to think that hatchback = poverty.

        The Civic drives excellently. I just really, *really* don’t like the styling.

        The Dart, in certain trims, can be a competent, well-executed little sedan, but resale values take such a dip that I wouldn’t buy one new. And longevity is still up in the air.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’m with you on the Civic, Kyree.

          And I want to love the Golf. I really, really want to. But with my past VW ownership experiences (and subsequent experiences selling them), plus VW’s corporate malfeasance, I just can’t pull the trigger.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The Golf is really, really, really good. I have christened it the S-Class of the compact segment. That TSI engine and its relatively low curb weight really make it effortless to drive. I’m pretty interested in the GTI for a lot of the same reasons, but am leary of actually buying one for the same reasons as you. And I’ve heard it’s a bit aloof, which I can believe after driving the Golf. Awesome cars saddled to an awful company.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It’s probably the refinement levels on the Golf, which are crazy high for this class.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Sporty, flexible credit is Honda and Nissan bread and in Florida. My local Holler Hyundai dealer sold almost 50% in cash deals.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Not a bad review Considering this car was tested on snow tires. Nice luxury features on this type of vehicle.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I’ve read a number of reports where real world comparative fuel mileage on this one and the Civic turbo are the same, so if you can stand the Civic styling extremes and think you can live with that long term, there is no comparison. Best to compare this Elantra with the new Cruze which is substantially improved.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The true retail price makes it less jaw-droppingly expensive. But still, at $22k I don’t think this car would keep me from shopping more.

    It’s a very attractive looking car. Aside from the jowls.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I had the last gen Elantra as a rental for a couple of days. Was a base SE rental model. I was surprised how bad it was. Not that it was horrible but the Focus way outclassed it in every category except space. Weird, steering was numb but had surprising grip at the expense of a very unrefined ride. Looked nice, wife like the way it looked. I could see people liking it on a test drive, buying it, then hating it after a couple months.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think that’s going to be the Elantra’s biggest hurdle…perceptions of the previous model.

      The old one was swoopy and handsome and spacious, but the interior must have been built by Fisher-Price and it rode like a buckboard. Anyone who had one of those—especially a base GLS or SE model—as a rental and didn’t already drive a nicer Hyundai model would have come away with mediocre to negative feelings about the Hyundai brand.

      But it sounds like this new one is markedly improved. Hyundai got the looks and the features right with its last crop of products and built up quite a customer base in doing so; now it seems like they’re working on driving feel and overall materials longevity.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I resemble this remark. We have a loaded Santa Fe which my wife and I both love. Right now she’s in a new Sonata since she got rear-ended by a texting teenager last week. Notably, my mom was just in an Elantra while her car was getting fixed for something as well. Both were either base model or very close to it.

        Hyundai does very well at the high end of their trims, but these base and near-base models just felt cheap all around. Touch points are universally terrible, the door card arm rests are hard, and the center stack is very cheap looking in person. Not to mention rear visibility is terrible and a backup camera is not standard.

        The problem is their competition manages to make their base to mid trims feel not cheap. Unless they can fix this, competing on price is the only thing they have going for them. A Genesis is still on my next vehicle short list, but I don’t think I’d ever consider a low to mid-trim of any of their regular cars.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I should have mentioned that is was a rental while my wife’s 13 Sonata was in the shop. Her’s is a base GLS. I find the fit and finish interior quality to be high on that, especially for a base model. The suspension is much better than the Elantra’s but still sub par for the class. Wife fell in love with the way it looked and took about a year to realize the driving experience was less then desired. Great family trip car though but 60k miles on it and not aging well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll actually go on record as saying the Focus isn’t necessarily the class leader, but it’s the value in the class.

      Get one with a manual, and you avoid all the DCT issues. It drives sweetly. And it’s a deal.

      Highly underrated car.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        I had 2 focus rent a cars that I loved. If the back seat was just a little bigger I’d get one but twin 6 year old boys (getting bigger) tight squeeze in back. Ride and handling remind me of an E46, very composed on rough roads, though the steering feeling isn’t there.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I like the Focus hatch, especially in red, with those multispoke wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I recently rented a 3, and afterwards I wished I had rented a Focus. Seems the Focus is the dynamic champ everyone claims the Mazda to be, and I imagine the DCT is pretty sharp once the car is rolling. Next time I will go for a Focus.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    It’s interesting to note where Hyundai took the knife to this car in it’s 2017 redesign. The SE model makes due with rear drum brakes, no cruise control, no rear seat back map pockets, no rear seat center fold down armrest, no lighted visor mirror lights and no glove box light and no under hood insulator to name some. If you want those features you now must pony up to the costlier Limited trim level which begins at $23185 with no options. You can of course upgrade that SE base model with the $800 popular equipment package but automatic transmission is your only choice as this package isn’t offered with the stick. It gives back one rear seat back map pocket, cruise control with steering wheel audio, bluetooth hands free phone operation, auto headlights, alloy wheels, 7″ touch screen and an under hood insulator pad. Even with this package the sticker is only 19785 which is quite reasonable. The Limited at 27,585 not so much!

  • avatar

    Hyundai/ Kia’s interior materials, fit and finish, and equipment availability for the price is better than the Japanese competitors. “Auto enthusiasts” can talk about driving dynamics all they want.

    For the vast majority of buyers, this will be their first car and “driving dynamics” doesn’t even compute. This is an entry-point into the soul-less econobox.

    Only Hyundai’s do have Seoul.

    Simple fact is, by copying the Germans and underpricing the Japanese, Hyundai has put together CLASS-COMPETITIVE PRODUCTS.

    The icing on the cake is their financing department which “MAKES GOOD DEALS” to ensure they get you into a car responsibly.

    I’ve been very happy with the 2013 Azera and I will most likely grab a Sonata 2.0 in June.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      US Bank Notice: $1.74 received from Hyundai Co.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      It’s not even about driving dynamics. That Sonata 2.0 you are looking at is slower than a base 2.4L CVT Accord, with way worse fuel economy. They absolutely neutered the 2.0T… it’s not worth buying at all for someone who SCREAMS HELLCAT AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

      I’m feeling like it’s not any cheaper or better built than a Honda/Toyota either. They don’t make bad cars but they don’t offer reasons to be bought over the competition either.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You are right that driving dynamics don’t matter to most buyers, but they do to this buyer. Until they get the dynamics even as good as a Honda or Toyota, nothing doing.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        “Dynamics as good as Toyota” – thanks for the laugh.

        Forget dynamics – H/K have surpassed Toyota when it comes to ride (now that Toyota is so intent on proving that they aren’t “boring” and “vanilla.”

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Generally, that description holds more true for Kia than for Hyundai (which is a mixed bag).

      And within the Japanese, there is wide variance.

      Mazdas tend to have the better (if not top notch within their respective segments) interiors.

      Honda is a mixed bag (previous Civic), but if the new Civic is any indication, Honda seems to be intent on reliving their past glory (albeit the interior in the current Pilot is underwhelming).

      Nissan – also a mixed bag (the refreshed Sentra has a much improved interior).

      Of the Big 3 Japanese – find Toyota to be the worst.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Hard plastic covers the front seat backs, which I found low-end,…”

    There are 3 companies that I know doing this – Hyundai, Kia and BMW

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think BMW has done this for quite some time now. IIRC my brother’s 97 318tI had plastic there.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I’m fairly certain they do this so they can get an extra 1-2″ of knee room out of the same front to back space compared to a regular seat-back.

        Spirit Airlines does something similar with their seating that gives them an extra few rows to work with compared to a 737 with traditional seats. BTW, don’t fly on them – it’s like being in a sardine can.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          Spirit Air – the Greyhound of the skies
          Spirit Air – for those who cant afford a bus ticket
          Spirit Air – where your carry-on costs more to fly than you

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Chevrolet / GMC did the same on the last generation Tahoyukoburbalanche. I hated those stupid plastic front seat backs. They got scratched up constantly from the kids and eventually would come loose.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    They should have never dropped the 2.0L option from the previous generations sport model, the same engine that is still offered in the Elantra GT. That, with the manual they also offered with it, would be exactly the thing to take on the Mazda/Civic you mentioned. Not to mention an engine that would be able to keep that Civic in your sights a bit longer.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      There’s a new “Sport” model coming with the 1.6T ~200 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        BlueEr03

        Oh, well that is good at least. It is about time Hyundai starts using that in anything other than the VT. Kia has had the option in the Forte/Koup/5 door for a few years now. I had wanted to get the Forte5 SX but couldn’t find it anywhere when I bought my Elantra GT.

  • avatar
    Snail Kite

    Front looks a bit like an Audi that has melted.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like it. I’d get cloth seats and no sunroof.

    The fuel economy is impressive.

    But “low end grunt” and the Atkinson cycle engine design are mutually exclusive. It’s interesting that Hyundai chose to use an Atkinson cycle engine without it being a hybrid, which is the usual application for this type of design.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “The eight-speaker Infinity audio system sometimes sounds tinny, especially at low decibels, while the surround sound — even when center-weighted — always seems to emanate from the dash.”

    It really is strange how the branded factory stereos – such as Bose, Infinity, and Alpine – tend to send way too much mid-range sound to the dash, through small drivers, and bounce it off the windshield. Tweeters work great with a close, direct path to your ears, but not mids, in my experience. Those need to be a similar distance to the larger drivers to blend properly.

    Obviously not a direct comparison, but when I was test driving Mazdas a couple weeks ago, we stopped over at my buddy’s house to switch seats, examine the vehicles, and play with the stereos in his driveway, since he lives close to the dealership. We found the base stereo in the Mazda3 GS to be far more pleasant than the Bose in the uplevel CX-3. The CX-3 was all muddy bass with harsh mids. The Mazda3 had a balanced sound out of its more basic components.

    I don’t doubt that the Bose would go louder, but I certainly didn’t want to turn it up to find out.

    Speaking of harsh mids near the ears, one of the worst examples is the rear roof speakers in the Dodge trucks with the Alpine system. After driving around in that a bit with the tunes cranked one night, our buddy in the back complained that his arm was getting tired. We turned around to find him holding his palm against the speaker to block it out. We disconnected those speakers and the sound improved dramatically back there. We didn’t notice much difference in the front though. The harsh dash speakers dominate there.

    Alpine and Infinity have been our go-to mid-level aftermarket speakers for many years. I don’t know why they don’t just use those in the factory systems.

    Anyway, from the pictures, this Elantra looks very handsome for an economy car, both inside and out.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Would much rather have a golf. Could probably swing a GTI if I were shopping towards the 27k mark.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    The Honduh Civic is huge – it is as large or larger than the original accord. Honduhs have migrated to the all you can eat buffet – they are all bloated and outrageous in size. Detroit was lambasted for this and it is time to point the finger (a raised middle digit) to Honduh for their loss of direction.

    Hyundai right now builds the better Honda. Honduh builds a 1960’s American car without the styling – bloated.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Hyundai right now builds the better Honda…

      I wonder if the public agrees (ie resale values) ?

      My minivan seeking daughter (more grandchildren, yes!) just got a pretty shabby trade-in on a 3 yr old Kia Optima.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      All the cars in this segment are larger than the cars that bore midsizer names ~30 years ago. One thing doesn’t change though. The ideal car size is basically where all of these “compacts” reside. The rising sales of this segment against the falling sales of the segments below and above it speak to this.

      If you want an old school penalty box, buy a Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Honda still does engines and suspensions right. Hyundai’s engines range from okay (the 3.8 V6, the 1.6T) to terrible (2.4, 2.0T), and their suspensions are the ones that feel like 1960s American cars.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Don’t forget the big Hyundai 5.0 V8!

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        @dal

        The suspensions on the latest models are good enough to beat Mazdas in comparison tests.

        Hear more complaints about Toyota suspension tuning these days.

        Did you even bother reading the review or were you just intent on spreading your agenda notwithstanding what was stated in the review?

        “With these changes, plus a McPherson strut setup up front, the Elantra does an admirable job insulating the driver from the road surface, and turn-in is always flat and drama-free. No hop, shimmy, bounce or undue vibration were noticed, nor were there any squeaks or rattles in the body.

        Nicely weighted steering adds to the driving comfort and the vehicle’s sense of stability, and is welcome when attempting to have some fun.”

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Size comparison to the original Accord is irrelevant. The ’76 Accord hatchback was smaller than a Pinto in every dimension. It was big only compared to clown cars like first generation Civic or an MG Midget. No one sells a car that small anymore, because no one would buy it.

      On the other hand, first (’79) Accord sedan was roughly the same length as a downsized Mustang II, but a few inches taller and narrower. The current generation Accord…is roughly the same length as a new Mustang, just slightly taller and narrower.

      The Civic is two inches longer and an inch shorter than this Elantra. Same width and wheelbase.

      Tell me more about pathetic residuals and warranty disputes on your “Better than a Honduh” Hyundai.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I see that the design school of “same sausage different lengths/widths” is alive and well.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Actually, I think this is a step back from the outgoing Elantra, styling wise.

    If I were buying one, I’d pass on the sedan and get the GT hatchback, with the 2.0, manual, and glass roof. Not the sportiest ride on the road, but pretty solid for the class.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      I drove a manual Elanta GT for three years. Not a bad car, gas mileage was fantastic. About 70% highway driving I averaged 34-35 mpg. Hwy at 70 I’d get 43-46 mpg. Never had an issue with the car. Shifer was a bit notchy compared to a Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I agree. I think the last one was the best looking compact of its generation. Shame it didn’t drive anywhere near as good as it looked. The last one with the 1.6T would have been really nice.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “No car exists in a vacuum (thank you, capitalism!)”

    Depending on who’s writing, the XTS does.

  • avatar

    My, my.

    My very first new car–actually, my only new car, having long since learned the wonders of letting someone else take the depreciation hit–was a 2000 Elantra with “Options Package Six”, meaning no ABS but that all-important sun roof and rear spoiler.

    It was a hoot of a car to drive, and made it north of 100k at the hands of a college student before it finally died–my fault–when it introduced itself to an F-150 at relatively low speeds.

    Looking this latest revision over, it’s interesting that Hyundai has come so far, and yet there’s still a few oddities the brand seems to have a hard time with. While the 135HP (downrated after the scandal from 140) in my 2000 Elantra was considered class-leading, I’m surprised Hyundai has only trotted up HP by 12 over all these years. Really surprised, as a matter of fact.

    That complaint about an on-center sound system feel? I had the same issue way back when. While the ergo was good in the 2k, I’m not surprised to see the complaint about the chintzy door interiors repeated as well. For whatever reason, Hyundai doesn’t seem to think they’re a priority.

    One thing I remember about that 2000 was a killer greenhouse. I don’t think this generation has it.

    What I’d be really interested in knowing is if Hyundai ever fixed the issues with its axles. I experienced them in two Elantras (we owned a used 2002 at one point) and a 2002 Sonata. Basically, it’s not dangerous, or anything, but you get vibration through the steering column at highway speeds. It seems to come on after 30-40k and was rectified in at least one case with a new “left axle” according to a dealer who’d seen it before (I can vouch said “fix” worked for a while).

    It’s funny how cars can be like people, with good and bad traits moving down the ole’ DNA.

    • 0 avatar

      I too had a 2000 Elantra, but I bought mine used in 2002. It was a pretty good car and surprisingly fun to drive. The handling on it was pretty good, and it was a solid, comfortable little car.

      I was thinking the same thing as you that in all these years, the Elantra has only gained about 12 horsepower. Not that it needs more, but with all of the advancements in technology in the past 17 years, it’s surprising that it hasn’t bumped up more

      Regardless, I miss that old Elantra. I loved the quirky design pattern on the cloth seats and door inserts, the cushy seats, and just the sold simplicity of it. It was a good car

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’ll take a 174 hp Civic hatch instead, thanks.

  • avatar
    redliner

    $27,000?! Holy moly. Either my perception of reality is really warped, or this thing is crazy expensive.

    Yes, I know it’s well equipped, but at that price I would just march over to the Ford dealer and get a Focus ST or perhaps a loaded Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    The silver trim in the HVAC control area looks a lot like a Honda H.


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