2019 Hyundai Elantra Refresh Actually Refreshing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2019 hyundai elantra refresh actually refreshing

Currently the seventh best-selling sedan in the United States, the Hyundai Elantra is an fairly important model for the Korean brand. Sound engineering and some inoffensive bodywork has also made it a serious contender in a rather vicious little segment. Still in its sixth generation, the Elantra has undergone a mid-cycle update to maintain its edge within the group.

We’d like to give Hyundai credit for having the balls required to conduct a meaningful refresh. The 2019 Elantra almost looks like an entirely new model, rather than something slapped together to entice shoppers. Serious thought was put into this and, while we’re not ready to commit to it hosting superior styling to the comparably reserved 2018 model year, it’s definitely an acute car.

Apologies for the bad angle pun, but this thing has more points than a basketball game. The Elantra’s new front end was clearly designed by someone possessing a deep-seated triangle fetish. It’s not all about the vertices, though. New fenders keep the vehicle from becoming exclusively angular and the creased hood adds a touch of upscale aggression. The refresh results in a look that’s surprisingly playful without seeming immature.

Whether or not you find it appealing, the facelift was still a smart decision and smacks of effort on the part of the automaker. The compact car segment was tragically overstuffed with models almost indistinguishable from one another just a few years ago. Then someone decided to give designers more freedom and the problem cleared itself up almost overnight.

The 2019 Elantra is the next step in that process. Now that even laypersons can spot differences between it and the likes of a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, styling has become much more important, as it may actually help influence purchasing decisions.

Hyundai, more keen than ever to experiment visually, left the back half of the sedan looking decidedly sober. However, the perfectly handsome taillights do have this neat lightning bolt theme and the license plate migrates downward to the updated bumper.

Things inside are a little less kooky, but highly palatable. There’s some new instrumentation, an updated center screen, HVAC controls, and modernized air vents. It’s basically the same interior from last year made slightly better. Hyundai said it also added some additional sound deadening to help quiet down the ride and chucked in a new steering wheel (with Bluetooth controls) as standard equipment.

While the base SE trim gains nothing more than the updated looks and a rearview camera, the SEL picks up a few standard safety features. These include automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist and a driver-attention monitor. Higher trims also let you add a warning system that alerts you to passing vehicles before you open your door to exit the vehicle. It seems unnecessary if you are physically capable of turning your head, but it’s there if you want it.

That’s also true of the upgraded 8-inch infotainment display, now upgraded with a faster processor and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The standard unit is only 5 inches.

Engine options are a carryover from the previous year. SE, SEL and Limited trims come equipped with Hyundai’s 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle unit, generating 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the standard transmission in most models. However, the SE will be available with a manual variant using the same number of forward gears. The Eco trim swaps that for a seven-speed dual-clutch tranny and ultra-efficient 1.4-liter, turbocharged I4 with 128 horsepower but greater torque.

Despite Hyundai withholding some details on the Sport trim, it did say it will stick around for the 2019 model year. It’ll use the 1.6-liter turbo with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, which can be had with either the six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch. Sporting seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, new door trim, different instrumentation, and unique headliner should greet 2019 Sport buyers.

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra goes on sale later this year. While pricing has yet to be announced, we don’t expect it to change much from last year.

[Images: Hyundai]

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  • AK AK on Aug 23, 2018

    Exterior looks ok. Dash looks nice. Despite it's age, I'd still be buying a Mazda 3 in this class (though when the new 3 comes out, that may change).

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Aug 27, 2018

    With this facelift, the Elantra went from one of the better looking sedans to a mess (at least up front). The only positive thing is that this rendition is not long for the world as it will replaced by an all-new model in the not to distant future.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).