By on August 22, 2018

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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47 Comments on “2019 Hyundai Elantra Refresh Actually Refreshing...”

  • avatar

    Not too bad. Looks almost “mature” when compared (at least to my eyes, looks are subjective, I know) to the Civic and decidedly less boring than the Corolla. If hauling around my daughter and our dogs for dog shows (thus the need for our Grand Caravan and our in-town runabout Cruze HB), I’d seriously consider a Sport…with manual, please.

    • 0 avatar

      You’d be wise to consider the Sport. It’s a solid driver, and at the transaction prices I’m seeing around here ($19,000, give or take, with leather, sunroof, Android auto, heated seats, etc), it’s damn appealing.

      • 0 avatar

        Freed, unfortunately, I’m about six years away from any consideration of a “fun” vehicle! But I’d sure love to at least test-drive the Sport.

      • 0 avatar

        I own a sport and I can’t begin to tell you how much fun the car is. The car has some serious scoot. It sits low and handles turns REALLY WELL. Braking is stellar too. On the practical side of things, the interior space is roomy for a car this size (my 6’2″ son sits in the back seat comfortably). Trunk opening is a bit small, but the trunk itself is decent.
        I’m getting over 31mpg in the city -> all while trying to mash the go-pedal through the firewall and halfway into the intake. Throw in the price and that warranty? My only complaint is that the sport model gets some ‘deletes’ that are otherwise available on the limited trim: some safety features, power seats, etc. All space-saving stuff.. so I get it. Minor gripes at best.

    • 0 avatar

      I like it. Headlamps remind me of the SEAT Ibiza.

    • 0 avatar

      Forget the sport we need an N version of the sedan and hatch. Leave the interior alone besides the N fixings and dont put a tablet type touch screen

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is now the best-looking car in the segment, hands-down (especially since we’ve already seen the other compact refreshes for 2019, which include the Cruze and Civic). It’s even better than the new 2019 Kia Forte, which continues to look derivative. The Jetta takes a close second-place, but looks a little too convoluted to win first prize, IMO.

    I’ll be interested in seeing what the refreshed Sport model looks like, since that’s the one I’d go for.

    Great job, Hyundai. 10/10 on styling.

  • avatar

    It seems like H/K trade off on who can be the attractive offering. When KIA were, to my eyes, the more attractive marque Hyundais were exceedingly distateful. Now Hyundai are moving in the direction of understated attractiveness while KIA are turning into bloated guppies.

    The only styling gripe I have is that weird bifurcated taillight that Toyota started and has come into vogue. It can end any time now.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Agreed on the trading off comment. The current Optima looks a lot like the old one, but something got ruined in translation, and now the Sonata is the prettier of the two (especially with the ’18 facelift). Whereas before, I preferred the Optima to the Sonata.

      I will say that the Cadenza is a real looker, coming off like a Volvo S90 at a considerably-lower price. But Hyundai doesn’t have a product in that segment anymore.

      I think Chevrolet and GMC have a similar trading-off pattern, when they make cars on the same platform.

  • avatar

    Funny how nobody seems to be copying the current Toyota/Lexus styling themes.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Right. Although I will say that I like the ’19 RAV4, ’19 Avalon (massive grille and all), and ’19 Corolla Hatchback. But the Prius, Camry, and a lot of their other stuff? Feh!

      • 0 avatar

        It will be interesting to see if the Tacoma-esque styling of the RAV4 will turn people off. (Unlikely, since Toyotas/Lexuses sell in spite of their fugly looks.)

  • avatar

    *slow clap* well played Hyundai.

    Front facia looks to me like it took all the best aspects of a Jetta (generally grille and headlights and hood transition) and Prius (triangular “foglight/brakeduct” openings) and added a dash of originality.

  • avatar

    That’s a good design, for a small sedan.

  • avatar

    Wow, this is a nice looking car. Well done Hyundai.

  • avatar

    Nice, for what it is. I see a lot of Lexus going on in the back end

  • avatar

    Admittedly refreshing; they’ve finally managed to make a cohesive front end and not rip off everyone else. The noise in the design around the taillights is mostly from not needing to change the quarter panels to fit a different lens housing, but the interior needs a lot of work.

  • avatar

    I’m glad to see so many positive comments here, I always root for Hyundai-Kia to do well. That being said the lead pic looks shockingly bad to me. My first thought was ugly Prius angles. That being said by the time I got to the last pic in the story, the slightly different angle seems to soften the angles. I’ll have to see it in person (like all designs). I do like the back end, though I could do without the lightning bolt.

  • avatar

    I’d NEVER buy a Hundai

    • 0 avatar

      Great input, A+

    • 0 avatar
      Chuck Norton

      And I would never eat sushi.

      Whats your point? So-I can educate you after having own a 2017 Santa Fe XL for a little over a year.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I have a 17 Santa Fe that replaced an 07 Tuscon. The Tuscon was bar none the most troule free car I have ever owned. We got it new, put about 130k on it and never did anything to it outside of scheduled maintenance. It still had the original battery. Fantastic car. But stay hard man

      • 0 avatar

        Some people live in the past and can’t recognize the state of where manufacturers are at – or the growth they’ve made. Look at Honda: when they first started selling cars in the U.S., they were EXTREMELY CRUDE automobiles: paper-thin sheet metal (you could actually dent the car trying to wax it – but it didn’t matter, these things started rusting within as little as 3 years – to the point where Honda was making cash settlements to owners), skateboard-simple suspensions, and all powered with a revised CB450 motorcycle engine (all 50hp of it). That Honda doesn’t exist today. The Hyundai of 1986 doesn’t exist today either.

  • avatar

    Looked at specs of the 2018. Compression ratio for the NA 2.0L is 12.5:1. Is that correct? Seems pretty high. Higher in fact than the turbo 1.4 or 1.6L.

    What grade gas does this use. Drill down on Hyundai site says pump octane number 87 or higher or ROM 91. Here in the western us pumps are labeled 87/89/91. I have been told that the 91 selection simply gives you a pump 50/50 blend of 97 and 91

    I googled the subject but did not get a clear cut answer.

    So for the 2.0L engine in the Elantra would “regular” (87 marked on pump) work?

    • 0 avatar

      With the advent of direct injection, many modern naturally aspirated gasoline engines have high compression ratios like this. With DI, knock can be controlled by injecting fuel exactly when needed for the power stroke, instead of being injected for the intake stroke and withstanding the compression stroke. This engine will run fine on 87 octane fuel.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the information. How long has the Hyundai 2.0L been DI? Does it suffer from the valve coking reported on some DI engines or have they worked that problem out?

        • 0 avatar

          Volvo, unless there is a supplementary port injector, the Elantra will likely suffer from carbon build up on the valves like many other DI designs. The only way I’ve seen implemented to mitigate the carbon problem on DI cars is a secondary port injector. Other more educated than myself on this issue may weigh in.

      • 0 avatar

        The 2.0L in the Elantra (and Kia Forte LX and S models) uses multiport injection, not direct injection. That’s one of the reasons why people might want to consider it if they’re concerned about potential problems with DI. (Though I must say I have yet to hear of any problems with Hyundai/Kia DI engines.)

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Atkinson cycle effectively lowers the compression ratio. It’s for emissions and fuel economy.

      It’s also why the torque rating seems so low. Toyota hybrids use it since the electric motor masks the lower engine torque.

  • avatar

    The steering wheel isn’t my favorite, but wow. What a great looking car. If I’m looking to buy new next, I’ll have to drop by the Hyundai dealer.

  • avatar

    Not bad for a Hyundai design, not as derivative as usual, though I don’t like the taillights very much and the bottom spoke of the steering wheel looks like the Rolling Stones logo.

  • avatar

    This is VW, no?

  • avatar

    The first thoughts when seeing the pics were that it looks similar to the new Jetta – with a little Camry thrown in.

  • avatar

    It actually manages to look better in the flesh than in pictures. Mercifully, it also seems to signify a break from the awful decade plus long brainless copying of Bangle’s worst ideas. If we’re lucky, maybe Hyundai will buy BMW and help them finally escape from the dark shadow of Bangles horrid styling.

  • avatar

    Seems like a really nice all-’rounder. Would absolutely consider over Civic or Corolla. Nicely done. Still, like many these days, with all that stupid blanked off grill, a car that actually looks better with a front license plate. Cant believe I’m actually saying that…

  • avatar

    I like it, at least in pictures. The El’s front end is bold and should stand out in this segment while the rear has a mini LaCrosse thing going in the rear.

    I just hope the overall look doesn’t lose too much of its flair in the lower trim levels where triangular cutouts will likely replace the fog lights.

  • avatar

    I like it. I see a lot of VW Jetta in that fascia. Much better than the current “sad-look” fascia.

  • avatar

    I’m…honestly surprised by the positive response to the redo. I saw the current, pre-refresh coming up behind me on the highway the other day, and I thought, “man, THAT is a good looking little car”. The old one is more conservative, no doubt, but it had that subtle, minimalistic aggression to it that I associate with a certain period of ’90’s Japanese cars in a very positive fashion. The sextuplet afterburner LED rear rings on the Limited trim were an even cooler touch. I’m inclined to feel that the front is a little cartoony–something about the headlights feels a little plainly polygonal–and I’ll never be a fan of discontinuous trunklid-sidelight designs.

    It’s still not a bad design by any means, but its edge as my aesthetic favorite in the segment is diminished considerably.

  • avatar

    While Ford plans on cutting future car production various car companies around the world are still producing excellent family sedans. Imagine the pride we would all have if Ford could produce a new Fusion at the level of the 2019 Elantra. Instead of buckling down and displaying true innovation, Ford finds it easier to just say cars are dying and hand the entire segment over to the imports and GM. Sad as it may seem, Ford is going to fall behind just about every car maker in the world when it comes to car production. Every time I see one of these impressive new cars I realize that the Ford has basically given up.


  • avatar

    Why would you ever buy this over a new Jetta?

  • avatar

    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).

  • avatar

    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.

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