2019 Hyundai Elantra Refresh Actually Refreshing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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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.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCBeen to Vancouver many times headed to Whistler Blackcomb to go cross county skiing and snowboarding. Beautiful place awesome snowboarding.
  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
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