Ace of Base: 2018 Hyundai Elantra SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Surprises are rare in the car world, given that most companies leak like a screen door on a submarine (or endlessly tease a new model *ahem, Challenger, ahem*), but it occasionally does happen. Last night in Park City, Utah, Hyundai took the wraps off a mid-cycle refresh for its Elantra, an event that was unexpected by all hands.

The 2019 model’s styling will surely be commented upon by a news author here on the site later today. Until then, it is worth revisiting the current model in an effort to understand how it continues to hoover up sales to the tune of about 200,000 cars annually.

The base Elantra, in SE trim, has an equipment list longer than a Michael Cohen guilty plea. Air conditioning is standard, a feature your author considers a new-car essential. It would appear from the comments that many of the B&B feel the same. A tilt/telescope wheel and height adjustable driver seat are on tap but, oddly, selecting the no-charge manual transmission causes Bluetooth capability to vanish from the spec sheet. Perhaps the company doesn’t think we can talk and shift gears at the same time.

A 2.0-liter inline-four lies under the hood, making 147 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is available on the SE, the only trim where one can spec that shifter, save for the expensive Sport model (which carries a different engine).

On the current car, a natty set of tail lights that look like triple afterburners have been traded for lines-n-slashes in 2019. All eight colors are offered gratis, refreshing when so many manufacturers limit choice to the greyscale on base models.

Don’t worry about flat-black side mirrors belying your frugality. The base Elantra has that covered – literally – with body-colored caps. Power windows (with one- touch service for the driver) and a 60/40 split rear folding seat appear on the SE, but cruise control does not.

The base model does deploy rear drums – a minor disappointment. It attempts to make up for this thumb-in-the-eye to safety by offering side curtain airbags for the front and rear passengers as standard, along with the expected inflatables up front. The driver gets a knee airbag, too. Fifteen-inch steelies are found at each corner, shod in reasonable 195/65/15 rubber.

Hyundai’s warranty reassures a lot of new buyers, guaranteeing five full years of roadside assistance, no matter how much you drive, while the powertrain is covered for twice that time frame.

Incentives generally go unmentioned in this series, but it is definitely worth noting that certain markets can find $4,600 leasing cash on the hood of a base Elantra. With an MSRP of $16,950, that’s nearly 30 percent off. Now there’s a surprise.

[Images: Hyundai]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They stoke the fires of our flinty cheapskate hearts. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate today’s selection.

The model above is priced in Freedom dollars and shown with American options and trim. Destination charges can go pound sand. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Tsoden Tsoden on Aug 22, 2018

    I bought my Elantra in 2014 (2013 model). Compared it to the 2014 Corolla and 2013 Mazda 3. The Corolla did NOT impress me - the styling was fine, but it just did not feel as refined - engine was quite coarse, and I really was disappointed by the lack of brightness on the standard LED headlamps. The 2013 Mazda 3 would have been much cheaper - was quite refined, BUT the back seat was too small. Even though the 2014 redesign 3 was out, it was not even a consideration due to inflated costs compared to the outgoing 2013. In the end, the 2013 Elantra (GLS trim) has suited me just fine. hard to beat a 5 year bumper to bumper warranty too. The car has been quite solid - only a couple minor quirks that the warranty covered.

  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Aug 22, 2018

    Even in Las Vegas, where dealers don't even try to make good deals, these are routinely advertised at $13.5k, which makes them a screaming deal. But they're thin on the ground, because they're either loss leaders, or bait-and-switch-mobiles for people who want/need an automatic.

  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.