By on October 31, 2018

The Korean car maker has long since shed its also-ran status, enjoying sales success and the ability to grab a steadily growing portion of the market share pie.

Unlike a few others who shall not be named, Hyundai believes there are still customers out there who want to buy a well-equipped compact sedan with a price tag under $18,000. It believes this so fervently, in fact, that it refurbished the Elantra for the 2019 model year.

Endowing it with a pair of headlights that look sharper than a Ginsu knife, this Elantra looks markedly different than the last one that appeared on these Ace of Base pages. I’m not entirely sold on the kinda-Lexus front end treatment, but no one can say it looks boring. In fact, save for the top trim (which earns a snazzier set of LED peepers), all versions of the Elantra have the same front fascia, fog lights and all. Score one for economies of scale.

The base SE comes equipped with air conditioning, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Bluetooth gear, and a bunch of charging points for smartphones. The lone concession to frugality is the inclusion of Hyundai’s 5-inch infotainment screen, the smallest of three available and the only one without Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. You’ll have to rough it and make do, kids.

An inline-four displacing 2.0 liters – seemingly the industry sweet spot – makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. This is the same engine in all Elantras save for the Eco, which sports a 1.4L unit. This base SE is the only Elantra left standing with a clutch pedal, so get one while you can if you’re a fan of the brand. Sticks disappeared out of its big-brother Sonata ages ago.

Fifteen-inch tires sized 195/65 keep a lid on replacement costs. That 10 year powertrain warranty doesn’t hurt in that regard, either. Rear drums are an annoying cost cutting measure, as is the exclusion of safety nannies like lane keeping and blind spot monitoring, features which appear at no charge on all other trims.

This gives me pause, until your author realizes he routinely curses those systems in most other machines. There is no doubt they would be helpful to a new driver but perhaps instruction in bloody paying attention could supplant them. Just a thought.

At $17,100 plus freight but less a myriad of available rebate programs and subvented rates, the 2019 Elantra neatly undercuts even the cheapest crossovers from other manufacturers that are trying to claim those machines are the new point of entry into their brands. The case for well-equipped and affordable small cars lives on.

[Images: Hyundai]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

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47 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Hyundai Elantra SE...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “your author realizes he routinely curses those systems in most other machines. There is no doubt they would be helpful to a new driver but perhaps instruction in bloody paying attention could supplant them. Just a thought.”

    This line of reasoning bothers me. Why not condemn passenger side mirrors for the same reason? After all, if you’re really paying attention, you don’t need it! That’s what your neck is for! Back in my day, we had manual spark advance and we liked it!

    The point of these things isn’t to absolve the driver of paying attention; it’s to provide a backup layer. In heavy traffic, it doesn’t matter how attentive you are; it’s impossible to look everywhere at once. Blind spot detection covers the last half-second from the moment you most recently checked your six, and depending on what’s going on around you, that can come in pretty handy.

    Let me put it another way: BSD hasn’t saved me from hurling my car sidelong into a Ford Explorer, but it *has* notified me a second early of some dude diving in for a 20mph-closing-speed pass on my right hand side, meaning I don’t need to twitch back into my lane. Every twitch and wiggle avoided prevents an opportunity for a few other bad things to combine – maybe even ten cars back from me – to actually make bad stuff happen.

    In short, BSD is a way to provide more information to the driver, just like mirrors are. I don’t see that as a bad thing. If you’re not opposed to mirrors, you shouldn’t be opposed to BSD.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      I’m not sold on these systems. The way I drive, I’m rarely surprised by other drivers because I always assume they’re going to do something crazy and I take measures to prevent that and protect myself.
      The big worry with all of the nannies is that many drivers will completely zone out and rely on them completely. This will lead to an erosion of skills that I find undesirable.
      That being said, this is a pretty good Ace of Base car. If the economy crashes and the price of gas spikes, they will sell a lot of these.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        Early studies are already beginning to show that these systems cause drivers to rely on them – thus causing them to be even less aware behind the wheel.

        It also bothers me that this technology really isn’t ready for prime time – in the way early airbags weren’t ready and actually cost some lives. Too many false positives for automatic braking and it won’t work at all in bad weather – which is when one might actually want to use it.

        Also: Enjoy the $1200 cost of replacing a windshield because of the cameras involved.

        Look, let’s be realistic. These systems are being added to new cars as the result of a backroom deal between the government and automakers. In return for “voluntarily” including this technology, the government won’t breathe so heavily down the backs of the car companies in other areas. And let’s call these systems what they are: A way to enable a generation of drivers who can’t – or won’t – look up from their phones.

        Personally, I won’t have any of this in a vehicle of mine. I must be able to turn it all off – and have it stay off through key cycles. If not that, there must be a workaround – like pulling a few fuses. If not, no sale.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “Personally, I won’t have any of this in a vehicle of mine. I must be able to turn it all off”

          Why, though? Even if you think it makes other drivers lazy, what does that have to do with you? I drive a car with all sorts of assists and somehow am not compelled to play Fortnite on the highway.

          Also, if the systems are competently executed, you never even know they’re there. BSD will never beep if you don’t try to drive into someone – which, presumably, you won’t, being an attentive driver. Lane keep on my Genesis vibrates at me once in a blue moon if there’s a strange merge; otherwise it shuts up unless I’m driving over a line. Forward collision warning beeped once right before I passed someone on a two-lane, in 10k miles of driving.

          So what’s the big deal? I don’t get the religious fervor with which some attention assists (BSD, lane keep) are villified while others (side mirrors, windshield wipers, defrosters) are fine.

        • 0 avatar
          Train

          Steve O:

          Hilarious post. Are you still buckling your seat belt behind you so you don’t have to wear the worthless thing nor hear the warning buzzer? Welcome to the 1990s and automotive safety features designed to help keep you safe.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Totally agree with Mike Beranek

        Drove one time my relative’s NX in a rainy long trip (since owner fears big highways). NJ/NY – 1diot drivers everywhere. Trying to keep 65-70 and need to go around these folks. Just as I am trying to use mirrors to see how clear I am off these guys, the stupid yellow blinker fills my eye. This is horrible. I could of switch that off but I actually wanted to try. And I confirmed – nannies are trash

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Beranek

          That’s another good point- if you ARE a good driver who is paying attention, the nannies just serve as a distraction. I expect the car to do what I tell it to, when I tell it to, without any back-talk (kind of like my kids). The car works for me, not the other way around.
          What’s really scary is that they market these systems as the “Driver Confidence Package”, implying that some drivers don’t have the confidence to drive. If that’s the case, what in the hell are you doing out there?
          Rather than implement these nannies, I’d prefer a tougher test for obtaining (and renewing) a driver’s license, and a lower bar for suspension or revocation in the event of a (guilty) legal infraction.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I do like BSD. Backup cameras are okay. I LOVE adaptive cruise, when it works. Setting a speed, but keeping a certain distance behind someone is great, just don’t use it so you can text, use it so you can pay more attention to the traffic in front of you. But the Nissan Maxima I rented never worked right, turning itself off anytime it got a little confused.

      So I like some of these new technology out there. And while I embrace the day it can take over for us on the highway (I can see quicker commutes, and more time to read, a win-win), I won’t embrace it until it actually works, and everyone has it.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Perisoft: “but it *has* notified me a second early of some dude diving in for a 20mph-closing-speed pass on my right hand side…”

        I’m not really a huge fan of all of these newfangled (get off my lawn!) driving nannies, but I could like this one. I was in heavy traffic in the northern suburbs of Chicago when trying to merge into an off-ramp. Just as I decided to pull into the lane for the off-ramp, some @$$hole in a Sonata blows past us at least 20 over the speed limit.

        After all of the swearing was over, I decided I would like to have BSD on the next car…

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          @geozinger That’s the thing. It’s not some kind of magic; it’s just a usefulness extension of the mirror. As far as I’m concerned, I can use all the information my car can give me about what’s around it, rather than refusing to pay attention because it’s a moral imperative to make do with whatever technology happened to exist when I first got my license.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          geozinger

          you need to look into mirror with different mindset. Many people see me in their mirror but still get into my lane. They careless that I am going fast. This is like if someone pulls into the road when you traveling fast and now you have to brake. They see you. But they don’t care. “He will brake” they say. You need to actually see how car is moving not only if its there or not there. Totally on you dude. How you detected 20 over limit? did you have a radar or something?

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            @slavuta: I don’t really know how fast they were going, but it was impressive. In a very bad way. Which is why I said at least 20 over. Judging by the amount of dust and debris that he kicked up trying avoid other cars in front of me on the off-ramp, I’d guess faster than 20. Had this idiot hit and killed someone, I’d hope that the judge would give them the highest penalty. It was an incredibly stupid move in thick traffic.

            I’ve been licensed to drive for 40 years, I have three accidents to my demerit. All three have been someone else hitting me. I haven’t had a ticket in two decades, and I’m actually a rather cautious driver. The only distraction I tolerate is my radio, and unless it’s immediate family, I don’t take phone calls while driving. I will drive above the speed limit when conditions permit and below when the weather is not cooperating. I also have track time (not in the last five years, though) although that has limited use on public roads. I maintain my cars. For example, my beater minivan is getting new brakes even though I’m just now seeing wear on the front discs. I’ll also be spending money on new H-rated (130 MPH) tires for the same minivan, even though the only way that thing would ever see 130 MPH is when it is strapped to a missile.

            I think I got this, dude.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          geozinger,

          you said that you have a lot of experience and a careful and safe driver. But then I have a question – If you have not detected this guy (who of course also not a good thinker), then where was your experience?

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            I’m sure slavuta thinks of his/herself as a perfect driver, but that’s a load of bullcrap.

            Until mankind manages to perfect the fully automated self-driving vehicle and replaces each and every dumb vehicle with a so-called smart car, complete omniscience isn’t in the cards.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I think what you’re missing (or I didn’t make clear) is that I didn’t enter the lane for the off-ramp. I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye (and right mirror) and I immediately darted back into my lane.

            Experience? Possibly. Divine Providence? Maybe. Luck? More than likely.

            With the difference in closing speed, I’m glad I made the choice I did. If I hadn’t seen the car, who knows… I might still be in the hospital today.

            End of discussion.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “After all of the swearing was over, I decided I would like to have BSD on the next car…”

          Driving in the city makes me want to have CIWS on the next car.

    • 0 avatar
      mittencuh

      I totally agree with you. I love BSD. I think it’s very handy for situational awareness whilst hurtling down the interstate. It’s nice to be able to keep your eyes scanning the road ahead and also see the lights in the corner of your eyes notifying you that a car is approaching you. Especially at night.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      “In short, BSD is a way to provide more information to the driver, just like mirrors are. I don’t see that as a bad thing.”

      Good point, however…

      1. When a mirror stops working, it’s very obvious. When a sensor stops working, you either have yet another layer of electronic complexity to tell you it’s failed, or you find out the hard way.

      2. It’s better driving practice to see the shades of grey you’re merging into regardless of what a black-or-white sensor says. Do these things detect cyclists?

      • 0 avatar
        Train

        This reminds me of when Ford first put passenger-side mirrors on their big sedans and my father said something like “What idiot needs a mirror there when I can just look over my shoulder?” It seems the more that can be offered to make our rides safe, the better we all are. Even if it takes an extra mirror.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Very timely, as I’ve been helping a coworker shop plain-jane sedans, Elantra SEs and Forte LXs have been at the top of the heap for consideration.

    “Rear drums are an annoying cost cutting measure”

    As long as you keep beating that auto-journo drum, I’ll keep beating mine: they’re basically maintenance free and unaffected by corrosion in the rust belt, and work perfectly fine for a g*dd*mn Elantra SE that people just drive like normal humans to and from work/school/road-trips/etc. If it keeps the price of the car a bit lower on the front end AND saves me money over the long haul, who am I to complain?

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      Rear drums… are they actually cheaper than discs? I’ve heard it’s close, that they are a little more expensive than discs, but come in cheaper after you include the e-brake hardware. They are also harder to work on. But I’ve never owned a car with drums where I’ve had to replace them. And we are talking Saturns with 200k+ miles on them at the worst. They just work, they work for a long time, and as long as you don’t do something stupid like leave the e-brake on, or believe a dealer that says they need changed, you’ll be fine. Unless you have a track car (or are going to treat your car like one) they will do just fine.

      My 2007 Civic, on the other hand, has discs in the rear. When I bought it with 160k miles, the discs were pitted, corroded, and needed new pads. Sure, they are easy to work on, but this is a Honda, I’d expect better from them, even if it was disks, even though it is 160k. I don’t notice it stopping any better than any other economy car I’ve had.

      So I don’t know why all the drum brake hate, either.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I get the economic appeal of rear drums, but I like discs all around even on a small, light car.

      With four wheel discs, I never feel I’m “standing” on the brakes. I’ve driven plenty of cars with either four wheel drum brakes (I guess I’m THAT old) or disc/drums in good condition, but I never feel totally confident with them.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Once tires are locked up and/or chattering, they’re locked up and/or chattering, and the vast majority of the time on an unmodified car, it’ll be the front wheels (with disc brakes) doing that work. I must not drive like enough of a maniac on public roadways to appreciate the difference :P

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          I prefer rear discs if only for the wet performance. The combo of rear drums and skewed weight distribution when empty made my old Chevy truck a bit of a handful when starting out after a rainstorm or driving through puddles. This would be less of a concern in a subcompact car but honestly the cost difference to the manufacturer can’t be that much at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I had some serious sticking issues with the drums on my 4Runner last winter after falling through some ice into a mud hole when it was really cold outside. We made it out of the mud and went to warm up and get a beer to celebrate extricating ourselves, I always set the parking brake when I park. I go to leave, put the truck in gear, and I’m just sitting there revving against the torque converter. Huh? Finally I realize what’s going on, I give it some more gas and with a big CRACK I break free. I got home and took a blow dryer and spent about 20 minutes heating the drums and then spraying down my parking brake mechanism and cables with WD40.

  • avatar
    gtem

    FWIW, the best OTD quote I got from a midwestern dealer, just on a first pass inquiry, was $15,944. That’s with tax/title/tags/fees for an Indiana zip code. I don’t doubt one could do even better, but even that isn’t too shabby for literally zero negotiation.

    It’s amazing to me though at how incompetent and difficult some dealerships have been to provide an out-the-door quote over email. Some insist on needing a “quick chat over the phone,” others just continue to spam with auto-generated emails from the internet sales manager. Some absolutely insist that I need to drive out in person 200 miles to receive a quote on a new Elantra. Dude, there are literally thousands of Elantras for sale, why would I spend an entire day driving out just to get a price quote? They are simply hopelessly behind the times.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree 100%. This is a base Elantra, meaning that the original purchaser is going to be frugal, and drum brakes require less maintenance and are more robust, particularly in winter/snowy climates. Traditional (past?) Hyundai disc brake caliper design requires that the calipers undergo regular (bi-annual seems best) ‘lubrication/cleaning/adjustment’ when exposed to these elements, or else they can ‘seize’.

      And since the first two owners of this vehicle will not be pushing it to its driving dynamic limits, rear drums will be more than adequate.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      The dealership model no longer makes sense in 2018.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “Some insist on needing a “quick chat over the phone,” others just continue to spam with auto-generated emails from the internet sales manager.”

      Oh god, this. When I was car shopping last spring, it was like pulling teeth to get a damn quote out of anyone. I’d email places 300 miles away, and very specifically ask for an OTD quote with big text saying, “I AM 300 MILES AWAY AND CANNOT COME IN TO TEST DRIVE IT TOMORROW, DO NOT ASK ME” and in-freaking-variably, 100% of the time, they’d say, “Can you come in tomorrow to test drive it?” *steam from ears*

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    Factoring in that anyone with the most basic negotiating skills could get an additional 2-3k off that price it’s even more ace of base worthy

  • avatar
    gtem

    I had a ’17(?) as a rental about a year ago for a 1hr highway drive in each direction, and came away quite satisfied, and actually thinking “wow, wouldn’t it be nice to just have a normal newer compact to drive every day?” Ride/handling balance was spot on, adequate power and excellent fuel economy, interior was well put together and ergonomically sound, very good passenger space front and rear. I honestly couldn’t find any nits to pick. For someone seeking practical and comfortable transportation in the compact class, I’d put it near the top of the heap. If I wanted a more premium compact experience I’d probably pick a Golf. The Mazda3 is somewhere in the mix, less passenger space and a small trunk but more engaging to drive. The Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Focus, Cruze and whatever else are not really contenders any more in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      open country

      Agree 100%. I rented a 2017 “SEL” spec (essentially SE + touchscreen infotainment and alloys) for a 4-day work trip in San Diego, and was really happy with it. Quiet, felt solid, good ergonomics, non-CVT, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, and a freeway cruise at 75mph over about 50 miles with A/C on returned an indicated 47mpg.

      Local dealers in Texas are offering leftover 2018 “Value Editions” (SEL + sunroof, heated seats, auto climate, and leather-wrapped steering wheel) for $16,500 OTD. Extreeeemely tempting for a simple worry-free commuter, especially compared to a Civic or Corolla which trades hands at $5k more in my local market.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The base SE comes equipped with air conditioning, tilt/telescope steering wheel, Bluetooth gear, and a bunch of charging points for smartphones.

    AND manual transmission?

    Nice combo.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Cruise control yes/no?

    I’m currently driving a base 14 Jetta and that is the only thing I miss.

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      A review of the website answered my question. cruise control is automatic transmission only.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        At least on the -18 models, installing cruise was a matter of buying the OEM switch (and a short wiring harness) from Korea on eBay. Around $100, delivered.

        The code was present in the ECU; it’s plug-n-play. Under an hour, the forums say.

        I’m sure the kit for the 2019 will be available posthaste.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I’m not crazy about the 2019 refresh, but I’ve said many times the 2018 value edition package is a pretty sweet deal to me.

    • 0 avatar
      open country

      Agreed. Dealers local to me are offering screaming deals on the 2018 VE’s, which would be my recommended move before Hyundai beat it with an ugly stick for 2019.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    I actually like this model over the outgoing 2018 model. When the last model was introduced (2016?), I thought it looked a bit more mature than the outgoing 2013-2015) series, but Hyundai still played it safe as they did with the similar year Sonata. The 2013 generation had much bolder styling.

    2019 is not bad and quite fresh in my mind… it definitely has more edginess to it, however I am surprised that the interior did not change much at all…unlike it’s GT cousin.

  • avatar
    Hogey74

    Glad to hear discussion on the drivers aids thing. It’s been on my mind for years due to understanding a bit about the experience in aviation. The Cirrus aircraft came along in the late 90s and had a whole-plane parachute and soon after that, flat panel screens etc. These things were hailed as massive safety improvements. They weren’t. People weren’t trained on the parachutes and didn’t use them when needed. And the old-fashioned dials were no less safe than the awesome screens that presented info much more ergonomically. It emerged that when people had more aids they developed less situation awareness and this overpowered the benefits of better instrumentation and automation. With cars heading in a similar direction, here come the same problems.

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    This really must be a worthy Ace of Base vehicle, given that two more Ace of Base posts were already made for the very similar 2018 Elantra SE.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/12/ace-base-2018-hyundai-elantra-se/

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/08/ace-of-base-18-hyundai-elantra-se/

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    2018 Sonata SE is available under $18K. Full size interior in midsize body, 10 year warranty.
    Go big or go home.
    Sonata beats Elantra.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      If the Sonata can be found for $18k, an Elantra can be found for $14k. That’s still a sizable leap in budget. I generally agree that the upgrade to a midsizer is worth it, but the Elantra is really pretty competent at doing the commute/highway slog thing in a refined manner and has room to spare. The Elantra is basically a midsizer from the early 2000s.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    This is the kind of car I like to buy–with the manual trans, thank you.

    I owned a base (LX) 2011 Kia Forte manual (this car’s older cousin) and had great luck with it. My only complaint was no cruise control.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Don’t know what Schreyer was thinking when he approved the cosmetic changes for the MCE.

    Went from one of the better looking entries in the segment to one of the worst.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I drive a lot of rentals in my job and since it’s a corporate account at a low rate I get put in a lot of low-end cars. The location I rent from is mostly Korean cars and GM products with a few Chrysler (or whatever they go by these days) products thrown in. As a Ford guy I’ve asked why no Ford products and it’s because that location has a contract with the GM dealer down the road for customers needing a rental. The dealer demands that GM owners only get GM products. (If you have faith in your products wouldn’t you want your customers to drive the competition?)

    Anyway, I always have my fingers crossed for a Hyundai or Kia. Even the base models are well built and well equipped. And they look good too.

    (I have my fingers crossed that Hyundai/Kia follow through with their promise to put a turbodiesel in their mid-size SUVs. My wife will be replacing her ’14 Escape in a couple of years and the Hyundai/Kia would be perfect for us as we tow at the maximum weight with the Escape. The TD Kia Sorento would increase the towing capacity to 5000lbs and get better fuel economy doing it.)


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