2021 Hyundai Elantra: The Face of Determination

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2021 hyundai elantra the face of determination

Hyundai has plumped up the Elantra for the 2021 model year — a task made possible by the manufacturer swapping to the new K3 platform. The architecture switcheroo means extra body but not the corresponding bulk. Despite adding roughly an inch to the model’s wheelbase and 2.2-inches to the vehicle’s entire length, Hyundai says the revamped sedan is lighter than before, with a lower center of gravity. That ought to pair well with its wider track during spirited bouts of driving.

However, let’s not pretend the Elantra is a sports sedan — not yet, anyway. As Hyundai works on the hotter N-Line variant (something the manufacturer just confirmed, with a full-blown N model rumored) most cars will be optioned closer to base. This is still a vehicle most people will buy to save money on their daily commute. Knowing this, the factory focused the brunt of its attention to enhancing passenger comfort, standard features, efficiency, and style.

The updated looks are obviously the standout feature. While your author was in the minority of people who felt the current Elantra’s 2019 facelift was passable, this opinion has changed over time. The new sedan takes some of the flair Hyundai was trying to add with the last round of visual updates while maintaining the maturity of the cars that came immediately before the facelift. Headlights and taillights are more detailed and modern, there’s some pretty aggressive ceasing on the doors, and it looks sleek thanks to its longer length (184.1 inches in total) and lowered roofline.

Inside, Hyundai says dimensional improvements have upgraded shoulder room and provided more legroom for rear passengers. It’s also quite a bit more interesting than its predecessor. Air vents span the width of the dashboard (though much of this is an optical illusion) and there’s a passenger grab handle near the gear selector (à la Lexus LC). You can even option it with dual 10.25-inch screens — similar to what we’ve seen on Mercedes-Benz vehicles. But the standard 8.0-inch touchscreen isn’t much of a downgrade.

Base trim Elantras now boast wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (something new for the segment). They also get forward collision warning, lane keeping with assist, and automatic high-beams as standard equipment. Much more can be had, of course, for those willing to spend the money, including keyless entry with smartphone pairing.

In fact, the only place you might think Hyundai could have done more is the powertrain. A carryover 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder linked to continuously variable automatic transmission is standard, and its 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque aren’t setting the world on fire. It’s smack dab in the middle of what we’d expect for the segment, if not slightly below expectations. On the upside, it won’t waste much gasoline — nor will the 1.6-liter hybrid that’s also available.

The hybrid setup offers 139 combined horsepower (43 of which come from a small electric motor). Again, lacking. Still, Hyundai said it’ll help drivers average at least 50 mpg once the EPA finishes testing the new Elantra. That’s about on par with what its hybridized rivals manage, and those models are all smaller and typically come with CVTs. The hybrid Hyundai makes use of a six-speed dual-clutch, which is a nice surprise. That said, the manufacturer made it clear that the sedan (hybrid or base) is tuned for efficiency instead of performance.

Fuel sipping isn’t your bag? That’s okay. We assume the N Line comes with more power, a la Elantra GT N Line , we just can’t say when or by how much. We only know the first 2021 Hyundai Elantras commence production in the fall, barring any virus-related delays. Pricing may be a tad steeper than in years past, though it’s doubtful the brand would kneecap the model by sending its starting price into the stratosphere. The sedan’s success likely hinges on Hyundai offering everything you’d find with the competition, with a smidgen more space and some fancier features. We’re guessing the updated model starts a few bucks below $20,000.

[Images: Hyundai]

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2 of 32 comments
  • Deanst Deanst on Mar 20, 2020

    Just make it a hatchback if you’re going to do this. And the plastic on the c pillar needs fixing yesterday.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Mar 21, 2020

    Aaaaannnndddddd...Hyundai and Kia have switched places again as to who makes the more attractive car. Kia wins this round.

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.