By on March 18, 2020

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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32 Comments on “2021 Hyundai Elantra: The Face of Determination...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like it, despite the busy grille.

    But I’d consider the hybrid over the 2.0 CVT, which just sounds sad.

    And finally, a well-integrated center display!

  • avatar

    My eyes burn it.

    Also why would you put a Z on the door of a car without a Z in the name.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Wow. That interior is pretty darn impressive for this class of car. Count me impressed.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Wow. That cockpit is pretty darn impressive for this class of car.

  • avatar

    With aero and safety so important these days we up with styling like this. Not horrible but I need to see it in person. I do have serious doubts about that steering wheel tho.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      They should have used the Ioniq steering wheel. It’s my DD, and very comfortable.

  • avatar

    I’m a fan.

  • avatar

    Very nice. Hyundai is pouring gas on the fire of compact sedan market.

  • avatar

    A face only my lawn mower could love

    • 0 avatar

      I think there’s a LOT to like here, and it does look expensive from most angles. But much like the new Sonata, that grille is just…ugh. What a shame.

  • avatar

    The interior look nice apart from that diagonal piece separating the passenger seat from the climate controls. I guess it’s supposed to add to a more cockpit-like feel?

    Exterior rear three-quarters also looks interesting and different, and the new front end (the hood and the grille) does give it a design language consistent with the current Sonata.
    I’m not a fan of the latest grille design of recent Hyundai. Almost as bad as the Mazda joker grins from the Franz von Holzhausen days.

  • avatar

    I will believe it when I feel those knobs and switches – weak spot in Hyundai. The steering wheel design takes away my favorite spot to hold it at 220°. Long overhang. And of course, no interest without manual option.

  • avatar

    Hard PASS.

    I know. Everybody loves H K. I have many issues with H K . Let me give you ONE example.

    On the last 3 newish H K cars I saw at traffic lights. 3 cars x 3 stop lamps. of the 9 Lights. TWO WERE WORKING.

    TWO !!!!!!


    • 0 avatar

      were they LED lamps? if not, well, bulbs burn out. and owners aren’t all that diligent about replacing them when they do.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT


      You have repeated that story many times on here. And you story is not anecdotal of how long bulbs last. Those of use that are owners-know the bulbs last much longer than that.

      My wife’s Hyundai Santa Fe XL-AWD is a great vehicle and it’s three years old-and all bulbs work.

      So-let’s move one from the H/K’s have bad bulbs syndrome-you are smarter than that.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        The bulbs in my wife’s 2017 Hyundai all work fine. It is things like the windshield washers and I suppose the machining process for the block that weren’t done so well.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “aggressive ceasing (sic) on the doors, … and lowered roofline.”

    Matt those are negatives not positives. As is that grille. I have noticed other Hyundais with that grille, in particular Palisades with massive amounts of snow trapped against the front end/rad. I wonder how much road debris can also make its way in to possibly cause some damage?

    Do like the interior, in particular the fact that it has actual dials and a screen that is integrated into the instrument panel/dash rather than tacked onto the top.

  • avatar

    That is one ugly exterior. Shame because the interior is class leading. Approach only under cover of darkness.

  • avatar

    IMO: Another ugly new Hyundai. Hyundai lost its way. BTW reminds me Chevy Malibu.

  • avatar

    Seems like, at least from a sizing and ‘daring’ styling standpoint, Hyundai’s chasing the Other H Carmaker’s strategy. Clearly it’s working for Honda at possibly the expense of the Accord. Now, the Elantra already outsells the Sonata, so is Hyundai OK with potentially sinking the effort they’ve put into the Bahsten Pahkah?

  • avatar

    It is front ends like this that make me happy there are aftermarket suppliers out there. This thing makes the F&F cars look good.

  • avatar

    While I can see what the designers were trying to do, they ultimately failed in making it a cohesive design.

    Too bad they didn’t stick to the simpler/cleaner lines of the interior when it came to the sheetmetal.

  • avatar

    This will be a nice design when its fixed in a couple of years.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

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

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