2016 Hyundai Elantra GT Review

Hyundai has an uphill battle in ridding itself of the less-than-desirable image its older products carried.

Up until the fifth–and current–generation, the Elantra didn’t do much to dissuade people from thinking of Hyundai as a brand to go to out of budget necessity rather than desire. People are also keeping their vehicles longer now than they ever have before, so there’s still a chance that the “old” Hyundai is still sticking in your mind.

For the Elantra, that all changed with the 2011 model year when Hyundai began impressing customers and reviewers alike with an especially stylish new generation. But as these things tend to, the Elantra’s initial appeal is petering off.

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The Dwindling Hatchbacks

Toyota cancelled the Matrix, there isn’t currently a Civic hatchback and neither Chevrolet nor Dodge offer a product in this segment. Hyundai is one of only a few brands that still offer a compact hatchback. If you are thinking about buying one, the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda3 are also both worth a test drive.

The Elantra was starting to look a little long in the tooth until last year, but that’s all over because there’s a refreshed version in showrooms for the 2016 model year.

Hyundai’s “fluidic” design language isn’t the Elantra’s only merit, but it made people look twice who probably wouldn’t have done so otherwise. The Seoul brand’s latest products already moved on to Fluidic 2.0, a more mature looking design, but that shift calls for a new generation. For now, the Elantra GT gets thick horizontal slats in its grille that replace a large portion of the body colored plastic bumper on previous models.

2016-Hyundai-Elantra-GT-12It also comes with newly designed 17-inch alloy wheels that probably wouldn’t mean much on their own, but they compliment the new grille design. Ultimately, it gives the 2016 Elantra GT a more premium outward appearance than it had before, which is important in a segment that forced Honda to re-design the Civic not once but twice in three years. Style counts and Hyundai’s abacus is running extra shifts steam to keep up.

Spritzing the Cabin

Same goes for the interior where you will find a re-styled center stack. The part of the dashboard that houses radio and climate controls in last year’s model had an hourglass shape, but the refreshed version uses fewer curves and harder edges, but you’re more likely to notice the fact that Hyundai is also offering heated and cooled seats for both the driver and front passenger.

Hyundai built its reputation on offering more for less, but competing products are catching up by offering competitive content. Heated steering wheels, mirrors and seats aren’t exclusive anymore, so Hyundai is using other means to differentiate its products. The refreshed Elantra GT offers its latest navigation system, but it goes farther than that by integrating the latest version of Blue Link.

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That’s Hyundai’s embedded telematics system, of which the latest version offers users the ability to control certain features through a mobile app. For example, you can set the climate control, locks and even start the engine from a cell phone or smart watch through the latest version of Blue Link.

Pricing

The 2016 Elantra GT carries a base price of $19,625 including delivery and for that, you get a 173-hp 2.0-liter direct injected four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission. Hyundai’s products are greatly improved relative to what they were only a few years ago, but the manual gearbox is still something we would avoid because it comes with a touchy clutch that can be difficult to operate smoothly in heavy traffic. The six-speed automatic is a $1,000 option that we highly recommend.

2016-Hyundai-Elantra-GT-6Hyundai’s steering still can’t match the Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3 or Ford Focus. Those cars offer a more responsive and progressive turn-in as you roll through a corner. The Elantra’s steering isn’t bad, but it also isn’t great.

Other features on the standard equipment list include heated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, remote keyless entry and a telescoping height adjustable steering wheel.

Hyundai also offers a “style package” for $1,975 that includes leather seat upholstery, a power driver seat, the new 17-inch alloys and a sportier suspension. That package also includes Blue Link, aluminum pedals, push-button ignition and an auto-up driver’s side front window. Including that package, the car costs $21,600 and represents a compelling package within its segment.

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2016 Hyundai Elantra GT Review: The Verdict

The Mazda3 offers more equipment and a sportier driving experience, but it isn’t as comfortable as the Elantra GT. Ford’s Focus is also more engaging to drive and available with more convenience technology, but the trade-offs are small.

  • Mike R

    I dont understand why Hyundai borrows so many styling cues from competitors, I know theres only so many ways to design a jelly bean these days, But a complete photocopy of certain parts are silly, at least change it a tad, This has the Ford Grill, Front fenders from a 2012 or so Mazda 3, in which the overall design is similar to it also.

    Whether its Samsung copying cell phones or Hyundai copying cars, it lowers their credibility in the publics eye.

  • Phil

    I’m not so sure I see those similarities.

  • Tom

    The ford grill was copied from aston martin when they stole the aston martin design engineer

  • Mark S

    Bit of VW at the back, but do like the way Hyundai is dailing the crazy swoops and the interior is beginning to look great. Mazda seats can feel like the lack padding over long distances but you don’t notice when driving, steering is superb.

  • Guest

    htgh

  • Kennedy Poi

    This is the i30 design from Europe sold in Australasia and the rest of the world that use the i series. The design is an facelift version of the 2012 i30!

  • Daniel

    I have the 2013 Elantra GT, and I absolutely love it. These changes are VERY minor. Looks like just the grill. I have the standard stereo (not the nav upgrade), so I know the center stack looks different from my car but I’m not sure if that’s new for 2016 or if it just looks like the previous version with the nav system. But it’s 99% the same car.

  • chris

    I think they are on the right track here. This is a very good car. I have a Sonata 2.0t that I love (2012- pre detune). I have to say though after having the 2.0t I want something a bit more fun to drive. The focus ST is next on my list. While it is at a bit of a higher price point from a performance standpoint it offers more. Contrary to belief , the hatch market is not doing that bad. There are a lot of options out there. Maybe too many. I think Hyundai is really trying to get its footing here, after dropping the 2.0t version of the Genesis coup, Retooling the Genesis sedan being in the works and the failed Azera which does not seem to fit anywhere in the line up price or otherwise. I have read about infighting between the old school folks and the newer forward leaning crew in development but I Think the primary focus is on future design with a few back flips to old thinking like with the Azera. Not saying it is a bad car it just does not fit well between the Sonata and the Genesis. I look forward to anything new from Hyundai. I have owned a fair number of cars but the Sonata over all has been the best most reliable car I have owned. I am greatly disappointed in what they did to the car and I will not buy another Sonata because of that. If i choose the same platform again I would get the Kia as they did not try to castrate the power for unknown reasons.

  • Yeah ok!!! The Ford Focus made top 10 most unreliable vehicles in consumer reports!

  • I have always owened either a Ford, Chev, or Chysler, never again, the Elantra GLS is fabulous, and handles amazing!