Cheap and cheerful no longer defines the compact car segment.
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: six speed auto or six speed manual
Fuel Economy: 29 city / 38 highway / 33 combined mpg
Starting Price: $17,985 including destination
As Tested Price: $27,585 As tested (Limited with Ultimate Package)
The elegant Hyundai Elantra proved this by hitting 241,706 new homes last year. In the small car world, that’s hot on the heels of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, two names that have been around for a long time.
The Elantra is significantly more attractive than those two Japanese cars, a likely reason why it has been so popular. This year, Hyundai is upping the ante to provide a car that not only looks great, but has all the equipment and safety tech you’d ever want in a car, at an equally attractive price.
Under the Hood
Starting at $17,985 including destination, the Elantra is already catching the eyes of the budget-oriented. Along with a low starting price, the car comes with a fairly frugal engine. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine uses multi-port direct injection and an Atkinson cycle to keep emissions down, though the output seems low too at just 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. When paired to the new six-speed automatic transmission, expect to see 29 mpg in the city, 38 mpg on the highway and 33 combined mpg.
The new engine may be low on power compared to other compacts, but it is notably smooth and responsive, and the new transmission changes gears quickly to get you up to speed. A drive mode button by the gear shift allows you to put the car into Eco or Sport mode, changing the way the throttle and transmission responds, and there’s even a small change in the steering effort, too. But for those looking for a sportier, more powerful compact, will find it with the Elantra Sport that will debut later this year.
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Similarly, for drivers focused on fuel economy, the Elantra Eco will be offered using a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that will make just 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. That will be paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and Hyundai estimates it will see 35 mpg combined.
Hyundai has updated the Elantra beyond the powertrain though, cutting weight down to 2,767 pounds in the most basic trim. The vehicle also features significant suspension changes, with the angle of the rear shock absorbers and the position of the coil springs on the coupled torsion beam axle being changed completely. This results in a very composed handling compact, especially in combination with the revised steering feel, which is nice and heavy. The new Elantra feels confident and refined in a way that few other compacts can compete with.
Inside the car, you’ll find a well laid out cabin with a style that’s similar to the new Tucson and Sonata. Simply put, it feels upscale and premium, though not to the same level as a fully loaded Mazda3. There are two available upgrades to the infotainment system, a seven-inch unit and an eight-inch one, and both units support Android auto and Apple CarPlay. Even without the smartphone augmented infotainment, the system is still useable and intuitive. Models can even come with an extra USB port to charge your devices.
The Elantra is also available with an upgraded Infinity-branded sound system, with eight speakers, including a center speaker and subwoofer. The systems use Harman’s patented Clari-Fi music restoration technology that can restore music quality that is often lost in compressed digital music files (like mp3s). Finally, fulfilling a dream seen at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Elantra will not only be offered with the Blue Link telematics system, but also smartphone and smart watch integration.
Green Conscious and Convenient
While the grey and black interior is a bit drab, the Elantra has a ton of available technology and convenience features. A segment-exclusive driver memory feature saves your seating and mirror position, and there are other hot offerings like heated front and rear seats and dual automatic climate control. Another convenience feature is the hands-free trunk opening system that’s borrowed from the Tucson. No waving of the feet or hands, just walk up to the rear of the car and it will recognize you’re waiting for the trunk to unlock and open up.
Helping to give this car a green-friendly nod from environmentalists is the fact that the seats use a Soy Foam that has a reduced impact on the environment than traditional seat foam. Passenger and cargo space is fairly good, though not class leading compared to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Cargo space is listed as 14.4 cubic feet and the rear seats fold with a 60/40 split.
On the road, the Elantra is noticeably quiet, thanks to thicker windows, more hood insulation and other sound-absorbing materials found in the pillars, inner fenders and floor pan.
Value Packed Safety Features
Hyundai finally updated its compact sedan with a number of safety features. In addition to the seven standard airbags, the Elantra will be offered with a forward collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, the latter element being exclusive to the segment. The sensor and camera array for the automatic braking also allows for adaptive cruise control and a lane-keep feature is also offered. The system not only warns you of leaving your lane, but will adjust the steering to keep you from straying too far. Finally, an enhanced blind spot assist feature is offered. This system will not only warn you of vehicles in your blind spot, but can detect vehicles that are accelerating into your blind spot, so you don’t accidentally cut them off. All of these features are expected to help the new Elantra earn a Top Safety Pick+ Rating from the IIHS.
Those gorgeous HID headlights seen on the test vehicles are optional extras, and feature automatic high-beams. The lights can also turn in the direction of the steering wheel, helping to light up corners at night. We tested all available features on the new Elantra and came away impressed, not only with the amount of content, but the low price of just $27,585 including destination.
The Verdict: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Review
Thanks to solid changes across the board, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra is more attractive than ever. With a low starting price and a lot of available features, the Korean compact will surely maintain its position as a go-to car in its class.