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If you’re looking for a car that’s safe and good-looking, compact enough for comfortable driving on overloaded city roads and narrow streets, and fuel efficient, opt for the Hyundai Elantra, which has been in the market since 1990. Although official data say it belongs to a compact car segment, in practice, it looks and feels like a mid-size car. It makes the Hyundai Elantra a good family vehicle. Furthermore, the car of the 2016 model year comes in a new five-door GT hatchback guise.
The car has strong rivals among which are the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Mazda 3. Unlike them, it, unfortunately, fails to satisfy the expectations in some spheres such as materials used for the cabin trim, engine power, and passengers’ comfort.
Exterior and Interior
Exterior design of the Hyundai Elantra is what distinguishes it from all other cars in the class the most and attracts new buyers. As if by magic, the car has preserved an up-to-date, fresh, and ahead-of-its-time appearance regardless of the fact that it’s been unchanged for more than five years already (apart from some inessential modifications). In fact, the Hyundai Elantra is the most venturesome creation by the manufacturer so far.
The car exploits Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design platform. The manufacturer’s aim is to create such design that would be as similar to what nature creates as possible, as true to life as possible, with flowing and dynamic lines that add grace and sophistication.
Exterior of the Hyundai Elantra shares many features with the Hyundai Sonata sedan. The manufacturer skillfully adjusted features of a larger Sonata to a smaller Elantra. As a matter of fact, the Hyundai Elantra is larger than other compact cars. As for space it offers inside, the car corresponds with mid-size class vehicles. Such a peculiarity makes it a good family car.
The cabin of the Hyundai Elantra isn’t less impressive than its exterior. It looks modern and stylish. What’s more important, it’s practical. In particular, unusual design of the dashboard, which houses a display that’s responsible for car’s most functions in the center, contributes to a driver and front-seat passenger’s comfort in terms of knee room. The center console offers a number of traditional controls and dials, which are logically arranged and intuitive to use.
The Hyundai Elantra is a vehicle where high-quality, soft-touch materials co-exist with cheap, hard plastic. The latter can be found on the controls and doors in particular. Although such a solution is acceptable for cars of this class, some of the Elantra’s rivals outperform it on that score.
At the front, the Hyundai Elantra doesn’t feel like a compact car at all. A driver and a passenger beside enjoy plenty of leg, knee, and head room there. It’s comfort of the front seats that raises questions. They aren’t supportive enough (and their cushions aren’t long enough) for easy and enjoyable long-distance journeys.
At the back, you start to realize that you’re travelling by a compact car actually. There’s restricted head room there although it’s quite adequate for the segment. Leg room for rear-seat passengers as well as access to the rear seats in the Hyundai Elantra is very good.
The rear seats are foldable meaning boot space sufficient enough as it is can be boosted if desired. You can transport bulky objects by the Hyundai Elantra. There are a lot of storage compartments across the cabin for keeping different knick-knacks that can come in handy on a journey. Beside a gear lever under the controls, there’s a covered cubby that contains a power outlet and USB/AUX ports.
Powertrain and Fuel Efficiency
It doesn’t take long to understand that driving performance isn’t a feature that makes the Hyundai Elantra special. It’s decent but predictable and ordinary. It cannot be compared to what you feel behind the steering wheel of some of its competitors. Still, the car is a good choice for driving in the city.
The Hyundai Elantra in the SE, Value Edition, and Limited specs comes standard with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine capable of producing 131 pound-feet of torque and 148 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
The Sport model is equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit (the same can be found in the Kia Forte). It makes 154 pound-feet of torque and 173 horsepower.
The Elantras that have a 1.8-litre engine under the bonnet paired with a manual gearbox return 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway (31 miles per gallon combined) while those with an automatic transmission are estimated at different fuel efficiency rates depending on the spec. For example, the top-of-the-range Limited model makes 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway (31 miles per gallon combined) while the Hyundai Elantra SE covers 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway (32 miles per gallon combined).
If you choose a model equipped with a 2.0-litre motor, be ready to spend more money on its maintenance because it’s the least fuel-efficient of all. In combination with a manual gearbox, the EPA estimated it at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway (28 miles per gallon combined). If an auto transmission comes with it, the figures are slightly different: 24 miles per gallon city and 35 miles per gallon highway (28 miles per gallon combined).
Note that both manual and automatic models use an ECO shift light and Active ECO mode respectively, special technologies aimed for improving fuel efficiency. They say engines with such modes perform up to seven per cent better in terms of fuel economy.
In the case with the Hyundai Elantra, a long list of standard equipment compensates for not so powerful drivetrains. For many people, this list is quite enough, so that they see no reason to spend extra money on options.
If you purchase the Hyundai Elantra SE model, you’ll get power mirrors, doors, and windows; keyless entry; telescoping steering wheel; A/C; cruise control; USB and Bluetooth connectivity; and AM/FM/CD player.
A new trim that has been recently introduced is the Value Edition. It shares with the Sport spec 16-inch alloys, side-view mirrors with incorporated turn signals, power sunroof, and remote key with push-button ignition. Inside, you’ll find a tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome and aluminum inserts, shift knob covered with leather, and heated seats at the front.
The range-topping Hyundai Elantra Limited runs on 17-inch wheels and adds fog lamps, satellite navigation, updated sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated leather-wrapped seats front and back.
The NHTSA awarded the Hyundai Elantra five out of five stars overall (in particular, five stars for side impact protection and four stars for rollover resistance and front impact protection).
The car received top ‘Good’ grades in all the kinds of crash tests from the IIHS except for a small-overlap test, for which it got ‘Acceptable’ rating.
The Hyundai Elantra is equipped with front- and side impact airbags for a driver and a passenger beside and side curtain airbags for rear passenger protection. Also, it comes with ABS with stability control and brake assist, rear-view camera, and forward-collision alert and steering effort assist systems.
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