|Positives: Upscale exterior design, great ergonomics, robust standard and optional features.|
|Negatives: Numb and artificially heavy steering, fussy transmission, cramped back seat.|
|Bottom Line: The Elantra is better than it's ever been thanks to a more sophisticated design|
The current Elantra is smooth and quiet, but it's no sports sedan. Only the Elantra Sport comes close to being truly fun to drive. Most buyers won't feel the desire to extract performance from the Elantra, regardless of engine choice.
Ride Quality: Smooth and composed over uneven pavement and gaps. It's a very comfortable ride.
Acceleration: The 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine in our tester was hampered by a transmission that gear-hunted all too often.
Braking: Strong brakes with a progressive pedal make for sure stopping with no grabbiness.
Steering: Steering feels artificially heavy in the turns and there's not much in the way of feedback.
Handling: Though there's some body roll and mild understeer, it's all pretty predictable. The Honda Civic sedan and the Mazda3 fare much better in this department.
As you probably already know, we love Hyundai's infotainment system and in-car technology. In Limited trim's Ultimate package, everything gets nicely upgraded. It's all very easy to use and easy on the eyes, as well.
Infotainment System: Our Limited trim tester got the upgraded 8-inch touchscreen and a Navigation system. The screen is responsive, easy to read, and straightforward in its operation.
Controls: The buttons and knobs are some of the best in the business at this price. The clean, easy to read row of audio and nav buttons are well-placed, and the audio knobs are sized just right. The steering wheel controls are also excellent and easy to use while driving.
The Honda Civic is cool but a bit juvenile, and the Ford Focus sedan is seriously dated. Only the Mazda3 comes close to the level of refined design as the Elantra.
Front: The low fascia looks great with the wide grille and L-shaped LED driving lights.
Rear: The taillights were so good, Hyundai used them on the refreshed Sonata. The triple-cell housing is refined and attractive.
Profile: This is one well-proportioned small sedan with the right-sized overhangs and great lines. Chrome is used conservatively along the base of the side windows, and the 5-pointn double spoke wheels are a great match.
Cabin: With the exception of some cheap gray plastic elements, the overall look and feel are very good. It's all well-styled and well laid out. The center stack and center console are very nicely integrated.
Though there's a bit of a tight back seat, the overall comfort levels are very good in the Elantra. Hyundai gave the front seats plenty of thought, and the feel of the cabin makes sitting for long periods easier than pricier cars.
Front Seats: Good adjustability and lumbar, along with solid support and decent bolstering make for very good front seats. The perforated leather looks nice, as well.
Rear Seats: Room is adequate for adults but a bit on the tight side for three. The two outboard seats are comfortable.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin is quiet at highway speeds with only a small amount of road noise. When the engine is pushed hard, like most other small sedans, you can hear the whine.
Visibility: Seeing out the front is a breeze thanks to the low hoodline, and the side windows are plenty big. It's the somewhat high rear decklid that makes it tough without the rear camera.
Climate: Our tester was upgraded with heated front and rear seats, which both work very well. The dual-zone climate control system also fires up quickly and effectively.
Safety is an area where the Elantra shines. It pretty much nails the crash tests with top marks from the IIHS and very good scores from the NHTSA and also provide a good set of accident avoidance technology (only in top trim models, though).
IIHS Rating: It gets the top score with a Top Safety Pick+ rating, attaining "good" in all crash tests except for an "acceptable" in the passenger side small front overlap crash and "superior" in front crash prevention when outfitted accordingly.
NHTSA Rating: The Elantra gets a four star crash safety rating.
Standard Tech: ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution & Brake Assist, blind spot detection w/ rear cross traffic alert.
Optional Tech: Limited trim gets adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, and lane departure warning.
The Elantra is a practical vehicle when it comes to both small gear storage and trunk space. There's more than enough space to toss in the family gear, and it's got enough space for a loaded roadtrip for two.
Storage Space: The center armrest can hold a small tablet and other items that need to be placed out of sight, and the center stack cubby is deep with a nice retractable door.
Cargo Room: 14.4 cubic feet in the Elantra is a bit smaller than Honda Civic sedan (15.1) and bigger than the Corolla (13.0).
We didn't see great efficiency in the Elantra, which isn't a surprise from Hyundai since they tend to be low compared to their EPA estimates. The Mazda3 is more fun to drive and better with gas.
Observed: 23.9 mpg
Distance Driven: 107 miles
Driving Factors: We drove in Sport mode almost the entire time in a combination of suburban roads and highways.
Our upgraded Infinity system that came with the Ultimate package was quite good, but it lacked bass and fullness. It's a hefty price to pay ($4K), but the package does give you a lot. We're just not sure it's that much better than the 6-speaker stock system.