The compact segment continues to be dominated by the Civic and Corolla, something that hasn't changed in years. But who says that the top sellers are always the best in the segment? I mean, the Camry has been the best-selling sedan for years, but how many times has it been at the top of a comparison test? Enter the Hyundai Elantra. Just like the Mazda3, the Elantra sits quietly on the side lines grabbing sales from anti-Civic and anti-Corolla buyers, but you're asking yourself, should I really add the Elantra to my test-drive list? Yes!
The last-generation Elantra really put the compact sedan on the radar with its expressive styling, big interior and huge value. The all-new Elantra ups the ante even further. I'd already seen the new Elantra several times, ranging from its debut on the auto show circuit to seeing it on the road here in LA, so when I got the keys to it, I already knew I liked it on paper. Just to sum it up, it looks like a mini-Genesis G80, has a spacious interior and it's a great value, but when I got inside and drove the first mile, I was surprised.
It didn't take longer than five minutes for me to stamp my approval rating on the new Elantra. It's driving position is great, it feels lighter on its feet than the last generation and the ergonomics are great. It's almost the perfect compact sedan. Everything is placed where you want it, it's spacious, fuel efficient and even a little fun to drive.
Ok. At this point it sounds like I basically work for Hyundai. Was there anything that I didn't like about the 2017 Elantra? Well for starters, the new Elantra looks a bit more grownup and refined than the last generation, but at the same time, it's lost some of the distinctiveness that made the last generation so great. Inside the interior's ergonomics are great, but there are some hard plastic parts, the leather seats don't feel very luxurious and the HVAC controls look a bit dated. On the acceleration front, Hyundai didn't do any significant upgrades under the hood, which is a disappointment, since acceleration numbers are about average.
Under the hood, the Elantra now offers three powertrains: the standard 147-hp 2.0L, an efficient 128-hp turbocharged 1.4L and the sporty 201-hp turbocharged 1.6L. The naturally-aspirated 2.0L can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The turbocharged engines get a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and the 2.0L is also available with a six-speed manual. If you choose the 2.0L, the most efficient version, which is the automatic SE, is rated at 29/38 mpg. The Elantra Eco with its 1.4L engine is rated at 32/40 mpg and the 2.0L Elantra Sport with the dual-clutch transmission gets up to 26/33 mpg.
Compared to heavy hitters, like the Civic and Corolla, the new Elantra is a highly competitive alternative. It's packed with features and is far more enjoyable to drive than the Corolla.
Pricing for the 2017 Elantra starts at $17,150.
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