The Hyundai Elantra has been a good compact sedan for years, but it hasn’t gotten as much attention as the Honda Civic. Well Hyundai is definitely trying to grab your attention with the 2021 Elantra. It’s styling is bold and in your face, so much so that it won’t be hard to find it in a crowded parking lot.
The 2021 Elantra ditches the forgettable styling of the previous generation and in its place the exterior looks futuristic with its many creases, big grille, sleek roofline and sharp lines. The Elantra’s exterior now stands out, but it remains to be seen if it’s too polarizing for some shoppers. It’s definitely more aggressive than the Toyota Corolla or 2022 Civic.
Inside the interior styling isn’t as dramatic as the exterior. The overall layout is clean and simple with the center console slightly angled towards the driver. It also looks and feels modern thanks to its optional 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.2-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system’s graphics are clear and it’s easy to use. We also like that the 8-inch system comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s a disappointment that the larger unit still needs a wire to connect it. A wireless charging pad is also available and Android users can use the Hyundai Digital Key that lets drivers unlock and start the Elantra using their smartphone.
The interior feels spacious with 99.4 cubic feet of passenger space, which means the EPA classifies it as a midsize. There’s plenty of legroom and headroom for the front and rear passengers. We do wish there was a bit less hard plastic in the interior, but for the most part the materials inside are up to par with the the Elantra’s rivals.
On the safety front, the Elantra is packed with the latest driver assistance tech, like forward collision warning, a blind spot monitor, lane-keeping assist, and rear-cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection are available on the higher trim levels.
Under the hood, the 2021 Elantra is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, that’s mated to a CVT. Those specs may not sound that impressive, but around town the Elantra has more than enough power to get you moving down the road. But when you need to pick up speed fast, like merging onto a highway, it’s evident that the Elantra could use a bit more horses under the hood. The CVT isn’t bad, which is a good thing, since most of the time we hate them. It also has a manual mode, but it’s a bit too slow to react to your wishes.
The Elantra is rated at up to 33 mpg city, 43 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined. If you want something more efficient, there’s the Elantra hybrid, which gets up to 53 mpg city, 56 mpg highway and 54 mpg combined.
Just like the engine, around town the Elantra’s chassis is adequate. We wouldn’t call it sporty, since it’s not as composed as the Honda Civic or Mazda3. There’s a bit too much movement when you want to push it hard and the steering is devoid of any feedback. The Elantra, well at least every version besides the Elantra N, is geared more towards comfort than sport.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra starts at $20,645, including destination, which means that has a lower starting price than the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda3. It’s offered in SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels. The SEL trim level also gets two package options, the SEL Convenience Package ($995) and the SEL Premium Package ($3,050).
The 2021 Elantra definitely stands out in the compact segment with its aggressive styling, spacious interior and long list of features. We do wish it was a bit more engaging to drive, most buyers in this segment will be easily satisfied with the Elantra. For those that want a sportier option, you’ll just want to check out the awesome 286-hp Elantra N or the Elantra N Line with its 1.6-liter turbo.