Test Drive: Elantra redesign, a bit more spirited

auto-hyundaiElantra INT 8-11Redesigned for 2017, the venerable Hyundai Elantra – a model that dates back a quarter century – sustains and even exceeds its Korean maker’s tradition of overachievement. With a bold hexagonal grille and aggressive styling, our Elantra Limited test car looked the part of an upscale compact sedan and matched it with exceptional performance.

Of course, its upscale look and feel came at an unexpectedly high price of $27,710. But you still can land a well-equipped Elantra for as little as $17,150, or maybe less. According to a July 8 Money magazine report, the Elantra and other economical sedans aren’t selling as well as usual this year as gasoline prices remain low, and may be available at deep discounts.

Assembled in Montgomery, Ala., the Elantra, a compact four-door sedan, is known for its good fuel economy and quiet, comfortable ride. It’s rated at 28 mpg city, 37 highway, and the test car exceeded those benchmarks. High power and crisp handling never have been priorities for Hyundai or drivers who gravitated to the Elantra. The new model adds a bit more spirit in the corners and a long, long list of standard and optional features.

Our lavishly equipped test car made a statement about Hyundai’s willingness to give the buyer everything he might want. Features like smart cruise control, navigation system, heated front and rear seats, and blind-spot detection often are unavailable in models occupying the lower tiers of an automaker’s fleet. You can order an Elantra with all of these features, and more. Indeed, the blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert system is standard on the Elantra Limited.

The Limited has a base price of $22,350. Bumping up our test car’s price were a Tech Package ($2,500) and Ultimate Package ($1,900). The former package added navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, premium audio system, power sunroof, heated front and rear seats, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink and compass. The Ultimate Package mainly focused on safety: automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, Lane Keep Assist system, and integrated memory system for the driver’s seat and exterior mirrors. This Elantra is a Hyundai with the soul of a Volvo.

The Elantra even had a feature we’d never heard of – Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology. A Harman product that improves audio quality from compressed, digitized music sources, it’s part of the Tech Package.

Also long is the list of standard features on all Elantra Limited models. Among them: satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, power driver’s seat, leather upholstery, keyless push-button start and hands-free smart trunk.

Most Elantras come with the 147-horsepower, normally aspirated 2-liter inline Four and six-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The driver can choose among economy, normal and sport modes, depending on whether the goal is maximum fuel economy or more spirited performance.

Crash-test data on the 2017 Elantra are not yet available. The 2016 model was rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Price: $27,710

Engine: 2-liter inline Four, 147 horsepower, 132 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: Front-wheel

Weight: 2,811 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, coupled torsion beam axle rear

Wheels: 17-in. alloy

Tires: 225/45R17 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 14.4 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 14 gal.

Fuel economy: 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded gasoline