What's New for 2013
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT is an all-new hatchback model based on the popular Elantra sedan. It effectively replaces the now-discontinued Elantra Touring wagon.
Within the small sedan segment, Hyundai's newest Elantra is one of the most popular choices, particularly if you want some visual pizzazz combined with the more typical strengths of fuel economy and practicality. Now Hyundai is adding versatility to the Elantra's suite of strengths by offering the 2013 Elantra GT.
Hyundai has offered hatchback versions of its Elantra before, and most recently it was offering the more wagonlike Elantra Touring. The new GT doesn't have as much cargo space as the old Touring that it's replacing, but it's still quite spacious at 51 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. That's more than what most rival hatchbacks offer. Even with the Elantra GT's rear seats upright, there's still a lot of space for stuff, and the large hatchback opening makes it all quite easy to access.
Mechanically, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT is quite similar to the Elantra sedan (and new-for-2013 Elantra Coupe). That means Hyundai's smooth and silent 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine sits under the hood, and you have a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The GT's suspension is similar as well, but Hyundai tweaked it to give the GT more nimble handling.
There are other differences as well. The Elantra GT comes with a new-for-Hyundai trick up its sleeve: driver-configurable settings for its electric-assist power steering. The GT is the only Elantra that gets this feature for now. It also gets a driver knee airbag and a different interior design with more sensibly located air vents.
As small hatchbacks go, most of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT's direct rivals play from essentially the same game plan. However, the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf might be better choices for those willing to pay a bit extra for added refinement and driving involvement. But given the Elantra GT's core strengths of practicality and value, we think it's still a top choice for a small hatchback.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT four-door hatchback comes in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, Hyundai's BlueLink emergency communications system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
There are two option packages for the 2013 Elantra GT. The first is the Style package that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, leather seating surfaces and a power driver seat. Buyers who first select the Style package also can choose the Tech package, which includes keyless ignition/entry, automatic headlights, a navigation system with a 7-inch LCD screen, a rearview camera and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Elantra GT comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. A Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle (PZEV)-rated version of the engine sold in low-emissions states makes 145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard; a six-speed automatic transmission is an option.
Either transmission has excellent fuel economy ratings: 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined for the automatic and 26/37/30 for the manual.
In Edmunds performance testing, an Elantra GT with the automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds -- a little slow for the class.
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT has standard antilock brakes and stability control. Also standard are front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag -- a first for the Elantra lineup. Also included is Hyundai BlueLink, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlock, stolen vehicle tracking and vehicle alarm notification.
In government crash testing, the Elantra GT earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with four stars being awarded for frontal impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Elantra GT stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, about average for the segment.
Interior Design and Special Features
Owning a hatchback is about making the most of its utility, and the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT boasts a very generous 51-cubic-foot cargo area. When folding the rear seats, the seat bottoms first flip upward against the back of the front seats and the rear seatbacks drop into the space normally occupied by the rear-seat bottoms. It all happens quickly and flawlessly, and results in a flat floor to ease loading of large or long items.
The rest of the 2013 Elantra GT's interior features the same decent materials and solid construction as the other Elantra models. The design is slightly different, but you can tell both the sedan and GT probably were spawned from the same pen. The control layout, while slightly different as well, is also similarly easy to figure out and use.
A good seating position is easy to find with the manual base seat, though the optional power driver seat obviously offers more minute adjustments. The Elantra GT's rear seats are as spacious as those in the Elantra sedan, while headroom doesn't seem as pinched. The Elantra GT has particularly generous amounts of rear-seat width and legroom.
A car fronting "GT" as part of its name often implies there is a sporty orientation, but that's really not the case for the 2013 Elantra GT. There is no extra engine performance or other performance-oriented equipment, although the GT does have sportier tuning than the Elantra sedan. The Elantra GT does have a unique driving-focused feature: a three-setting function (Normal, Sport and Comfort) for the electric-assist power steering that varies the amount of power assist for the steering. There is a noticeable amount of change in steering effort when going from Comfort to Sport, but overall it's hardly a game-changing feature.
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT accelerates adequately but not altogether energetically. With the automatic transmission, it can also be slow to respond when asked for downshifts. The automatic does offer a manual-shift mode, but it also seems sluggish and doesn't really do much to improve performance. As with other cars in the Elantra lineup, it's clear the GT's performance is oriented toward maximizing fuel economy, which should be ideal for most buyers.
On the positive side, the Elantra GT's ride is very good. The suspension is quiet and composed over broken pavement and when riding over large bumps and potholes. Most compact cars have busy suspensions with harsh reactions to typical road irregularities, but the Elantra GT rides and handles like a much larger, plusher car.