Full 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring is an all-new hatchback variant of the similarly named compact sedan.
As the amount of cargo capacity goes up, so does fuel consumption. That's not a hard-and-fast rule, but basic physics would certainly indicate that the bigger something is, the more energy is required to move it. Yet the 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring does its best to tiptoe around basic physics. This compact (in name only) hatchback manages to achieve 26 mpg combined while boasting as much cargo space as Hyundai's own Tucson compact SUV. Plus, it is based on the Elantra sedan, one of the best choices in the compact class.
Because the Touring is actually the European version of the Elantra, there are quite a few differences between hatchback and sedan. The most obvious difference is the extended roofline and high-mounted taillights that create a look somewhere in between hatchback and wagon. The front-end styling is completely different, ditching the sedan's chubby baby look in favor of a more athletic, European face. Under the skin, the Touring has a slightly longer wheelbase as well as stiffer springs, bigger stabilizer bars and enhanced steering for a sportier driving experience. The cabin also features a slightly different design, but unfortunately, it lacks the same sort of high-quality materials as the sedan.
Carrying stuff is the Touring's forte, however, featuring a roomy backseat and class-leading cargo volume with the backseat raised and lowered. As such, if versatility and utility are priorities, the 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring is the top choice among the small number of other hatchbacks. If you don't need that much space, though, the Mazda 3 hatch offers more driving fun, while the Volkswagen Rabbit has a more premium cabin and distinct European feel. However, the Elantra's ample features list, low price, long warranty and pleasant driving demeanor should earn it a spot on your must-drive list. Plus, it does a good job tiptoeing around those pesky physics.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring is a four-door hatchback available in one trim. Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, air-conditioning, full power accessories, heated mirrors, cruise control, a tilt and telescoping steering column, an eight-way manual driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB/iPod audio interface and satellite radio. The Premium Sport package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof and heated front seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Elantra Touring is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 137 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy with the automatic is an estimated 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. The manual gets you 1 mpg extra on the highway.
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring comes fully stocked with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front seat active head restraints. In government crash testing, the Elantra Touring received a perfect five stars (out of five) for its performance in a frontal collision and four stars in a side collision.
Interior Design and Special Features
Despite sharing much with the Elantra sedan, the Touring hatchback actually features a slightly different interior design. Although the controls remain intuitive and well-placed, overall materials quality is not as good, with cheaper plastics throughout. However, the Touring does share the sedan's ample passenger space. Rear-seat passengers will find a surprising amount of head-, shoulder-, hip- and legroom available in back, while the front seat is very roomy for taller drivers.
As a hatchback, the Elantra Touring provides a staggering amount of space. According to Hyundai, it can hold a maximum of 65 cubic feet of space, which is twice that of a Mazda 3 and a few cubes more than many compact SUVs.
The 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring only has 138 horses, but they're a hard-working herd capable of getting this spacious hatch up to speed surprisingly well. They're also rather noisy, however, particularly above 3,500 rpm. More refined is the ride quality, which is smooth and stable, even at highway speeds. Wind and road noise are also negligible, making the Elantra one of the better choices in its class if you do a lot of highway driving.
We've found the Elantra sedan to be a surprisingly capable handler. Despite some moderate body roll, it manages to hold tight through turns while offering plenty of grip and decent steering response. We've yet to experience the Elantra Touring's suspension and steering enhancements, but we expect they would improve on the sedan's driving responsiveness and fun.