Full 2007 Hyundai Elantra Review
What's New for 2007
The 2007 Hyundai Elantra sedan is completely redesigned. Horsepower hasn't increased, but interior room and fuel economy have improved significantly. The five-door hatchback is out of the lineup for now but will return later in the model cycle.
Most people know Hyundai builds inexpensive cars backed by long warranties, but the 2001-'06 Hyundai Elantra also put the brand on largely equal footing with the mainstream import brands in the economy car segment. Apart from a few odd styling details, it was a likable, well-built budget compact with a smooth ride, decent handling dynamics and a roomy interior. When it was time for a redesign, Hyundai sought to retain its price advantage while freshening up the Elantra's somewhat stodgy image. As a result, the all-new 2007 Hyundai Elantra sedan comes to market with crisp styling and surprisingly tight handling. In addition, it's roomier and more fuel-efficient than before and comes with all of the features most buyers are looking for, including ABS, side airbags and an MP3 player jack.
Although the redesigned Hyundai Elantra still shares its drivetrain components and some interior bits with the Kia Spectra, it rides on an all-new platform. Thanks to a 1.5-inch-longer wheelbase, a 2-inch wider track and a 2-inch height increase, the 2007 Elantra sedan has a significantly larger interior volume than before and now meets the midsize car size classification (although it still looks and drives like a compact car). It leads the class in front legroom and ranks near the top for all other interior measurements.
The Elantra's backseat is particularly impressive, as its high-mounted bench and generous foot room make it an easy fit for adults. Despite its growth spurt, the '07 Elantra actually weighs less than before and thus still feels adequately powered, even though it continues to use last year's 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine. With a manual transmission, Hyundai's economy car feels downright sprightly. Even more impressive is its smooth, stable demeanor at high speeds, an attribute that makes it feel like a more upscale car than before. Further aiding this impression is the Elantra's attractively styled interior and blue nighttime illumination. Closer examination reveals a few more low-grade plastics than we'd like, but everything is put together with care.
Overall, the 2007 Hyundai Elantra sedan offers a highly competitive package that shouldn't be overlooked, even by compact-car buyers with greater spending power. Still, if you're shopping in this segment, you should also look at the Honda Civic, which offers higher-quality interior furnishings, a smoother engine and higher fuel economy ratings. Another to consider is the Mazda 3, which delivers a much sportier driving experience and a higher level of overall refinement. For most economy car buyers, though, the well-rounded Hyundai Elantra should be a good match. As in the past, its reasonable price tag and long warranty certainly won't hurt.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A compact economy sedan, the 2007 Hyundai Elantra comes in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels. Aimed at dealer advertising fodder, the base GLS is sparsely equipped: It wears 15-inch steel wheels and has power windows, mirrors and locks, but offers neither air-conditioning nor a stereo as standard, which must be added via a preferred equipment package. In contrast, the midrange Elantra SE is nicely equipped, as it includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel (with audio controls), and cruise control. Later in the model year, SEs will also have satellite radio as standard. Step up to the Elantra Limited and you'll get leather upholstery and heated front seats. A sunroof is a package option on all Elantras. On the SE, it's bundled with heated seats, while on the Limited, it must be purchased in conjunction with an upgraded 220-watt audio system with an MP3-compatible in-dash CD changer.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on all Elantra sedans is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine capable of 138 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. All trim levels can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front wheels. Note that automatic-equipped Elantras sold in California and the Northeastern states carry SULEV/PZEV certification and are rated for just 132 hp. Fuel economy ratings are 28 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, regardless of transmission choice.
Every '07 Elantra comes with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2007 Hyundai Elantra has a more cohesive and upscale look than any previous model. Ergonomics are excellent, and everything lights up in the same shade of blue at night, including the MP3 player jack and the window buttons on all four doors. Not only will occupants be able to find what they need, day or night; they'll be quite comfortable in the process, as the Elantra offers abundant head-, shoulder-, hip- and legroom in both the front and rear. Storage spaces are numerous as well, and the trunk offers a generous 14-cubic-foot capacity. Our only complaint in the cabin involves the easily scratched, low-buck plastic used on parts of the dash. Build quality is tight inside and out.
Thanks to a modest weight loss in the redesign, the Elantra is fairly quick out of the gates, especially when equipped with a manual gearbox. Clutch modulation is a little tricky on these cars, but we've timed a manual-shift SE model at 8.4 seconds for the 0-60-mph run. The only major knock against the 2.0-liter engine is its noisy, somewhat coarse demeanor above 3,500 rpm. Ride quality is excellent, and the '07 Elantra has a smooth yet stable feel at high speeds that previous models lacked. Wind and road noise are minimal. Although its personality isn't overtly sporting, the new Elantra is a highly capable handler, should you choose to explore the limits. Body roll is moderate, but the Elantra holds tight through the turns, offering plenty of grip. Steering response and feedback are impressive as well, especially considering that Hyundai's economy car now uses electric power assist.