Just call the Hyundai Elantra the comeback kid. Introduced in the early '90s, the economy-priced sedan didn't exactly get off to a good start, earning a well-deserved reputation for overall shoddiness and unreliability. But two decades later, the Elantra is now a class leader buoyed by better reliability, agreeable performance, handsome styling and a long list of standard features. Take it for a spin and you'll likely be impressed with its smooth ride and responsive handling. Throw in a roomy cabin, solid build quality and a lengthy list of safety features, and the Elantra is a formidable competitor in its segment.
Shortcomings? Newer models have quieted the cabin some, but older Elantras let in enough road noise to remind you it's still a budget compact. It's also hard to find older Elantras equipped with ABS. But these blemishes fade into insignificance when you consider the great value a new or late-model Elantra represents. If you're looking for a small sedan that suits a tight budget, Hyundai's Elantra belongs on your short list of contenders.
Current Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra sedan (a coupe and Elantra GT four-door hatchback are also available and reviewed separately) is offered in two trim levels, GLS and Limited.
The GLS comes equipped with 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, heated mirrors, full power accessories and a six-speaker audio system with iPod/USB interface. Options include alloy wheels, foglights and heated front seats. The Limited upgrades to 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather upholstery and heated front and rear seats as standard equipment, with options including keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system, a rearview camera and a premium audio system.
Power for the Elantra comes from a 1.8-liter inline-4 rated at 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. GLS models offer a six-speed manual transmission standard, with a six-speed automatic as an option. The Limited includes the auto as standard equipment. Elantras sold in California or states with California emissions standards get a car that's SULEV/PZEV-certified, which lowers power output to 145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque.
Slide inside the Elantra and you'll find a cabin that transcends most others in it class. A stylized center stack and controls lend some flair to the cabin, and the materials, while not best-in-class, offer a rich look. Ample headroom and a smaller-diameter steering wheel contribute to the interior's spaciousness. The Hyundai Elantra also scores points with its high fuel economy and distinctive styling. If you're looking for a new small car, the latest Elantra is a great choice.
Read the most recent 2013 Hyundai Elantra review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Hyundai Elantra page.