Introduced in the early 1990s, the Hyundai Elantra didn't exactly get off to a good start, earning a well-deserved reputation for overall shoddiness and unreliability. But more than two decades later, the Elantra has become one of America's most popular small sedans. Take one for a spin and you'll likely be impressed with its smooth ride, roomy interior, high fuel economy and solid build quality. The Elantra also offers plenty of features for the money and long warranty coverage. While those long-ago Elantras are best forgotten, any new or used Elantra (that you'll realistically come across) is an excellent choice for a small car shopper.
Current Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra sedan is offered three trims: SE, Limited and Sport. A coupe and Elantra GT four-door hatchback are also available and reviewed separately.
Standard SE feature highlights include alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod interface. An option package provides 16-inch (versus 15-inch) wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, a rearview camera and heated front seats. The Limited comes with all that as well as 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated rear seats and Blue Link telematics. The Sport includes the Limited's features minus the heated rear seats and Blue Link and adds a more powerful engine, a sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension and keyless ignition and entry. The Limited can be had with a larger 7-inch touchscreen display, dual-zone automatic climate control and a navigation system.
The SE and Limited trims are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 145 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the SE, while a six-speed automatic is optional. The Limited comes only with the automatic. The Elantra Sport has a 2.0-liter four that makes 173 hp. With the Sport, the manual transmission is standard, while the automatic is optional.
Slide inside the Elantra and you'll find a cabin that matches or betters 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.
On the road, the 1.8-liter engine has decent punch and the automatic transmission provides smooth, well-timed shifts. This volume-selling powertrain should be fine for the majority of drivers. The added punch provided by the Sport's bigger engine should be appreciated by those willing to sacrifice a few mpg in favor of some added oomph. A compliant ride and a quiet cabin make the Elantra a comfortable choice for daily driver and road trip duty alike. The only significant downside to this Elantra is a lack of rear headroom compared to what's available from some other top small sedans.
Read the most recent 2016 Hyundai Elantra review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Hyundai Elantra page.