2008 Hyundai Elantra Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth and secure ride, attractive cabin design, roomy interior with adult-friendly backseat, solid construction, responsive handling, low price, long warranty.
  • Unrefined engine is noisy at mid-to-high rpm, likable interior is otherwise let down by a few low-grade interior plastics.
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Edmunds' Expert Review

A roomy and well-built economy car with surprisingly sharp reflexes, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra is a must-drive if you're shopping for a compact sedan.

Vehicle overview

Every once in a while, a car will really surprise you -- the 2008 Hyundai Elantra is one of those cars. Past Elantras offered a long warranty and a low price, but couldn't really compete with all-star compact sedans like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla. Now in its second year since a full redesign, the Elantra is the real deal, capable of standing toe-to-toe with the big boys. Plus, it still has that long warranty and low price.

Larger than the car it replaced, the supposedly compact Elantra is now considered a midsize sedan by the EPA. (Mind you, the EPA also classifies the Dodge Magnum as an SUV, so take it with a grain of salt.) Still, the Elantra is more spacious overall than its economy car rivals, and Hyundai is quick to point out that it boasts more interior volume than an Acura TL. The backseat is particularly impressive, as its high-mounted bench and generous foot room make it an easy fit for full-size adults.

The Elantra's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is an old design and isn't as refined as those found in its Japanese competitors, but it's surprisingly responsive and returns pretty good fuel economy. It also runs clean, as it's classified as an Ultra-Low-Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) in most of the country, and a Partial-Zero-Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) in California, Oregon and the Northeast.

Once underway, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra continues to impress, with decent steering and handling responses, as well as a smooth ride and a stable demeanor at high speeds. It often feels like a more upscale car than it really is, an impression furthered by the handsome, well-constructed interior. Top-quality plastics and other materials are utilized throughout; however, they are betrayed by some cheap plastics here and there, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel (on the SE trim) prone to making your hands feel a bit clammy.

As always, there are a multitude of choices in the small economy car segment. Although top-ranked sedans like the Civic may be better known, the 2008 Elantra manages to keep up with them, matching or besting each in a number of different ways. In particular, it's hard to beat the Elantra's level of features, space and quality construction at such a low price. Of course, taking a test-drive of all these choices is recommended, but when it comes time to stop by the Hyundai store, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

2008 Hyundai Elantra models

The 2008 Hyundai Elantra is a small sedan available in GLS and SE trim levels. The base GLS is sparsely equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tilt steering wheel and full power accessories. The GLS Popular Equipment Package adds air-conditioning, foglights, cruise control, vanity mirrors and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. The SE includes this equipment, but adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer and a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls. This year's new SE Premium Package outfits the Elantra with heated seats and a sunroof. (The latter is a stand-alone option on the GLS.) Leather upholstery can also be added to this package.

2008 Highlights

Last year's top-of-the-line Limited trim level has been dropped, but much of its equipment can still be had via an optional package for the midgrade Elantra SE trim. Stability control and brake assist have also been added as standard equipment to the SE.

Performance & mpg

The Elantra is front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 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. In California-emissions states, automatic-equipped Elantras are certified as Partial-Zero-Emissions Vehicles (PZEV) and are rated for 132 hp. Fuel economy for 2008 is a very respectable 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway regardless of transmission or which state it is sold in.The Elantra is front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 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. In California-emissions states, automatic-equipped Elantras are certified as Partial-Zero-Emissions Vehicles (PZEV) and are rated for 132 hp. Fuel economy for 2008 is a very respectable 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway regardless of transmission or which state it is sold in.


All Elantras come standard with antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints. The SE trim level adds standard stability control and brake assist for the ABS. In crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra earned a top five-star rating in frontal-impact collision protection and a four-star rating for side collisions. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal offset testing, the Elantra received a rating of "Good," the agency's top score.


Considering its so-so 138 horses, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra is decently quick out of the gates (zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds), especially when equipped with a manual gearbox. The engine suffers from a somewhat coarse demeanor above 3,500 rpm, however. More refined is the ride quality, which is smooth yet stable, even at high speeds, and is one of the Elantra's best attributes. Wind and road noise are also negligible. Although its personality isn't overtly sporting, the Elantra is actually a capable handler. Body roll is moderate, but this Hyundai manages to hold tight through turns, offering plenty of grip and decent steering response.


The Elantra's interior quality is quite literally hit or miss. For instance, the dash-top grain and cool blue lighting looks like it could have been removed from an Acura. However, there are a few pieces here and there that wouldn't cut it in a Honda Civic. Still, the overall design is attractive and pleasing, looking as if it belongs in a much more expensive car. Your carpool buddies should be impressed. They'll also appreciate the Elantra's generous amount of space provided by the generous head-, shoulder, hip- and legroom found in both the front and rear seats. Storage is also plentiful, with plenty of cubbies and a 14-cubic-foot trunk.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Hyundai Elantra.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good Car
I purchased my 2008 Elantra GLS new. It now has over 62,000 miles on it. It has been a very good car for the money. I love mine. I plan on giving it to my grandson in a few years when he starts driving. Then I will buy a new one. But first the few cons: I would like just a bit better fuel economy. And the 30,000 and 60,000 mile service costs seemed to me a bit on the high side. I wish the trunk lid would pop just a little so that I could nudge it up with my hip when my hands are full. As it is, it is necessary for me to empty at least one arm to get the lid up. I can’t think of any more cons. -- I have not found engine noise on aggressive accelerations anything to complain about—it is there, but it’s not a big deal to me. I seldom accelerate hard. Now this is what I like most: The car has great road manners. It feels tight and solid even after 60,000 miles. Road noise is not excessive. The steering is perfect. The breaks are sure and smooth. Acceleration is good. Instruments are easy to read. Controls are easy to reach. In the cold the car heats up and clears the windshield quickly—unlike so many cars, it is the driver’s side that clears the fastest. A few other points: I have been driving cars for over 50 years and always apply good driving techniques: The original tires lasted 50,000 miles. The original breaks lasted 45,000 miles. I get the oil and filter changed every 3000 miles. I religiously follow the maintenance schedule to the letter. I have my tires rotated and balanced ever 5000 miles: I have never experienced a mechanical breakdown or anything in need of urgent car with this car. Of the many cars I have owned, this is the first one I can say this about.
Excellent workhorse for the price
SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)
I've had this car since 2008, and have put it to the test. It has 112,000 miles on it, including a 6-day drive from the east coast to the west coast, back to Denver, and back to the west coast. Never driven a car that is this reliable. It's not fast, it's not flashy, but it goes and keeps going. It has literally never left me on the side of the road except once, for a punctured tire. Practical, perfect for a young person, perfect for a small family. It's likable, it has character, and it's surprisingly comfortable and sharp.
Pleasantly Satisfying Period of Ownership
GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)
I bought this car in April 2008, as my everyday car for school and life. I compared it to the 2008 Honda Civic LX that my cousin had as well as a 2008 Toyota Corolla S that another friend had and for the value and amenities offered on this car, it was excellent. I remember Hyundai changing their whole line of cars in 2007 to rebuild their brand and reputation, so I knew I was diving into uncharted territory going with the Hyundai over the Honda and Toyota, but for 15K out the door (for the automatic) compared to around 18K for the Civic and around 17K for the Corolla during that time and what they had to offer, I could not resist the deal. Another friend of mine went all in with the Elantra in 2007 as well, and he had done a lot of research and ended up purchasing a manual one before me, so after seeing him with his car for a year, that also lead to my reasoning that the car would be a good buy. I finally ended up selling the car to another cousin a few weeks ago and upgraded to something else, but I still miss it, although it may just be fresh in my mind given that I'm still getting used to my new car. The little things mattered to me with this car, such as having 4 wheel ABS compared to the 2 rear drum sets offered in the Honda and Toyota. Fog lights were nice to have since I had always wanted a car with fog lights. Having the overhead glasses compartment, top middle compartment, under radio compartment, 2 tier center compartment, and also the two storage spaces behind the front seats was also very nice. The only thing about the car that I didn't like was that it looked a little boring, or "rental" car-ish, but I was able to fix that after I finally upgraded to the 2011-2012 Elantra 16" alloy rims, giving it the look that the SE had. The interior is very roomy, with good visibility, and I'm a big 6'1' guy. The front seats were very comfortable, compared to when I sat in the Civic and Corolla which were tight for me. Headroom is very good, although I do wish the driver's side had the handle to hold onto which is nice when you want to switch it up driving long distances. My passengers never complained, since the shortest person usually sat behind my seat which I had to push all the way back, but it seemed like everyone was fine most of the time. Another great feature that a lot of base model or step up from base model Japanese cars don't have is heated mirrors, which are very useful in the winter (even here in So Cal), and I took them for granted when I was looking for my new car, which I had to get a higher up model to get. Whenever I drove a lot of freeway, I would end up getting around 31-34 MPG depending on how fast I would accelerate, how much force I applied when braking, and how fast I would be going on the freeway. Combined, especially in the later years, the worse I ever got was 27 MPG, but when I drove gently I would get around 28-29 MPG. In the early years I was running on the stock 15" steel wheels and afterwards I was running on the 16" alloys, so those might have affected the fuel economy a little bit. I broke in the car very well when it was new, not pushing it during the recommended period, and had always changed oil myself with full synthetic 5W-20, usually Mobil 1, and in the end, I left the car off at 111K miles, with no issues whatsoever. I just performed the recommended maintenance at my favorite mechanic every time I hit the mileage listed in the Maintenance Book, and overall, the car had been very very reliable. Surprisingly, the trunk is also very large, compared to the same Civic and Corolla as well. I had been able to help friends move with the car, filling everything to the brim. My GLS model came with the auxiliary port, but I ended up using the MP3 CD a lot more due to consistency and quality issues. The 6 speaker system is phenomenal for a cheap car, better than the 2013 Accord LX's system that my family has. I'm no audiophile but I do enjoy my music and all the ranges my songs have to offer, and that is probably what I miss most from that system. Bass was deep and did not sound cheap, but vocals and everything were very clear as well! My friend put a sub-woofer in his, but honestly it was overkill since the stock system is already phenomenal. I have not been in another base model car that has an audio system that is as good as this one. Also, the car is hard to steal (unless there's some kind of new tech that thieves have access to). My friend locked my keys in my trunk once and you cannot put the seats down from the inside of the car. AAA came, unlocked the car, but the standard immobilizer didn't allow us to start the car and the alarm kept going off, so the only way was to get the other spare key/remote I had (Hyundai only gives 2 keys). Overall, the only con is the cheap plastic door panels, but I felt all other pieces in the car were pretty good quality.
Great Car
I bought my Elantra with 82,000 miles on it. It is still very solid, no rattles and drives great. And, the gas mileage! Oh so sweet! You could not ask for a better car!

Features & Specs

25 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
25 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
24 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
25 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Hyundai Elantra
Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra Overview

The Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra is offered in the following submodels: Elantra Sedan. Available styles include GLS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), GLS PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), GLS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), SE PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), and SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra SE is priced between $3,995 and$3,995 with odometer readings between 82692 and82692 miles.

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Which used 2008 Hyundai Elantras are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Hyundai Elantra for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Elantras listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,995 and mileage as low as 82692 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Hyundai Elantra.

Can't find a used 2008 Hyundai Elantras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Elantra for sale - 3 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $16,648.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 7 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $18,613.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Elantra for sale - 4 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $19,403.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 10 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $7,488.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Hyundai Elantra?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Hyundai lease specials
Check out Hyundai Elantra lease specials