Compact sedans such as the 2017 Hyundai Elantra aren't built to attract attention. They're basic workhorses for commuting, errand running and general hauling. They're noble appliances built to expend themselves in serving the needs of people who work for a living and can't risk owning a car that doesn't start every morning. Give credit to the Elantra, then. It does everything it must do and looks good while doing it.
While the 2017 Elantra is newly refined, it's still a straightforward small, front-wheel-drive sedan. Generally, it carries over the design themes of its bigger brother, the Sonata. So the controls, including the touchscreen, are well positioned and operate intuitively, and everything in the car is designed logically. It's not any bigger than the Elantra that Hyundai introduced back in 2011, but it uses the space it has cleverly and efficiently. Don't let the swoopy roofline fool you: There's room for four in the Elantra. But it's pushing it to shove in five.
The SE and Limited versions of the Elantra are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 147 horsepower. The SE's standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but most buyers will go with the optional six-speed automatic. And the automatic is standard in the Limited. A new Eco model uses a dinky 1.4-liter four-cylinder blessed with a turbocharger rated at 128 horsepower that feeds a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission tuned for maximum fuel efficiency.
There's also a new Sport model that uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 201 horsepower that feeds a standard six-speed manual. It offers the Eco's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as an option. Sounds tasty.
The Eco, of course, gets the best mileage, with EPA ratings of 35 mpg combined (32 city/40 highway). The mainstream SE with the six-speed automatic knocks out 32 mpg combined (28 city/37 highway).
With only modest power aboard, the SE and Limited are hardly rocket ships. But Hyundai has tuned the suspension exceedingly well for everyday comfort. Driven within its limits, the Elantra is wholly satisfying, if not particularly entertaining.
Base SE models are, well, basic. There's no Bluetooth, no rearview camera and no redundant stereo controls on the steering wheel. The SE can, however, take a big leap forward in convenience and technology by adding in a Popular Equipment package of tech goodies that puts it on par with most mainstream competitors.
The Limited, on the other hand, can be equipped like a true luxury liner. Of course there's leather on the seats, but you also can get adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist (which keeps the car from wandering out of its lane) and xenon headlights that track with the front wheels as they turn.
Cars by Hyundai are first and foremost value propositions, backed by long warranties. That hasn't changed with the 2017 Elantra. Let Edmunds help you find the one that's right for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.