2018 Hyundai Elantra

2018 Hyundai Elantra Review

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra offers upscale features at an agreeable price.
3.5 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Last year's full redesign gave the Hyundai Elantra a new look, a more refined interior and an improved ride quality. The changes have made the Elantra downright pleasant to live with, and all but the base trim come with extensive technology upgrades. Take a look at the aptly named Value Edition trim level, for instance. For a reasonable price it comes with all sorts of desirable features, such as a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a sunroof, heated seats, and keyless entry and ignition.

If the Elantra has a downside, it's performance. The 2.0-liter engine that most Elantras come with isn't as powerful as those in some other top small sedans. Hyundai does offer two optional turbocharged engines, which might have added appeal, but the dual-clutch automatic transmission that they come with doesn't have the smoothest-shifting characteristics.

During your search, there are some other top sedans to take a look at. The Honda Civic is unquestionably the benchmark for the class given its mix of power, features and wide range of available trim levels. We also like the Mazda 3 and the Volkswagen Golf hatchback for their engaging driving experiences and upscale interiors. Overall, though, the Elantra has a lot to offer, and it is particularly worth checking out if you're looking for a comfortable sedan that has a lot of features for an agreeable price.



What's new for 2018

Following last year's complete redesign, Hyundai has made only minor trim level changes to the Elantra. Notably, the SE with Popular Equipment package has been replaced with the SEL trim.

We recommend

Hyundai's changes to the Elantra's trim levels for 2018 mean that the SEL gives you everything you really need. From safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to technology features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, niceties such as push-button start and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to necessities such as sun-visor extensions, the Elantra SEL is a compelling package for the price



Trim levels & features

There are six trim levels for the 2018 Hyundai Elantra, with three engines and three transmissions shared among them. The base SE has a pretty limited equipment list, but moving up to the SEL, the Value Edition and finally the Limited nets quite a few improvements. The Eco offers a more fuel-efficient engine with midlevel equipment, and the Sport comes with a strong turbocharged engine.

The base engine, and the only option for the SE, SEL, Value Edition and Limited trims, is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (147 horsepower, 132 pound-feet of torque). The SE trim comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission but can be upgraded to a six-speed automatic. The other four trims all use the automatic transmission.

The SE trim is somewhat minimally equipped, with 15-inch steel wheels, front disc and rear drum brakes, power mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, air-conditioning, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and a six-speaker sound system with a 3.5-inch display and a USB port. Adding the optional automatic transmission also adds cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

Stepping up to the SEL trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a rearview camera, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and rear seat cupholders. Rounding out the SEL's upgrades are keyless entry with push-button start, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth audio streaming, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, satellite radio and — a special treasure for those who live in sunny climates — sun visor extensions.

From there, the Value Edition adds a sunroof, LED daytime running lights, door-handle approach lights, and hands-free trunk release. Inside, the Value Edition gets heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

As its name suggests, the Eco gets a more fuel-efficient engine: a turbocharged 1.4-liter four cylinder (128 hp, 156 lb-ft of torque) paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. It's equipped similarly to the Value Edition, but it doesn't get the sunroof or the auto-dimming rearview mirror and rolls on 15-inch alloy wheels.

Compared to the Value Edition, the Elantra Limited moves up to 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights and unique appearance tweaks. It gets a power driver seat and leather upholstery, but it keeps the sunroof for its solitary option package. It also comes with three USB ports and Hyundai's Blue Link system. Blue Link connects your car to an app that allows you to control some basic functions such as locking and unlocking, receive diagnostic information, and search for destinations with Google.

Only one option package is available for the Limited trim, the Limited Ultimate package. This package ups the infotainment screen to 8 inches and adds navigation and a premium eight-speaker stereo system. You also get the sunroof, driver-seat memory settings, heated rear seats, a larger gauge cluster information screen, the sunroof, and a full set of active driver aids: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The 2018 Elantra Sport, whether you get it with an automatic or manual, is equipped largely like the Limited. (It loses the dual-zone automatic climate control but it comes with the sunroof.) There also also quite a few sport-oriented changes, including a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, with either the six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic), a more sophisticated rear suspension with firmer tuning, 18-inch alloy wheels with grippier tires, stronger brakes, an appearance package and xenon headlights. Inside, the sporty theme continues with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, special gauge cluster and leather-upholstered, heated front sport seats.

One package is available for the Sport trim: the Sport Premium package. It includes the 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, 8-speaker premium sound system, Blue Link telematics, dual-zone climate control and auto-dimming rearview mirror.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Hyundai Elantra Limited (2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5

Driving

3.0 / 5

Acceleration2.0 / 5
Braking3.5 / 5
Steering4.0 / 5
Handling3.0 / 5
Drivability3.0 / 5

Utility

3.0 / 5

Small-item storage3.5 / 5
Cargo space4.0 / 5

Technology

3.5 / 5

Audio & navigation3.5 / 5
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5
Driver aids3.5 / 5
Voice control3.5 / 5

Driving3.0

Of the three engines available in the Elantra, the base 2.0-liter is our least favorite. Acceleration is leisurely and has unfortunate effects on other areas. We like the well-tuned steering and the brakes better.

Acceleration2.0

The Elantra's 2.0-liter is uninspiring, especially when cars such as the Mazda 3 and the Honda Civic exist. Accelerating to 60 mph takes a sluggish 9.7 seconds, a full second longer than the identically priced Elantra GT hatchback. It has one upside: It doesn't drone like the GT's more powerful engine.

Braking3.5

The brakes are easy to modulate, with no excess play or squishiness. They aren't performance-oriented brakes, but they feel nice and are predictable to use. In our panic-braking test, the Elantra needed 126 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is average for the class.

Steering4.0

As in other Hyundais, the Elantra's steering feels direct and builds effort naturally. It still lacks road feedback, but for the most part this is a well-tuned steering system. The Sport mode's increased steering effort feels appropriate.

Handling3.0

It's difficult to truly exploit this car's handling capabilities mainly due to its powertrain shortcomings and low-grip tires. The Elantra feels composed in most cases, with the potential to be playful if it had the proper tires for it.

Drivability3.0

At slow or highway cruising speeds, drivability is fine. But the lack of engine power often results in a downshift at the smallest request for more speed. Sport mode helps since it keeps the transmission a gear lower than normal, but it also makes the throttle too sensitive for casual use.

Comfort

The highlights include easy-to-use climate controls with great temperature regulation, a comfy ride and a quiet, rattle-free cabin. The seats are also more comfortable for longer drives than the ones found in the comparable Elantra GT hatchback model.

Seat comfort3.5

The seats are comfortable and offer a nice balance between soft and firm to help you out on longer rides. There's not a lot of lateral support, but it's enough for the Elantra's driving purposes. Lumbar support is adjustable but not repositionable. The armrest padding is sufficient even if the material isn't that nice.

Ride comfort4.5

The Elantra has a pretty nice ride for a compact car. Sharp impacts are softened to a pleasant degree without the suspension feeling overly mushy. It remains composed over bumpy sections of road. It's one of the most appealing aspects of the car.

Noise & vibration4.5

There's some mild wind and road noise at highway speeds, but overall the cabin is quieter than average among compact cars. At lower city speeds, road noise is particularly well-isolated, and there are no discernible interior rattles or creaks. It feels well put together in that regard.

Climate control4.0

Climate controls are straightforward, well-labeled and easy to operate. There's nothing fancy about the design, but we appreciate the simplicity and clarity. Auto temperature settings work great. There are no ventilated seats, but the front seats offer three-level heating and the rear seats two-level heating.

Interior

Hyundai's cabin controls are always easy to figure out and use. There's nothing sleek or fancy about them, but we can't fault the functionality. Taller folks may find the door openings too short and little headroom in the front.

Ease of use4.0

The Elantra has the standard Hyundai button layout. It's not fancy, but all the usual assortment of controls are clearly marked and easy to figure out. There are quick access buttons for most of the driver assist functions, and the menus are easy to navigate and find what you're looking for. Nicely done.

Getting in/getting out3.0

The doors swing open pretty wide, but the height of the apertures are a little short and may feel small for taller adults, both in front and in back. The step-over height is nice and low with an easy sill to cross.

Driving position3.0

There is more seat height adjustment than you'd guess based on the available headroom, presumably to cater to shorter drivers who want to sit higher up. There's plenty of fore-aft adjustment, and the steering wheel reach and tilt is adequate.

Roominess3.0

Front legroom is generous, but headroom is somewhat limited. Rear kneeroom, headroom and under-the-seat toe room are all decent. Middle passengers will appreciate the nearly flat floor in back. Three smaller adults would likely fit in the back given the amount of seat width, but two would be ideal.

Visibility3.5

For the most part, you won't have trouble seeing out of the Elantra. The rear view is unobstructed and the rear side windows are pulled back far, helping thin out the rear roof pillars. The side mirrors and front pillars don't obscure too much when the driver's making left turns. A backup camera and rear cross-traffic alert are usable bonuses.

Quality3.0

There are areas of this cabin that look nice and others that appear cheaply made. Hyundai spent money in the right places, such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, encouraging forgiveness of the surrounding hard plastic bits. But, unlike the Elantra GT, it does not emit a quality feel.

Utility3.0

The Elantra's trunk is above average for the class, and the rear seatback releases are easy to access. In-cabin storage is decent, but there are cars that do it better in the class, especially with the lack of anti-tip design for the cupholders. If you're looking to fit a car seat, there are some concerns.

Small-item storage3.5

The center armrest bin is a decent size, and the sliding drawer up front is big enough to hold a phone and wallet. The door pockets are average and fit a standard water bottle. There are two cupholders both front and back, without anti-tip design.

Cargo space4.0

At 14.4 cubic feet, the trunk isn't the largest, but it's above average. It has a nice wide opening and a short liftover, but it narrows a bit toward the rear seatbacks. The split-fold seat releases are in the trunk and easy to access, though you have to push the seats down from the rear doors.

Child safety seat accommodation3.0

LATCH anchors are buried in the seat cushions and are a little difficult to get to. They are easy to locate thanks to markers, but hooking them in will be a task. The top tethers are located under plastic flip doors and easier to access. Rear-facing car seats may be a squeeze.

Technology3.5

Hyundai was one of the first to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it continues to provide smart, well-integrated solutions to connect and use your smartphone. Driver aids tend not to be as user-friendly, but they have improved with this Elantra model.

Audio & navigation3.5

The audio system produces decent sound, but because the door speakers point toward your legs, you don't get quite the surround effect audiophiles may be looking for. The factory navigation system is standard issue from Hyundai — easy to use and straightforward but nothing remarkable.

Smartphone integration4.0

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as standard on all but the base SE. On the Limited you get two USB ports. There are no phone accessory plugs for the rear passengers. Bluetooth pairs quickly.

Driver aids3.5

Hyundai has improved the performance of the Elantra's driving aids in recent years. The lane-keeping assist system has various settings and works well. Adaptive cruise control works OK, though sometimes it does not look far enough ahead when adjusting speed.

Voice control3.5

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto voice controls become the default if plugged in. The native voice control system takes a little longer to process commands than some other systems in rival cars.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.