2018 Hyundai Elantra

2018 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Review

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra offers upscale features at an agreeable price.
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

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

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, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco (turbo 1.4L inline-4 | 7-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Elantra has received some revisions, including changes to trim-level equipment. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Elantra.

driving

Your driving experience with the Elantra will largely depend on which trim level and engine you choose. The seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is a bit clunky, but handling and braking are better than average.

acceleration

The standard 2.0-liter engine is disappointing, with some of the slowest 0-60-mph times in the class, while the Eco has good midrange power and is a bit faster. Expect the Sport to be significantly quicker.

braking

The SE comes with less sophisticated rear drum brakes, but on the whole the brakes perform with consistency. The pedal feel is good, and stopping power is easy to modulate.

steering

There's not much feel to be had through the steering wheel, but that doesn't take away from its accuracy. The modes (Normal, Eco and Sport) don't differ very much from one another, but Sport makes the Elantra's already strangely heavy steering almost comically difficult.

handling

Don't let the tall side walls and 15-inch wheels put you off because the Elantra Eco handles better than you'd expect. The sidewalls aren't too soft, and they do a good job of not only absorbing bumps midcorner but also telegraphing slip and traction levels through the indifferent steering wheel.

drivability

In the Eco trim level, the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is very indecisive. Pulling away from a stop smoothly is impossible unless you use full throttle, and that's not very good for mpg. The six-speed automatic is a bit smoother but much slower.

comfort

The Elantra is quiet, with comfortable front seats and an above-average ride quality. The Sport model will likely be a little less forgiving, but overall this is a pretty cushy compact sedan.

seat comfort

Most trim levels come with cloth upholstery, and even without power adjustment (which is optional), the seats are accommodating and comfortable. The cloth offers enough grip to hold you in place and does not look or feel downmarket.

ride comfort

The base SE and Eco trim levels both come with tall sidewalls on their tires. These tires absorb so many of the commonly encountered road irregularities. When the road is smooth and the speeds are high, however, the Elantra could use some better body control, especially in the rear.

noise & vibration

The Elantra is largely free of wind noise and vibration, even at elevated highway speeds. The tires, too, are quiet and keep unwanted ride harshness from the cabin.

interior

The Elantra's interior is definitely a top selling point. It's well built, attractive and spacious. In addition, the controls are logically placed, and getting in and out is a breeze.

ease of use

The Elantra's cabin is well laid out and easy to use. There's not much visual clutter, the buttons are all well marked, and the center screen is easy to read. The gauges are bright and simple as well, so they are easy to read at a glance.

getting in/getting out

The door openings are sizable, so it's easy to get in and out of the Elantra for both front and rear seat passengers.

driving position

With six-way-adjustable seating and a long-reaching telescoping steering column, the driving position can be tailored to suit a wide variety of people. It's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel with few adjustments.

roominess

The compact Elantra makes good use of space and gives the driver and passengers plenty of room. Two passengers in the rear seat should find enough space and good visibility, but adding a third might cause some discomfort.

visibility

The low hood and thin windshield pillars give you good forward visibility, and the side windows are big enough to easily check your blind spot. The slightly high trunk line is a bit tough to see over, but the rearview camera alleviates that problem when parking.

quality

Fit and finish in the Elantra is on par with that of the class leaders. Materials quality is generally good, even though you'll find some hard plastics here and there. Even the base cloth seats do not feel or look cheap, and the various buttons and knobs work smoothly.

utility

A large trunk, plenty of small-item storage in the cabin, and decent room in the back for child safety seats make the Elantra very utilitarian. Competitors, however, offer hatchback configurations that offer more space.

small-item storage

There's no shortage of door storage, cupholders or other compartments in the Elantra. Just below the center console is a concealable compartment to plug in and hide your phone or sunglasses.

cargo space

Access to the trunk is good, the liftover height is low, and the 14.4 cubic feet of storage is near the top of its class. Split-and-folding rear seats give you added flexibility, though you won't be hauling anything too large because of the sedan body style.

child safety seat accomodation

Good access to the rear seats, along with good rear seat legroom, makes for easy installation.

technology

Smartphone integration and blind-spot monitoring come standard on all but the lowest trim level. A host of active driver aids are also available, although only on the Limited trim.

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.