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.
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.
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
edmunds expert review process
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