Vital Stats

Engine:
1.8L I4
Power:
145 HP / 130 LB-Ft
Transmission:
6-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,943 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
14.8 CU-FT
MPG:
27 City / 37 HWY
Base Price:
$17,200


The reality of growing up and living in Detroit is an interesting one. You're essentially born with minute traces of gasoline in your veins and everyone you know is associated with the auto industry in some way. That's not an exaggeration. They might be the child of a line worker at the local auto plant, or they may hold down a job at a restaurant frequented by employees at a big supplier, but no matter what, everyone is part of the auto-industry ecosystem.

Because of this, the stories you may have heard about Detroiters and their distaste for foreign cars is, frustratingly, true. Simply put, Toyota and Honda are blatantly disliked by most, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz are merely tolerated. For a car reviewer who prides himself on making egalitarian recommendations, it's a frustrating environment to live in, particularly when friends and family ask that inevitable question – which is followed by an equally inevitable qualifier – "What should my next car be?" and "One more thing – it can't be foreign." It's this attitude that's perhaps the reason no one I know even considered buying a Hyundai Elantra.

Despite the fact that the compact sedan is built in Montgomery, AL and that Hyundai maintains a shiny, new, sprawling tech facility less than 45 minutes outside of downtown Detroit, the Elantra's status as a "foreign" car immediately precludes it from most Motown buyers' shopping lists. This is to their detriment, as I discovered during a week of testing the refreshed-for-2014 Hyundai Elantra.

2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra

New headlights and taillights add a touch of class, giving a more upscale appearance, particularly at night.

Hyundai unveiled its mid-cycle update of the Elantra back in November at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. The model-year changeover renewed the Elantra's fascia, with a slightly different grille design, but the dominant change up front for higher-end models is a set of new LED-trimmed headlights, along with revised foglights. In back, LED taillights have been added. While these sound like relatively minor changes, their impact on the Elantra's presence cannot be overstated. The new headlights and taillights add a touch of class, giving it a more upscale appearance, particularly at night. The halogen headlights sport a subtle, but stylish LED ribbon, one that's considerably different than the borderline obnoxious accents found on other vehicles. In fact, the overall effect is similar to what Audi has accomplished with its A4 and A5, opting for an unbroken stream of light in favor of individual diodes, as on earlier models.

This philosophy of subtle but impactful exterior changes hasn't really been carried over into the cabin. This is more or less the same well-thought-out, nicely trimmed interior as it was way back in 2011. Plastic remains the dominant material inside, although the Elantra's solid fit and finish and a lack of sharp edges means it isn't a detriment. The leather-wrapped steering wheel on my Limited tester is a nice touch as compact cars go, with hide that feels like quality material. The same can be said of the leather that line the seats – obviously this isn't the kind of stuff you'd find in a Mercedes-Benz Designo interior or from Bentley's Mulliner works, but in the $25,000 space, it's quite nice.

2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra

This is more or less the same well-thought-out, nicely trimmed interior as it was way back in 2011.

The benefit of making minimal interior changes is that the Elantra remains a very easy cabin to live with. The tilt-telescopic steering and eight-way power driver's seat proved perfectly adequate in finding a comfortable seating position for my six-foot, one-inch frame. Those seats aren't hugely supportive, though, feeling more flat than cosseting. The upside is easy ingress and egress, while backseat passengers have a reasonable amount of legroom, with the Elantra's 33.1 inches falling just short of the Ford Focus and its 33.2 inches. Really, though, if rear-seat space is your priority, you'd be much better served by a Chevrolet Cruze (35.4 inches) or a Nissan Sentra (37.4 inches). Visibility, meanwhile, remains excellent all around.

In terms of actual cabin space, the Elantra is on par with rivals, despite the lack of rear legroom. Its 95.6 cubic feet of passenger volume is actually 0.6 cubic feet more than the Cruze and just 0.3 cubic feet short of the Sentra. It's a similar story in regards to cargo volume, with the Elantra down less than a half a cubic foot on its rivals, at 14.8. That cargo area is pretty easy to expand, too, with a standard 60/40 split rear seat. As is the fashion, the model's rear bumper is high and the trunk opening isn't exactly gaping. Really, though, if you're buying an Elantra for utility, you'd be best off ignoring the sedan and going straight for the long-roof GT.

While Hyundai has opted to fit a new, 2.0-liter four-cylinder to a number of trims in the Elantra family, my tester made do with the old 1.8-liter Nu engine. With just 145 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't wishing for the extra 28 horsepower and 24 pound-feet of torque of the 2.0-liter four found in the four-door Elantra Sport.

2014 Hyundai Elantra

You'll have to dig pretty deeply into the skinny pedal to make use of all the ponies and torques.

While the 2,943-pound Elantra certainly could do with more power, there's enough on offer with the naturally aspirated 1.8-liter for commuting. The Elantra can still outgun the heavier, non-turbo Chevrolet Cruze, after all. Peak power arrives at 6,500 rpm, just 250 rpm south of redline, while peak torque arrives at a lofty 4,750 rpm. There's enough usable power in the lower and middle parts of the rev range to keep the Hyundai from feeling oppressively slow, but you'll still have to dig pretty deeply into the skinny pedal to make use of all the ponies and torques.

This might be an issue in a car with a buzzier exhaust note, like a Dodge Dart, but it's not a big deal in the Elantra. The Hyundai packs a comparatively refined four-cylinder tone that doesn't intrude too strongly into the cabin, and it's paired with an accelerator that's not overly abrupt, offering up well-judged modulation.

Of course, you aren't going to want to be too forceful with the throttle if you're hoping to match the 37-mile-per-gallon EPA highway rating listed on the Elantra's window sticker. I had little issue approaching that figure during a week of heavy freeway use, recording 34 to 35 mpg throughout my week. The 31-mpg combined rating seems easily achievable, and indeed, higher figures in mixed driving should be possible, provided you take advantage of the Eco mode button, which tamps throttle response and alters the transmission's shift schedule in an effort to return greener numbers. The Elantra's highway rating and its 27-mpg figure in the city match nicely with the competitive Focus and Cruze, although the domestics do offer fuel-sipping options – Focus SFE and Cruze Eco – that elevate them beyond the Hyundai.

2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra

One of the more significant pieces of tech added to the Elantra 2014 is its Driver Selectable Steering Mode.

Speaking of transmissions, opting for the Limited trim locks you into the six-speed automatic. As has become the case in the world of modern gearboxes, there's nothing particularly wrong with this unit. Dig into the throttle and it serves up a lower gear without much hunting about, and upshifts are dispatched smoothly and without drama or histrionics. And despite the fact that not a single customer will use it for sporting purposes, the Elantra features a manual shift mode on the gear lever, something that at least may be useful on long descents.

One of the more significant pieces of tech added to the Elantra Sedan for 2014 is its Driver Selectable Steering Mode, a bit of technology that first appeared on the 2013 Elantra GT. With three different profiles available via wheel-mounted button, drivers can easily tweak steering effort to their whim. As is the usual case, Comfort offers the lightest degree of effort while Sport is the heaviest. In Normal and Comfort mode, the steering is a bit too light on center for my tastes, although weight does build progressively through the turns. Still, the steering's lackluster on-center feel hurts the Elantra's sense of stability at freeway speeds and on bumpy roads. The problems with these modes in general, though, is that regardless of which setting is selected, there is an utter and complete lack of feedback – a fairly predictable reality for a car in this class fitted with electronic power-assisted steering.

2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra

Ride quality has been helped by Hyundai's decision to pass on larger wheels in favor of comfort-minded 17-inch stock.

Taking steering out of the equation, though, and the Elantra's overall poise is quite good. MacPherson struts with coil springs in front and a torsion axle with coils in the back underpin the car. The result is a fairly composed ride, one that responds well to bumps and imperfections. Unlike a certain matte-gray Autoblog long-termer from Hyundai with a similar suspension setup, the Elantra doesn't sidestep when encountering imperfections mid-corner. The ride has certainly been helped by Hyundai's decision to pass on larger wheels in favor of comfort-minded 17-inch stock, wrapped in the meaty sidewalls of 215/45 Hankook Optimo rubber.

Despite offering up a softer ride and a thicker sidewall, the ride isn't particularly floaty. Roll comes on smoothly and doesn't cause the chassis to feel out of sorts when pushed through a turn, while squat and dive are on par with the class. As is the case with the steering, feedback through the chassis is quite limited. There are certainly more compelling driver's vehicles in this segment of the market, especially one from a certain Zoom-Zoom brand. Not surprisingly, this soft ride is also pretty quiet. There's not a lot of tire roar or wind noise to contend with, and the engine is quiet at idle.

Sitting behind those standard 17-inch wheels are a fairly basic set of brakes comprised of 11-inch, vented front rotors and 10.3-inch solid rears. The hardware may not be remarkable, but stopping power is totally adequate, and the brake pedal feels solid and predictable. It's also easy to modulate, allowing subtle adjustments to braking effort in the middle of deceleration.

2014 Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra's $17,200 starting price is competitive with the $16,810 Focus while undercutting the $18,345 Cruze.

The Elantra's $17,200 starting price is competitive with the $16,810 Focus while undercutting the $18,345 Cruze. The Limited model tested here, meanwhile, kicks off at $21,650, which is quite a bit cheaper than the $23,075 Focus Titanium and $23,085 Cruze LTZ. The Elantra's standard goodies match up well, too, with leather seats, Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system, 17-inch wheels, the cool LED-accented headlights and LED taillights and a rear-view camera all coming as standard. The sole option is a $2,750 Technology Package, which adds a seven-inch touchscreen navigation system, a so-so 360-watt stereo, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and a sunroof. Including an $810 destination charge and a $125 set of carpeted floormats, the as-tested price for this Elantra is $25,335.

That's certainly comparable with an equally equipped Focus Titanium, which rings up at $25,590. The Hyundai maintains its advantage over the Cruze, though, which checks out at $26,420. Really, though, considering that both the Cruze and Focus offer slightly more power and comparable economy numbers, the pricing argument is a wash.

Considering its price and accomplishments, the Elantra is a car that should, logically, be cross-shopped against the domestic competitors. It's an equal in virtually every way, it's arguably more attractive than many in the segment, it's economical, it's priced competitively, and it has a screaming warranty.

Now, if my fellow Detroiters could only get over that badge...

UPDATE: A previous version of this story stated that the Elantra's Driver Selectable Steering Mode defaulted back to Normal upon startup. This was incorrect. The story has been edited to reflect this.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 118 Comments
      tiguan2.0
      • 5 Months Ago
      My question, does this still have the worst driving dynamics in this class. The new 1.8T in the Jetta really boost it way back up, and pushing this Elantra back to the bottom of the class.
      john
      • 6 Months Ago
      Ouch! I find that price as tested ridiculously high! Never was a fan of Hyundai in general but now I love my Brand New base WRX even more! Awesome car for just a bit more $$. CRAZY!
        drew
        • 6 Months Ago
        @john
        Have fun achieving feature parity for that price. This isn't an enthusiast vehicle.
          NightFlight
          • 5 Months Ago
          @drew
          Oh John, you don't even understand that the Elantra and WRX really don't even compete against each other.
          express2day
          • 5 Months Ago
          @drew
          @john Ok and someone who didn't want the extra "bells and whistles" of the Elantra Limited could get an Elantra SE that retails for about $8,800 LESS than even the cheapest WRX. To them, the WRX is ridiculously overpriced. Someone shopping just Subarus may want a loaded up Impreza Limited, which retails for over $25K even before starting down the "accessories" list, over a WRX because they would rather have the extra "bells and whistles." Everyone's wants and needs can be different and you're just no logically comparing the car tested in this article vs. a WRX.
        MrMonkaroo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @john
        Not really considering the WRX is based the impreza which is a economy car like the Elantra. After you factor in how much money Subaru saved in that sub par interior of the WRX, I would say you paid too much.Considering you can get better in any family sedan. Btw the Elantra interior is head and shoulders above that WRX.
          ravenosa
          • 5 Months Ago
          @MrMonkaroo
          "I would say you paid too much.Considering you can get better in any family sedan. Btw the Elantra interior is head and shoulders above that WRX." I would say you haven't sat in both cars. The interior of the WRX more solidly built, has MUCH nicer seats and steering wheel, less cheap-looking design (that Elantra center console looks straight out of a rental car) and is a great car for the money. Sit in a "family sedan" like a brand new Camry sometime, then sit in a new WRX. I'll take the WRX any day. Let me guess: you drive a generic commuter car and dropped some serious coin for it...
      Arizonarelax
      • 6 Months Ago
      What does it say that Hyundai's limited trim level and options are roughly 32% of this cars base price? Or approximately an additional $8,600 bucks or about half of the cars base price for an as tested model. What is that I hear? Circus music? P.T Barnum & Bailey Circus in town. To quote "There's a sucker born every minute".
        friend
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Arizonarelax
        Only automotive neophytes should be surprised at this. Pretty much every car out there has a base + 50% price spread. That's industry standard. Just look at the prices quoted for the Cruze and Focus in this article. Most midsize sedans go from 20k - 30k+, entry level luxury models go from 40k - 60k etc.
          mary.keana
          • 6 Months Ago
          @friend
          But NightFlight, Hyundai brags that even their base models are loaded!
          NightFlight
          • 5 Months Ago
          @friend
          @ ravenosa Of course he doesn't. We are talking about Aaronm_mt here.
          ravenosa
          • 5 Months Ago
          @friend
          " Hyundai brags that even their base models are loaded!" Do you have a single link or quote as an example, Mary? No. You don't. Have a nice day.
          Awhattup
          • 5 Months Ago
          @friend
          It's actually fairly loaded
      raidersfan17
      • 6 Months Ago
      While I find the Elantra generally appealing to look at I can't get over the fact there is over $8,000 dollars in options. Maybe I am out of touch, but that seems excessive on a $17,000 automobile. Can you say bait and switch? Also, If a manufacturer is going to send out a vehicle for press release and photos, wouldn't' you think they would go over it with a fine tooth comb? The passenger side vent trim does not line up with the door trim. No car is perfect, but come on that is not even close
        express2day
        • 6 Months Ago
        @raidersfan17
        It has long been possible to go up trim and/or add options equaling 40% to 50%+ of a car's base price but there's no need to do so especially if shopping on a tighter budget. The $17,200 model which already includes air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power seat, intermittent wipers, tilt and telescoping wheel, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo, and more is pretty cheap and should be more than enough for those more budget conscious buyers.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @raidersfan17
        Day of you getting a good car for 17K are long over, just look at any competitor. A nice without leather Civic or Corolla are in 20+K area now.
          Arizonarelax
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          Larry not going to disagree with your statement. So if you want a reasonably equipped compact/base car - expect 23 to 25K. The 17K base price is a "carrot" to bring you in, knowing that all the additional options / trim levels added will only be worth a 1/3, if that, of what you paid for them when you trade or sell. I get it, enjoy your car with the options you can afford. A car has never been an investment but the trim levels and options seem steep at Hyundai. But in this case over 8k for trim level and options to me - even long term - is a luxury and additional cash for payment that I will pass on.
        BillyM67
        • 6 Months Ago
        @raidersfan17
        You're right, but they all do it.....the worst is the luxury cars that have no luxury to them until you option them up an additional $10-$15K.
        Justin Campanale
        • 5 Months Ago
        @raidersfan17
        You can say pretty much the same thing for just about any other compact on the market today. The Focus can go up to $27 k. If you tick every bell and whistle on the option page, then you're going to be paying for it.
        Bill
        • 5 Months Ago
        @raidersfan17
        A base Elantra from 10 years ago cost nearly the same as now but with less features… A loaded Elantra 10 years ago was far cheaper than now but comes nowhere near the options you get now… A loaded Elantra does cost a lot but is likely one of the cheapest cars to get if you wish to get those options… As car people know… options in general are huge profit makers for auto manufacturers and people are getting less bang for their buck for any loaded car… however, at least people now have the choice to spend 25K for a car with all the options they want instead of say five years ago when they needed to spend 50K for a car with the same options...
      mary.keana
      • 5 Months Ago
      Another Autoblog writer fawing over a Hyundai. How much they slip you under the table to write stuff like this? Hyundai has impressively crossed its T's and dotted its I's – there are no range issues" No range issues on the new Hyundai Tuscon Fuelcell vehicle. When can we expect your cross-country test drive?
      IBx27
      • 5 Months Ago
      The reason nobody you know wants one of these isn't because it's foreign, it's because it's a hyundai. A boring, slushy, transportation device.
        ravenosa
        • 5 Months Ago
        @IBx27
        Yet people insist on buying Toyotas and Nissans. I test drove a 2014 Kia Soul! and I thought it was a great little vehicle. When I think "boring, slushy, transportation" device I usually think Volvo or GM or something...
        Dmitriy Markelov
        • 5 Months Ago
        @IBx27
        They are selling like hot cakes. I see the things everyday.
        carguy1701
        • 5 Months Ago
        @IBx27
        Isn't that what 95% of the buying public wants?
      carguy1701
      • 5 Months Ago
      Only 'meh' cars in this segment are coming from Japanese brands (save Mazda).
        Lachmund
        • 5 Months Ago
        @carguy1701
        Actually the Japanese still drive better than the Korean ones.
          carguy1701
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Lachmund
          >CVT >better I don't think so, Tim.
          carguy1701
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Lachmund
          I never said Hyundai's transmissions were good or bad, but I know for a fact that CVTs don't work. You can buy into all the advertising you want, but it doesn't change facts.
          foxtrot685
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Lachmund
          Yes, because the Powertech 6-speed auto from Hyundai is WORLDS better...
        Justin Campanale
        • 5 Months Ago
        @carguy1701
        You forgot Subaru. And the Cruze is a "meh" car too.
      skiligM
      • 6 Months Ago
      I would take this over a civic.
      Jimmy Joe
      • 5 Months Ago
      And why is Hyundai just now coming out with a 2014 model?
      Matt
      • 6 Months Ago
      Im going to have to disagree with you a bit here Brandon. While you are spot on about the steering (Its way too light), I find the plastics in the interior to be sub-par and forward visability to be horrible when making turns and trying to place the car. My girlfriend has a 2013 which I drive fairly frequently (what car guy likes being a passanger?) so I have spent some time with this vehicle. That being said, its a fine commuter car (minus the visability issue) and I can easily get 35 on the highway. However, in the city, I manage about 24-25 mpg, so not the best. Needless to say, I will be purchasing a compact vehicle in the coming months to suppliment my 1990 Miata and will be focusing on the refreshed Focus or the Mazda 3 hatch.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Matt
        Mazda is the way to go between those two, Focus is very small inside, rear seat is very uncomfortable.
          MrMonkaroo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          I like Mazda and have owned one but they need to do more about road and wind noise in their cars. They are notorious for weight savings while not providing enough sound deadening.
          Gorgenapper
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          I can't hear this so-called "road and wind noise" over the sound of my turbo spooling and my CPE Triton catback.
          Bexly
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          Who's downvoting Monkaroo? I love my '07 3 but hot damn is there a lot of road and wind noise.
          Justin Campanale
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          I've driven a 2014 Mazda6 as a rental and they seem to have kept NVH to a minimum.
        NightFlight
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Matt
        @ MrMonkaroo I had no issues with wind or road noise when I had my '10 Mazdaspeed3.
        Justin Campanale
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Matt
        You can't go wrong with the Mazda3. More interior space, better handling and more fun, better mileage, and probably cheaper. I'd also look at the Dart if I were shopping in this segment.
        Gorgenapper
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Matt
        I test drove a 2014 Mazda 3 2.5L hatch (sadly in automatic), and while it has nowhere near the power of my stage 2 MS3 it is nothing short of brilliant as far as a daily driver goes. The interior is understated and very premium in look and feel (think 'clean' and 'well executed'), all of the controls come to hand easily and it drives and steers very nicely indeed. The exterior also looks premium - especially if you get it in blue, or dark grey. Really a superb vehicle and my first choice if I were in the market for a non-performance FWD compact.
      Jasonn
      • 6 Months Ago
      Maybe I am a little biased but when it comes to cars in this compact class, but there are really only two options that I'd consider: The Subaru Impreza and the Mazda3. They are far and away better than anything else in this class of cars. I've extensively driven the Focus, Cruze, Versa and Elantra and wasn't impressed. The Subaru was good in every way except for the outdated displays. The Mazda was nice, but visibility was just about worst in class, but everything else was good enough to overcome that.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jasonn
        Mazda is GREAT, i drove it many times. But you need to understand that many people enjoy that soft, cushy Hyundai ride. Someone who is into car may not, but regular people see it as a plus.
        chanonissan
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jasonn
        versa is ab compact , probably you mean sentra.
          Jasonn
          • 6 Months Ago
          @chanonissan
          Yes Sentra, sorry about that.
      jase.s
      • 5 Months Ago
      Autoblog, how do you feel about reviewing a car (for your own auto enthusiast site, no less!) and having a bunch of the comments saying that the car sucks just because of the badge, the car isn't built here (so it's apparently no good?), or that you're bribed for writing a good review? Your viewer base consistently posts more comments on articles about politics or economy, and bashes articles about anything that isn't a high performance car. You should start moderating comments or the actual auto enthusiasts on here will begin to leave.
        NightFlight
        • 5 Months Ago
        @jase.s
        "You should start moderating comments or the actual auto enthusiasts on here will begin to leave." I left for a long time for this exact reason.
        luvscars2003
        • 5 Months Ago
        @jase.s
        I have never up voted or replied to a comment on this or any auto site until now. The thing is, it is not just this site where the lack of maturity occurs.
          • 5 Months Ago
          @luvscars2003
          [blocked]
        BodyBlue
        • 5 Months Ago
        @jase.s
        There is no stopping it now.....ploggers (have ruined) the already bad online car mag business. When people are paid to put out talking points (political or automotive) and those an online mag relies on hit counts to set ad rates etc, it equals what we have today on most auto site.........a hot mess of dirtbags that get paid to disrupt.
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