Nine things we learned driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra [w/video]
Prepare To Not Be Blown Away
Power147 HP / 132 LB-FT
Curb Weight2,976 LBS
MPG28 City / 37 HWY
As Tested Price$27,585
Best Deal Price$19,775
Read our full First Drive for the usual impressions, or if you prefer, take them in via this new format we're trying out. Cutting right to the chase, here are nine things we learned from our time in the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.
It looks like three or four other cars, but that's a good thing.
The old model of derivative styling took a few well-known designs as inputs and spat out a bland object reminiscent of nothing and everything at once. Because there are no new ideas, and since recycling is a thing, designers have thankfully moved on to picking and choosing the pieces that work best and knitting them together into a cohesive design. On this Elantra, that means some Dodge Dart (RIP) in the hood and front fenders, a bit of Jaguar in the headlights, and hints of Mazda in the way the front end comes together. The result is handsomely inoffensive – less character than the last Elantra, maybe, but it all works. And the interior is a big step up in terms of materials, layout, and design. Have a look at our 360-degree VR overview below.
It will talk to your phone.
Every Elantra but the basiest base car comes with a touchscreen head unit. On models with the Popular Equipment Package, that's a seven-inch head unit with normal radio functions plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The Limited with Tech Package swaps that out for an eight-inch display with nav and the same smartphone projection powers.
The ride is better than the last Elantra's.
The front and rear suspensions have both been tweaked for the 2017 model, and the car is supposed to be much more rigid. It's most noticeable over big bumps; the car doesn't shudder like it used to and the suspension manages body movement well in almost all situations. There's still some body roll, but the front seats have surprisingly large bolsters that keep you in place. The steering is as numb as most other electric systems, although it does feel less artificial than on previous Hyundais.
There's absolutely nothing groundbreaking about the powertrain.
Initial production will include an SE model and the top Limited trim, which is the one we drove and what you see in the photos. Both get the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder and make the same 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. You can get a manual on a base SE while the rest are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Most automatic models are rated at 28 miles per gallon city, 37 highway, although the lighter SE without options hits 29/38 mpg.
Both the engine and automatic transmission have been updated; the engine is larger and runs on the more efficient Atkinson cycle while the transmission sees some efficiency improvements. This is standard stuff, really, and not exactly the state of the art. The engine and auto pair well together and provide the smoothness that previous Elantras lacked. Some missing pieces: Even in Sport mode, the transmission doesn't downshift when you slow down quickly. But who's buying an Elantra for the Sport mode?
Only the very base model comes with a manual.
Any options whatsoever require choosing the auto. Manual proponents might complain, but we'd suggest that if you're looking for the added involvement of a three-pedal system, it's probably best to look elsewhere. At a Mazda3, specifically. And anyway, the manual SE has the worst fuel-economy ratings of the bunch – 26 city, 36 highway.
You might want to wait for the Sport or the Eco.
Later this year, Hyundai will add an Eco model powered by a 1.4-liter turbo four. Like the Sonata Eco, it will be paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Don't expect huge jumps in fuel economy, though; figure a couple miles per gallon better than the 2.0-liter models. And it won't be available with all of the goodies you can get on a Limited. All we know about the Sport is that it will debut at the SEMA show in November and be "the most dynamic Elantra ever." That's kind of a low bar, but given how the base 2017 model is now pretty well mannered, some more power and a few chassis enhancements could give you a reason to want a manual in this car.
There are three main competitors: Civic, Cruze, and Mazda3.
There's a lot of newness in the compact segment right now. The Mazda3 is always charming to those who actually enjoy driving, the latest Civic is once again the all-rounder of the segment, and if Chevy continues to spit out improved cars, the 2017 Cruze will be one to consider. The Elantra doesn't really stand out from the pack, but it does offer the features that everyone else has plus a few of its own.
It has some things no other compact offers.
How about a hands-free trunk? In theory it removes the need to touch anything when you have your hands full and want access to the cargo hold; in practice, since it just releases the trunk and the springs aren't powerful enough to fully pop it up, you'll still have to make some bodily contact with the trunk lid to get the thing wide open. But no other compact-segment model has that, nor do they offer pedestrian detection, or driver seat and mirror memory. Getting all of that requires a Limited with all of the option packages, which puts the price well up into the range of a well-equipped midsizer.
You probably want the SE with Popular Equipment Package.
For $19,785, or $800 on top of the price of an SE with the six-speed automatic, you get the seven-inch head unit, audio controls on the steering wheel, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, 16-inch wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth, heated side mirrors, and a hood insulator that absorbs some of the engine's racket. That's solid equipment for any car, and probably about all you'd need. But if you really want to go nuts on an SE, there's a Tech Package with things like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection, a color screen between the gauges, dual auto climate control, and proximity key. Then there's the Limited, with its leather seats and even more available stuff that we'd try to talk you out of.
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