2002 Elantra New Car Test Drive
No excuses, disclaimers or frequent reminders about the low price and great warranty. Hyundai's new Elantra GT is a good car on its own merits.
How so? Start with the five-door body style, which offers the practical advantages of a small wagon with the sleek look of a well-designed sedan. On the functionality scale, this package is hard to beat.
Consider the most powerful standard engine in the subcompact class, and a standard-equipment list as long or longer than cars that cost $10.000-$15,000 more. The Elantra GT's interior is nicely finished. Measured by build quality, it meets or beats most of its competitors. This Hyundai has the sporty feel many subcompact buyers seek, and with the standard manual transmission it's good fun to drive. We believe it will surpass most buyers' expectations.
The Elantra GT was introduced late in the 2001 model year and did not change for 2002.
The Elantra GT (MSRP $13,999) joins the Elantra GLS sedan ($12,499). The new GT model essentially replaces the Elantra wagon, which was dropped from Hyundai's 2001 lineup. No real problem there. With its rear hatch and split folding rear seat, the GT is remarkably versatile for a car its size.
The GT shares the four-door GLS's 2.0-liter, 140-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The most obvious difference between the two is the GT's five-door body style.
Both Elantra models have an impressive array of standard features, including air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks and a center console with armrest. The standard safety features are anything but economy grade: front and front-passenger side-impact airbags, rear headrests and three-point harnesses at all five seating positions.
Still, the Elantra GT expands on the GLS sedan's standard-equipment list. The five-door GT was fashioned in the tradition of compact European sport sedans, and in that spirit comes with a firmer sport-tuned suspension and five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels. Four-wheel disc brakes are included (the GLS has rear drums). Leather seating surfaces are standard, too (try finding those on another car in this price range), as are a 100-watt, six-speaker stereo with CD player, cruise control, remote keyless entry and rear-glass wiper and washer.
The GT is geared toward the young and young at heart-those who seek maximum involvement in driving-so Hyundai is promoting it with its standard five-speed manual transmission. Yet there is an automatic available. It's actually considered a separate model, identical to the Elantra GT except for its four-speed automatic and $14,799 sticker.
Our $14,572 test car had full-carpet floor mats-a $78 option. Beyond the mats, the only factory options available on the GT are a slide-and-tilt power moonroof ($650), antilock brakes with electronic front-wheel traction control ($1175, including the moonroof) and a cargo net ($38).
The warranty, by the way, is one of the best available. The basic warranty lasts five years or 60,000 miles for the original owner, with free roadside assistance throughout. The engine and transmission are warranted for 10 years, 100,0000 miles, and Hyundai protects Elantra from rust-through for five years or 100,000 miles.