2007 Elantra New Car Test Drive
The 2007 Hyundai Elantra has been totally redesigned. Now, for the first time, the Elantra features handsome styling with nice lines. Its four-cylinder engine offers the latest technology, now revised for more power and better fuel mileage: 28 city and 36 highway miles per gallon.
This all-new, fourth-generation Elantra is trying hard to compete against the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Chevy Cobalt and the new Dodge Caliber. That's a strong heap, but the Elantra stands on top in two areas, interior space and standard safety equipment. And by other measures, it holds its own.
Hyundai also claims that the Elantra warranty, 5 years or 60,000 miles plus 10 years or 100,000 miles for the powertrain, is the best.
Hyundai hopes for a younger image for this all-new Elantra, but the marketing road can be rougher than the engineering road. With enough effort, a carmaker can build a great car; but convincing buyers, especially young ones, to lay down cash can be harder. Designed by an American team in California, the Elantra's looks are better than ever, but it still has the soul of a mature person's car; that is, someone who might put practicality ahead of coolness. Of course, the same might be said about Civic and Corolla buyers.
The 2007 Elantra is taller, wider and longer in wheelbase than last year's model. The increased size has been used to good advantage inside the spacious cabin; not only that, there are storage compartments galore. It's clear that someone has been doing some thinking about this car. The seats are very comfortable and it's quiet at speed. It's long-legged for a compact car, and can run 80 miles per hour without straining.
The ride is good, although a bad freeway with relentless sharp bumps is more than the Elantra can accept without passing on some of the annoyance to the front seats. The brakes are excellent, and the cornering is good.
It can seat up to five, but the Elantra is more comfortable with four. The back seats offer ample hip room and adequate legroom. Because the Elantra generally costs less than the competition, it might well be a long-term bargain. However, resale value always needs to be considered, and that competition includes the stalwarts from Honda and Toyota.
The 2007 Hyundai Elantra comes in three trim levels, all of which use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers have a choice between five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission ($1000) for each trim level.
The GLS ($13,395) is the most basic and comes standard with power steering, power locks, windows and keyless entry, power heated mirrors, tinted glass, a 60/40 split rear folding seat with access to the trunk, and 15-inch wheels with full-size plastic wheel covers. The Preferred Package for the GLS ($1500) includes things that most car buyers consider necessary: air conditioning, AM/FM/CD six-speaker sound system, cruise control and foglamps. XM satellite radio is built into the sound system.
The SE ($15,695) is the sporty model and includes all the options in the GLS Preferred Package, plus a telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and 16-inch alloy wheels with wider profile tires. The only option is a Premium Package that includes a power sunroof and heated front seats.
The Limited ($16,695) features leather seating surfaces and trim, and heated front seats. The Sun and Sound package includes a power sunroof and 220-watt premium audio system with a six-CD changer having MP3 capability, with standard XM satellite radio.
Safety features that come on all Elantra models include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, and active front head restraints. Electronic stability control is not available. But 24-hour roadside assistance for five years comes with the Elantra.
There's also a PZEV model, producing very low ('Partial Zero,' in government terminology) emissions, for California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. It comes with the automatic transmission and is available in GLS, SE or Limited trim.