2008 Elantra New Car Test Drive
The Hyundai Elantra was completely redesigned for 2007, and the 2008 models come standard with more safety features.
The Elantra features handsome styling with nice lines. Its four-cylinder engine offers the latest technology, offering a good balance of power and fuel mileage. A 2008 Elantra with the optional four-speed automatic gets an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg City/Highway using the new 2008 test methods.
Elantra is a compact, competing against Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Chevy Cobalt and Dodge Caliber. Elantra offers lots of interior space for the class, a high level of standard safety equipment, and a strong warranty. And by other measures, it holds its own against those cars.
Hyundai claims that the Elantra warranty, 5 years or 60,000 miles, plus 10 years or 100,000 miles for the powertrain, is the best in its class.
Bigger than the previous-generation model, this fourth-generation Elantra offers a spacious cabin, storage compartments galore, and we found the seats very comfortable. It can seat up to five, but the Elantra is more comfortable with four. The back seats offer ample hip room and adequate legroom.
With its long-legged gearing, the Elantra can run 80 miles per hour all day without straining, and it's quiet at high speeds. 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. We found the brakes excellent and the cornering good.
For 2008, the Elantra SE comes with electronic stability control and Brake Assist, which were not available on 2007 models. A tire pressure monitoring system has been added.
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 2008 Hyundai Elantra comes in two trim levels, GLS and SE, both 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 ($13,525) 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 ($16,225) 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. A Premium Package ($1150) includes a power sunroof and heated front seats. Another Premium package ($1950) adds leather seating surfaces (and replaces last year's Limited model).
Cleaner-running PZEV versions (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) are sold in California, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine that come with the automatic transmission and are available in GLS ($14,525) and SE ($17,225) trim.
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. A tire pressure monitoring system comes standard on all models. Also, 24-hour roadside assistance for five years comes with the Elantra. Electronic Stability Control and Brake Assist comes on the SE model, which can help the driver control skids and stop more quickly in a panic braking situation.