2015 Elantra New Car Test Drive
The Hyundai Elantra remains one of the best choices in the compact segment, combining unique design and practicality in a fuel-efficient package. Elantra comes in three basic body styles: four-door sedan, two-door coupe, hatchback GT.
Refreshed for 2014, the Elantra lineup debuts redesigned front and rear styling, interior changes and a new Sport trim level for the sedan.
Elantra Sport gets an all-new 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine good for 173 horsepower (25 hp more than the previous generation 1.8-liter model) and 154 pound-feet of torque, along with retuned steering and stiffer suspension. Standard features on the Elantra Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, aluminum pedals, projector headlights and LED tail lamps.
Elantra LE and Elantra Limited are powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 that makes 145 horsepower.
Elantra Coupe and GT models are also powered by the new 2.0-liter engine. Coupes get sport-tuned steering, a new rear spoiler and a standard blackout front grille. One well-equipped trim level now replaces last year's two trim level choices. GT models now come with optional LED taillights. As before, Elantra GT offers three selectable steering modes, which offer heavier or lighter steering feel depending on preference.
We have found all the Elantra variants enjoyable to drive. The Elantra sedan's smooth ride and responsive handling make for a plush, but not numb, driving experience. Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT models feel more connected to the road, without sacrificing road-trip comfort. We drove an Elantra Sport and found the new 2.0-liter engine had plenty of power and pull, even while climbing up steep mountain ranges at highway speeds. However, the stiffer suspension made for some fatigue after a long road trip on less-than-smooth surfaces, and we found the new engine's direct injection quite noisy at idle and at slower speeds.
Inside, the 2014 Elantra gets subtle tweaks, including new air conditioning controls and vent placements, and a repositioned center armrest. We found the standard air-conditioning system with manual knobs easy to use, though it has only four fan speeds.
A new 7-inch touchscreen is optional on top-of-the-line Elantra Limited trims, along with a retooled interface that includes improved voice recognition and Pandora integration. Unfortunately, this screen, along with navigation, is not available on base trims. Instead, the only option is a smaller, 4.3-inch touchscreen (standard on Sport and Limited trims), which displays audio, phone and vehicle information, and serves as the display for the rearview camera.
Despite recent controversy over Hyundai's fuel economy ratings, the 2014 Hyundai Elantra still achieves very good fuel economy figures for its class, even after the EPA adjusted its numbers downward for Elantra models. Elantra sedans achieve 27/37 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual and 28/38 mpg with the 6-speed automatic. Elantra Sport sedans are rated at 24/34 mpg with the manual and 24/35 mpg with the automatic. Elantra Limited sedans are rated at 27/37 mpg City/Highway, and only come with the automatic transmission. While driving these cars, we achieved better fuel economy than the EPA figures.
Elantra Coupes are rated at 24/34 mpg City/Highway with the automatic transmission. GT models are rated at 24/34 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual and 24/33 mpg with the 6-speed automatic.
Competitors to the Elantra sedan include perennial favorites like the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. The Elantra Coupe takes on the Honda Civic coupe and the Kia Forte Koup, along with larger, more expensive two-doors such as the Honda Accord. The five-door Elantra GT goes up against popular hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and the recently redesigned Volkswagen Golf.
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra comes in three body styles: Elantra sedan four-door, Elantra Coupe two-door, and Elantra GT five-door hatchback.
Elantra SE ($17,250) is powered by a 1.8-liter inline-4 and a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include manually operated air conditioning, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability and iPod/USB port; 60/40-split folding rear seat, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, trip computer, and 15-inch alloy wheels. An optional Popular Equipment Package adds a 4.3-inch touch screen, Bluetooth phone integration with voice activation, minor interior enhancements and additional lighting, automatic headlights, fog lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Elantra Sport ($21,600) is powered by the 2.0-liter inline-4 and comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmission. Standard features include those found on the SE plus leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, aluminum pedals, a sport tuned suspension, projector headlights, LED tail lamps and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport Tech Package adds a 360-watt premium sound system, a 7-inch touch screen with navigation and Hyundai BlueLink telematics.
Elantra Limited ($21,700) is also powered by the 2.0-liter engine and comes only with the automatic transmission. Standard features include leather upholstery, heated rear seats and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. The Ultimate Package for the Limited adds the same 7-inch screen and audio system as the Sport's Tech package, plus a power sunroof, dual automatic climate control and a proximity key with pushbutton start.
Elantra Coupe ($19,600) uses the 2.0-liter engine and comes in a single trim level with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, 6-way adjustable driver's seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 6-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability, USB port and auxiliary audio jack, heated folding power mirrors, a rear spoiler, twin exhaust outlets, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Optional on the Coupe is the Technology Package, which adds leather upholstery, upgraded audio system, 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, a power sunroof, rearview camera, Hyundai's BlueLink telematics, proximity key with pushbutton start, automatic headlights and LED tail lights.
Elantra GT five-door ($18,750) uses the 2.0-liter engine and comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmission. Standard features include air conditioning, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, cooled glove compartment, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted controls, 60/40 split folding rear seats, Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity, a 6-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability, auxiliary jack and iPod/USB port; fog lights, rear window wiper, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Safety features on all 2014 Hyundai Elantra models include front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, hill-start assist, stability control and traction control. A rearview camera is optional on the SE and standard for the Limited and Sport trims. The Blue Link emergency telematics system is standard on the Limited trim and provides services such as emergency assistance and theft recovery.