2014 Hyundai Elantra Review
How has Hyundai’s formula stood up against increasing competition over the past few years?
When it was introduced, Hyundai went for a lower, more angular aesthetic to challenge the status quo amongst compact sedans. When you look at it, you will notice how Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” design language has been translated very nicely onto the Elantra. The result is a compact that still is distinguished and true to its mission – a sharp looking and handsome vehicle designed for optimal efficiency.
This SE example came with the Preferred package upgrade, including a set of handsome sixteen-inch alloy rims, Hankook Optimo tires and fog lamps. It just makes the Elantra a truly nice little number to admire – even from a distance.
Inside, the Fluidic Sculpture theme continued. Instrumentation was easy to read and the controls were right where they need them to be. The quality of materials and touch points are bit better than expected in the Elantra. For 2014, the SE Preferred package adds a TFT screen for the infotainment system and the backup camera. Though you get SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity with this package, you still need to get the $35 two-prong connector for your iPod or iPhone.
The Elantra’s seats were more in tune with the driver. For the driver and front passenger, there is enough bolstering to keep you in the seatback. The cushions were a bit flat, but wide enough for most drivers. To compensate, the SE’s cloth upholstery was comfortable enough to keep you alert. There is superb legroom both front and back. Tall passengers will lose headroom with the angular coupe-like roofline. Open up the wide lid of the trunk and you get a massive space to throw two week’s of clothes and goodies for a nice, long ride.
Under the hood is Hyundai’s 1.8liter DOHC 16-valve Gas Direct Injection (GDI) engine. With 148 horsepower on tap, it can do the job – and quite well. If you really need more power, the new Sport sedan offers a 2.0liter version good for 173 horsepower. A six-speed automatic gearbox sends power down to the front wheels. Shifting feels normal, but can take some time to upshift when driving full throttle onto the highway.
Ride quality was very good, even on rough surfaces. It handled exceptionally well as it corners and tracks like a sports coupe, despite a bit of roll on extreme curves. There was a strange mix of numbness and responsiveness in the steering. Perhaps it is because of the electric steering system on the Elantra – something of the norm these days. To make things more interesting, you can adjust the weight of the steering feel. Needless to say, this did not help the steering setup at all. Though, on-center feel is spot on. Braking was good, but not with a slight lag at times. It stops extremely well in panic situations, but normal braking exposed the slight lag.
The flip side to the entire fuel consumption picture is the small fuel tank that is on board. Yes, compacts are supposed to have small tanks, but I consider 12.8 gallons quite small for any sized car. However, the Elantra did turn an average of 33.0MPG with a mix of city and highway driving.
Pricing for a basic Elantra SE sedan starts at $18,010 with the standard manual gearbox. Our Preferred package tester came with a sticker price of $20,110. If you upgrade, you have plenty to choose from. If you stick with the sedan, you can choose the luxurious Limited or the more powerful Sport. The Elantra also comes in a two-door coupe and the GT five-door hatchback.
The Elantra is a strong choice in an increasingly competitive market segment. As a result, the Elantra currently leads all models within Hyundai in sales. This shift in model leadership signals a sea change in the marketplace as it veers away from mid-size sedans, such as the Sonata, for smaller, more fuel efficient products.
If you shop in the compact segment, the Elantra is truly a solid choice.
**If you are interested in a Hyundai Elantra, log onto CarSoup.com to find out what is available on sale. **
All Photos © Hyundai Motor America