Looks like 2017 is already here, at least at Hyundai.
My test car was a sparkling white 2017 Elantra Limited, the compact sedan that improves with each iteration. One thing that hasn’t changed is its stellar looks. Hyundai and its cousin Kia have been leading the styling charge for mainstream car buyers for several years now.
This new Elantra is another sharp looker with a bit of swept-back styling that looks more like a fastback than your typical compact sedan.
Another thing that doesn’t change (and this too is good), is excellent gas mileage. The Elantra is rated 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. I got 32.1 mpg in a 50-50 mix of city and highway driving.
Some might wonder if that’s because the new Elantra is made of cardboard and powered by a lawnmower engine. No, there’s lightweight high-tensile steel to keep the four-door at 2,811 lbs. and there’s a 2.0-liter I4 under the hood providing 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque.
Certainly that’s not monstrous power, but it is sufficient and with Hyundai’s smooth 6-speed automatic seems well suited to everyday driving. The previous Elantra I’d driven had a 1.8-liter I4 of similar power, but this one gave the car steadier pull from a stop. Plus Hyundai includes Drive Mode Select, a button that allows you to choose between Normal, Sport and Eco. You won’t need Eco to extend fuel mileage as I rarely used it and still got excellent mileage.
Sport though gives the car more oomph from a start and holds each gear a tad longer to increase torque and quickness off the line, compared with Normal mode. I found myself pressing the button when needing to blend into traffic or switch lanes, but otherwise Normal mode was fine.
Note too that steering effort increases in Sport mode. That gives the car a decidedly sportier feel with a more responsive wheel. If you tire of the extra effort though, just tap the button and the Elantra is back to Normal. Handling there is average compact car stuff, decent, but not sporty at all. There is slight body lean in tight cornering, exactly what you’d expect in a value-priced compact.
Ride is decent too as the car’s wheelbase expands to 106.3 inches. That’s sort of the magic number for good ride. Elantra’s ride feels less refined than some of its competitors, a bit stiffer over severe bumps. Likely its rear torsion beam suspension is responsible as many cars have moved to multi-link rear suspensions to improve ride.
There’s also more road noise (not excessive) than in some like-sized compacts. A bit more sound deadening material would likely solve that. Or maybe these 17-inch tires feature a noisier tread pattern. It has been known to happen.
Braking is fine and stability and traction control are standard.
Inside, the value adds up quickly for the Limited, which starts at $22,350.
This one had a black interior with textured dash and leather seat surfaces. Trim is matte silver on the dash, stack’s face and around the shifter and steering wheel hub. Buttons look and feel metallic too.
In addition to the leather, the front seats are heated (3 levels) and the driver’s seat is powered, including a lumbar adjustment. Few compacts come with leather, heat and power standard.
Other standard features include dual automatic climate controls, Blue Link Connected Car System that will get you emergency help and a 7-inch touchscreen. There are even lighted exterior door handles.
The test car added two packages, Tech and Ultimate, that push the car up to $27,710, including $835 delivery fee, still a high-value price as most cars now retail closer to $34,000. Yet these packages upgrade the touchscreen to an 8-incher, the stereo to an Infinity system with 8 speakers and a subwoofer, a nicer color instrument cluster, heated rear seats, a HomeLink system and sunroof.
The Ultimate package brings HID headlights that bend their beams around corners as you drive. There’s also smart cruise control and lane departure warning system (easily turned off for city driving) and a two-setting driver’s seat memory system. Hyundai also includes an automatic braking system that will help stop the car if a pedestrian steps in front of it.
I like the car’s interior. The seats are well formed and comfortable and it’s roomy inside, close to mid-size car space so four adults fit comfortably. The Elantra grew by nearly an inch in length and width for 2017.
The dash is well laid out and the touchscreen easy to see and use. I also like that the driver’s seat powers back once the ignition has been turned off. That makes for an easier exit. Audio buttons are on the small side, but not hard to use and the climate controls are easy to adjust.
The trunk is reasonably sized at 14.4 cubic feet, plus the rear seats split and fold down to increase cargo room. Elantra also features trunk and fuel-door releases next to the driver’s seat, plus push-button start.
Overall value is high in the Limited, which is pretty spiffy. Yet if you need a handsome solid car at a lower price point, the SE starts at $17,985 with a six-speed manual transmission. Moving to the automatic pushes the price up $1,000 and, for the record, the automatic gets better gas mileage than the manual.
Elantra is a nice car, well executed and good looking at a value price. If you need a little better ride, the Kia Optima I drove recently comes at about the same price, but has a longer wheelbase that improves the ride. As is, Elantra compares well with Honda’s Civic, Toyota’s Corolla and Ford’s Focus, the leaders in this segment.
FAST STATS: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited
Hits: Sharp looker, excellent mpg, good acceleration in Sport mode and steering firms, lots of goodies at value price, including sunroof, 3-speed heated front seats, heated rear seats, blind-spot warning, satellite radio and power driver’s seat.
Misses: Road noise is a bit louder than in some similar models and ride not as refined.
Made in: Montgomery, Ala.
Engine: 2.0-liter, I4, 147 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/Shiftronic
Weight: 2,811 lbs.
Length: 179.9 in.
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
MPG: 28/37 (EPA)
MPG: 32.1 (tested)
Base Price: $22,350
Invoice: $22,146 (includes delivery)
Tech package (navigation w/8-inch touchscreen, Android and Apple CarPlay, Infinity premium audio system w/8 speakers, subwoofer, 4.2-inch color instrument cluster display, sunroof, heated front and rear seats, auto-dimming mirror, HomeLink, compass), $2,500
Ultimate package (HID headlights w/dynamic bending, automatic emergency brake w/pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, lane keep assist system, memory system for driver’s seat/outside mirrors), $1,900
Carpeted floor mats, $125
Test vehicle: $27,710
Sources: Hyundai, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage