Small Hyundai is big on value.
Some consumers are understandably shocked when they price a new vehicle. The average cost of a new car today is about $32,000, well beyond the affordability level for not a few shoppers. Still, that figure is just an average as there are cars that are priced well below and well above that number. Small cars, including compact sedans, are where much value can be found.
The compact segment has been getting a lot of attention lately and for several reasons. First, today’s compacts are about the size of midsize sedans that were built at the turn of the millennium. Second, such vehicles typically offer excellent fuel economy, with 40 mpg on the highway and beyond achievable. Third, a well-equipped compact can be had for about $25,000, with base prices starting around $17,000. Many amenities found in larger vehicles, including navigation systems, rear view cameras, premium audio systems and heated seats are available in this segment too.
2015 Hyundai Elantra
One of the better values among small cars is the Hyundai Elantra. I recently had a week with a 2014 edition, but instead of concentrating on that model, I thought we’d look at the current 2015 edition. Not that the 2014 model shouldn’t be considered if you buy one before the calendar year runs out — many shoppers want choices and there are far more 2015s available right now.
The Hyundai Elantra is one of the older model names from this Korean manufacturer. First introduced stateside in the early 1990s, the Elantra has gone through several generational changes since. The current iteration was introduced in 2011, so that means we’re coming toward the end of the fifth generation. Happily for new car shoppers, the current Elantra is still very relevant and should be considered if you’re shopping for a new car.
Fluidic Sculpture Design Language
There is something very familiar with the Elantra and that would be its “fluidic sculpture” outline, Hyundai’s current design language. The Sonata was the first model to introduce the look and nearly every Hyundai vehicle since has followed.
Some, including the Sonata and Genesis, have gone on to an updated version of the design, what brings in a distinctive fascia, strong profile lines, a sweeping roof line and a stylish rear deck. It makes for a higher end look, countering the traditional utilitarian manner this segment has long been known for. The Elantra comes equipped with standard 15-inch steel wheels; 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels are also available.
Inside, the high end look continues, highlighted by a sculptured center console, sporty instrumentation and plush materials. With a starting price of $17,250, this model offers very good value.
Speaking of value, Hyundai typically equips its vehicles better than the competition. Its pricing structure is near or slightly below what the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra charge, with more “extras” standard.
Indeed, look at the base model and you get keyless entry, premium cloth seats, power windows, power door locks, heated side mirrors, air conditioning, a tilt and telescopic steering column, cruise control, center storage with a tray, front map lights with sunglass holder, a cargo area light, two 12-volt outlets and a 6-speaker audio system.
Take the top-of-the-line Limited edition and your Elantra is equipped with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, a power driver’s seat, illuminated vanity mirrors, aluminum entrance sills for the front doors, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, BlueLink telematics, heated front seats and an upgraded audio system.
Hyundai offers several package upgrades to enhance each model. The SE Popular Equipment Package brings in alloy wheels, fog lights, a touchscreen display, automatic headlamps, Bluetooth connectivity and illuminated vanity mirrors. The Style Package builds on the base package to deliver a tilt and slide sunroof, leather interior touches, projector beam headlamps with LED accents, chrome trim and black interior cloth.
For the Limited, choose the Ultimate Package and you get a navigation system with a 7-inch screen, Pandora Internet Radio, a 360-watt audio system, dual climate control and push button start. The Tech Package, available with the Sport, brings in the same amenities as the Ultimate Package and adds Hyundai’s Blue Link infotainment package.
Engines and Transmissions
Hyundai equips the base Elantra with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and pairs it with a 6-speed manual transmission. Add $1,000 to the base SE edition’s price and you get an automatic transmission. The Elantra Sport ($21,600) also comes with a manual transmission and is powered by a 2.0-liter engine. Get the automatic and you’ll pay an extra $1,000. The top-of-the-line Hyundai Elantra Limited is priced from $21,700 and is powered by the smaller engine and paired with the automatic transmission.
The standard engine is rated at 145 horsepower and 130 foot-pounds of torque. The Sport edition is rated at 173 horsepower and 164 foot-pounds of torque. Fuel economy comes in at 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the base engine paired with an automatic transmission. The Sport edition achieves 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway or 35 mpg on the highway with the automatic.
As equipped, the Hyundai Elantra Limited came with the smaller of the two four-cylinder engines. The base engine provides sufficient performance, although there were times when extra power would have been helpful, especially on the highway.
The Elantra offers good off the mark acceleration, average for the segment handling, and decent braking. For better handling and feel, the Sport brings in a larger front stabilizer bar and sport-tuned suspension. All models offer independent front suspension and a rear torsion axle suspension.
The driver’s seat is comfortable, fully supportive and all controls are within easy reach. Thankfully, there was very little drama with the telematics as the screen is easy to comprehend with knobs and switches at the ready. The rear seat offers excellent room for two and very good room for three. If you are looking at the Elantra as a family sedan and your children are young, you should be satisfied with what it offers.
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ award. There is no reason why the current model won’t receive the same rating.
You should also know that Hyundai offers this model in coupe and GT hatchback body styles, one of just a few manufacturers with several choices in this segment.
Hyundai Elantra photos courtesy of Auto Trends Magazine.