Hyundai Elantra — A stylish compact

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

This is the best of times for compact car shoppers. Never have there been so many good products with technology and features that were only available for cars far above this class just a few short years ago. And this may be the worst of times for compact car shoppers because manufacturers are charging — big time — for these desirable options sending the price of a small family sedan soaring toward 30 grand territory.

Fortunately the cautious shopper can still purchase a new ride but sans a lot of the good stuff.

And so it is with the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra because it can be loaded up with a wide array of automotive advancements while at the same time offering a reasonably equipped base version at an affordable price. In its base SE form it goes out the door for $17,985 including destination charge with the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine found in the top-level trim, but with a six-speed manual transmission.

The SE provides you with 15-inch wheels, air conditioning, full power accessories, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and CD player, keyless entry; and fuel economy measured at 26 mpg city, 36 highway and 29 overall.

But if you want to take the new Elantra to its Limited trim level extreme with all the good stuff you will have to fork over nearly 28 grand. Base price on the Limited is $23,185, which brings a comprehensive array of features, but to take full advantage of Hyundai's generosity in moving most of its advanced features down to the compact segment buyer, you will have to pay $2,500 for the Tech Package and $1,500 for the Ultimate Package.

Upscale standard features on the Limited include push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, three-stage heated front seats, rearview camera, plenty of safety equipment and hands free trunk access. And if you can afford it, (and we do recommend the options) here's what you get in the Tech Package — Navigation with eight-inch touchscreen, Infinity premium audio with eight speakers, Clari-fi music restoration technology, 4.2-inch TFT instrument cluster display, power sunroof, heated rear seats, and auto dimming rearview mirror. The Ultimate Package includes high-intensity discharge headlights with dynamic bending light, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, lane keep assist, and an integrated memory system for the driver's seat and outside mirrors.

Hyundai has pushed the new Elantra into a more mature styling posture for 2017 featuring crisp lines and near-perfect proportions; more conservative and refined. And the hexagonal grille that defines most of Hyundai's new products fits well.

The attractive styling touches are carried over to the interior as well with an upscale look highlighted by quality materials. At the same time we found the Elantra very user friendly with actual dials and buttons for the audio and climate system. Imagine if you will a 2017 sedan with actual tuning and volume knobs? How last decade — and how convenient!

We found the power front seats supportive, and there is near-mid-sized sedan room for rear-seat passengers. The trunk has a very useable 14.4 cubic feet of space and the rear seats fold down for cargo hauling.

The weak point in this well-done car is its standard 2.0-liter engine, which makes a just-adequate 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque delivered through a six-speed automatic. Elantra’s okay performance, 0-to-60 has been measured at 8.9 seconds — slow for the segment — with a quarter mile time of 16.7 seconds at 85 mph. Gas mileage is also on the average side measured at 28 mpg city, 37 highway and 32 overall with the automatic transmission. The Elantra does have some bragging rights — it stops from 60 mph in a very short 117 feet. That's hard to beat in the compact class.

Hyundai also sells an Elantra Eco that comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 128 horsepower and a 156 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch automated transmission with select drive mode — normal, Eco or Sport which gives the Turbo plenty of go. Another claim to fame is better fuel economy measured at 32/40/35 and our favorite safety feature — Blind Spot Detection with rear Cross-traffic Alert. Really, lots of good stuff for only $21,610 including delivery.

We found performance satisfactory and we never encountered a situation that had us in need of more power. We found the ride quality excellent and the interior commendably quiet at highway speeds. Taking turns too fast is not a problem because the Elantra displayed a reasonable amount of stability and road-holding prowess on a usual back-road "test track."

Base price: $17,985; as driven, $27,710
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 147 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 132 pound-feet @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 179.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,000 pounds
Turning circle: 34.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 14.4 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 28 city, 37 highway, 32 combined
0-60: 8.9 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda Civic, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze

The Good
• New stylishly conservative design
• Well-done interior
• Easy-to-use controls with real knobs
• Quiet, composed ride

The Bad
• Gas mileage below average

The Ugly
• Underwhelming performance