Introduction

Following a 2017 revamp of the Elantra lineup, Hyundai has introduced a new Elantra GT Sport hatchback for the 2018 model year. A brand new Elantra SEL trim level takes the area of the last SE with a Popular Equipment Package. Otherwise, little has changed for 2018.

Offered in sedan and GT hatchback body styles, Elantra is just a serious competitor among compacts, with sharp design, a roomy cabin, and abundant features. Its last major redesign was for the 2014 model year.

Elantra offers three engine choices. Base engine for both body styles is just a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which develops 147 horsepower in the sedan and 162 hp in the GT hatchback. Torque output is 137 or 150 pound-feet, respectively. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, but many Elantras are fitted with a fuel-thrifty 6-speed automatic transmission.

Sport trim levels in sedan and hatchback body styles share a peppy 1.6-liter turbo four, producing 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. As an alternative to manual shift, the turbo can mate with a smooth-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Finally, the Eco sedan gets a 1.4-liter turbo four, coupled to the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Differences involving the sedan and the GT hatchbacks are significant, as both body styles are not really related. Not just does the hatch offer greater cabin space, with increased premium-looking finishes, however the GT Sport’s suspension promises greater control.

Crash-test scores are incomplete. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the sedan only a four-star overall rating, with four stars for both frontal and side impacts. The 2017 hatchback got a five-star rating overall, but four stars in the frontal-impact test. No testing has been done on the 2018 GT hatchback.

For the crash-test program, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Electra sedan a Top Safety Pick+, in relation to Good test scores. Unfortunately, that award applies simply to the most effective Limited trim level, when fitted with advanced-safety options.

An optional suite of safety features includes blind-spot monitoring, active lane control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.

Line up

Elantra 2.0L SE sedan includes the 2.0-liter engine and manual ($16,950) or automatic ($17,950) transmission, 15-inch wheels, six-speaker audio, cloth upholstery, and a 3.5-inch screen. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $885 destination charge.)

Elantra 2.0L SEL sedan ($18,850) gets a computerized transmission, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 16-inch alloy wheels, rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, and Bluetooth. Blind-spot detection is standard. Elantra 2.0L Value Edition sedan ($19,850) posseses an automatic transmission and features from the Limited, including a sunroof an heated front seats.

Elantra 2.0L Limited ($22,100) includes a computerized transmission, chrome trim, leather seating surfaces, BlueLink telematics, and 17-inch wheels. An 8.0-inch infotainment screen with navigation is optional.

Elantra 1.4T Eco sedan ($20,550) is comparable to SEL, but with the 1.4-liter turbo engine, dual-clutch transmission, and smaller (15-inch) wheels to improve fuel economy.

Elantra 1.6T Sport comes with a more potent turbo engine and manual ($21,800) or automatic ($22,900) and is trimmed similar to Limited.

Elantra GT hatchback comes is similar in equipment to SEL sedan, with the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual ($19,350) or automatic ($20,350) transmission; an 8.0-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and rearview camera are standard.

Elantra GT Sport hatch gets the 1.6-liter turbo engine with manual ($23,250) or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission ($24,350), plus a multi-link rear suspension and bigger brakes.

Walkaround

Less daring than past Elantra models, the current version wil attract in either body style. Making use of their shapely sheetmetal, sedans are actually more aerodynamic, although the Euro-styled GT hatchback features a lower, wider stance.

The GT gets a tightened-up version of Hyundai’s large trapezoidal grille, with a mesh pattern. Hatchback daytime running lights change from the sedan’s LED units. Sedans have three taillights flanking an upturned decklid, as the GT tail is more rounded.

Interior

Even although the Elantra is known as a compact, interior dimensions approach midsize. Material quality is low-budget, black plastic.

Most controls and the touchscreen angle toward the driver. Front seats are often good, however the sedan is more comfortable, with better bolstering on the seat cushions. Sport models feature deeper bucket seats, with fabric that maintains a stronger grip.

Back-seat riders get ample head and knee clearance, but seat cushions aren’t as comfortable. Sedan rear seats are on the low side, giving six-footers abundant headroom. Rear legroom can be an inch tighter in a GT hatchback.

Sedans boast 14.4 cubic feet of cargo volume, appropriate for a compact. Cargo space in hatchbacks has grown to 24.9 cubic feet, expanding to 55.4 cubic feet with split seatbacks folded.

Driving Impressions

Ride comfort is a primary attraction. Elantras are quiet, solid, and refined. Non-Sport suspensions absorb quite a few pavement flaws. Only on seriously harsh surfaces does the hatchback’s premium suspension reveal its limitations.

A well-composed ride may be the rule, but handing falls around the middle of the pack. Fitted with light, yet precise, steering, the GT hatchback feels firmly planted on the pavement, if a touch heavy in corners and curves. Sport models get yourself a multi-link independent rear suspension, providing greater body-motion control.

Brake behavior in a Sport sedan didn’t elicit full confidence, as a result of dull pedal feel and significant fading in hard stops.

Sport models are the most enjoyable to drive. Base-engine performance falls in short supply of enthusiastic, however the turbo supplies a peppier experience. Sport models should accelerate to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. Performance sags in the Eco edition.

Elantras are relatively fuel-efficient, if in short supply of class-leading. Most Elantra sedans with the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed automatic are EPA-rated at 28/37 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. SE models, which contain fewer features, are a touch thriftier at 29/38/33 mpg. The Elantra Eco does better still: EPA-rated at 32/40 mpg City/Highway, or 35 mpg Combined. Sport sedans manage only 22/30/25 mpg.

Hatchbacks with automatic are EPA-rated at 24/32 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined. Manual-shift Sport hatchbacks get yourself a 22/29/25 mpg rating.

Summary

The beds base Elantra is spartan but delivers good value. Upper trim levels aren’t quite as value-focused, but have nicer trim. GT hatchbacks promise greater utility and, in Sport form, driving delight. In addition to good infotainment systems, Elantras have an extraordinary warranty.

Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to the report.

Upper models contain more sound-deadening material. Fit and finish is often better in GT models.

 

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