If considering a Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza or other compact sedans, check out Hyundai’s 2021 Elantra before buying.
The all-new Elantra is longer, wider, offers more legroom than the 2020 model, has snazzy coupe-like styling and gets up to 41 EPA estimated highway mpg. It also has the best warranty of most car-makers.
Elantra is offered in SE, SEL, Limited, SEL Hybrid, Limited Hybrid and sporty N Line. We tested the Limited and as the top end version, it was exceptionally equipped with a reasonable sticker price.
Upon slipping into Elantra for the first time your eyes will immediately go to the dual 10.25-inch digital screens. One displays the instrument panel, the other, the infotainment system that gives the appearance of one long display. The latter is packed with an array of neat features including voice recognition, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Blue Link even the ability to select up to 64 different shades of ambient interior lighting. And get this. If you’re tired of listening to music and want to hear something different, Elantra offers five different sounds (and pictorials) that depict Lively Forest (birds chirping); Calm Seas (waves breaking on a beach); Rainy Day (raindrops); Open-air Café (dishes clanking, patrons talking); and Warm Fireplace (wood crackling).
Over on the instrument cluster and when turning on either signal light, a side view camera displays to show if another vehicle is sneaking up on your left or right blind sides. And if checking your phone or gazing elsewhere when the red light changes with a vehicle in front of you, a notice of “Leading vehicle is driving away,” will display on the tachometer side of the gauges.
On the vertical stack below the display are easy to use and view HVAC controls and below them a wireless phone charger. Of course, the display serves the audio, rearview camera and pictorials.
A burly t-handle transmission gear selector takes center stage on the console for Elantra’s smart variable automatic transmission. It’s flanked by a Mode switch for Normal, Sport, Smart. Sport increases rpms by 500 for a bit more spirited performance. And when selecting any of the modes, the speedometer and tachometer change color to represent the mode.
Heated front seats are comfy with some extended under thigh support. Back seats are equally as comfy for two adults with ample legroom, however headroom is a little tight for tall folks.
Back in the trunk that’s rated at 14.2 cubic feet with 44 inches of cargo loading depth, expands by about a third when flipping the rear seat backs resulting in 72 inches of open cargo depth. Beneath the trunk floor is a space saver tire around which some small items can be stowed.
New for 2021 on the Elantra is Hyundai’s Digital Key that allows your smartphone to lock/unlock the car as well as starting the engine by merely holding the smartphone against the driver/passenger door handle.
As for safety features, Elantra Limited came with forward collision avoidance w/pedestrian alert, parking distance warning/reverse, lane keeping assist/lane following assist, blind spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross traffic collision assist, highway driving assist and more.
We were especially appreciative of the rear automatic braking that if sensing an imminent collision with a vehicle or object behind the Elantra, the brakes automatically deploy which is alarming at first, but saves having an accident. This is especially helpful when backing out from a parking space with two large SUVs on either side of you and you can’t see what’s oncoming behind you. The system senses a vehicle or person and immediately applies the brakes. Saves a lot of fender benders or worse.
For highway driving, the auto steer feature uses a computer and sensors to steer the car provided you keep a light hand on the steering wheel. Otherwise, a warning will display on the gauge cluster. I used it on the PA Turnpike and a suburban road and the system worked well keeping the Elantra between the yellow/white lines, as well as on relatively sharp turns.
Elantra Limited came standard with a 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder that develops 147-hp and 132 lb./ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of an impressive 31 city, 41-highway mpg with auto start/stop engine technology. So powered, Elantra was peppy in linear fashion with two adults aboard. The CVT transmission was virtually transparent. It’s one of the better CVT’s on the market.
If you desire more guts, the Elantra N-Line’s 1.6-liter inline turbocharged 4-cylinder cranks out 201-hp and 195-lb/ft and can be had with 6-speed manual transmission, or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters.
Driving wise, Elantra was a smooth, quiet rider on Kumho 17-inch tires. The suspension nicely absorbs road imperfections, pock marks and tar strips.
With a long list of standard features including premium Bose audio, Sirius/XM radio and Blue Link, the only extra cost option was for carpeted floor mats ($155) that took the base price from $25,450 to $26,600 with delivery. So equipped, Elantra offers a lot of content for a sensible price.
Added to this, Elantra buyers get Hyundai’s generous 5 year/60K new vehicle warranty; 10/100K powertrain; 7/unlimited rust protection; 3/36K complimentary maintenance; and 5/unlimited roadside assistance coverage.
Elantra in any form is a compelling and handsome compact sedan. The only way it could be better is if were offered with AWD.