2021 Hyundai Elantra Review

2021 Hyundai Elantra - The sleeker 2021 Elantra Limited confirms Hyundai’s faith in sedan business


The sleeker 2021 Elantra Limited confirms Hyundai's faith in sedan business

2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Price: $25,450

Pros-New rakish styling. Roomier. Nicer interior. Decent performance. Supple ride. Noteworthy fuel economy. Technical features.

Cons-Average driving excitement. Low steering feedback. Stiff manual wheel adjustment control.    

Bottom Line-A boldly styled, solid value mid-size sedan.

Hyundai is following the old established Detroit selling theme by making its popular Elantra sedan longer, lower and wider. It's also given the car more standard features and a greater upscale presence. It seems that Hyundai doesn't feel everyone wants an SUV.

A veteran auto salesman once told me that most people will buy a car largely because it looks good, so the new revamped Elantra should score here. It's 2.2 inches longer, 1 inch wider and  nearly an inch lower. It rides on a wheelbase stretched nearly an inch. All that may not seem like a lot, but the new dimensions provide more rear legroom and shoulder room and help the new Elantra look racier, with more road presence. Most key interior dimensions have increased, but some may object to the lower seating position caused by lowering seat height.

There's a long, sloping hood that helps provide a racy appearance, and a lower roofline doesn't affect good headroom in the roomy rear-seat area.  Also, a new wide cascading grille almost looks copied from the zoomy 620-horsepower Ferrari 599 model. An arrow-like line along the body side seems a bit superfluous, as if the Elantra stylists got carried away a bit.

The four-door, front-drive 2021 Elantra comes in a variety of models. They range from a super-economy hybrid to a faster turbocharged version and cost from $19,650 to $28,450. I tested the $28,450 Elantra Limited with the same 2-liter 147-horsepower dual overhead camshaft four-cylinder with continuous variable valve timing Hyundai has used for years. However, it's tuned the engine to deliver better fuel economy.

Estimated numbers for my test car were 31 miles per gallon in the city and 41 on highways.I averaged 33 miles per gallon but could have done better as most driving was in stop-go suburban traffic, with 30 miles of rather aggressive 65-70 m.p.h. cruising.

The turbocharged Elantra is the way to go if extra performance is wanted. But the smooth, quiet, 147-horsepower engine, coupled to the car's well-developed CVT automatic transmission, is satisfactory even during freeway merges and 65-75 mph passing maneuvers.

Wide doors with large storage pockets allow quick entry to the quiet, upscale aircraft-style front-seat area. It has a new instrument panel design with nifty digital gauges and an angled touchscreen that I found easy to use from the power driver's seat (The front passenger seat adjustment is manual.). Clearly marked manual dashboard controls for such things as climate settings and heated front seats also are easy to use. However, the fairly long front passenger grab handle near the console looks rather out of place, as if it's something you'd find in that Ferrari 699.

The new Elantra is well-equipped. For instance, it has pushbutton start, easily used touchscreen, dual automatic temperature control, rear view camera , single 12V and dual USB ports, wireless charging pad, dynamic voice recognition and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. There's a sunroof with a sliding shade and a Bose premium audio system with eight speakers.

The trunk is roomy, and rear seat backs flip forward and sit flat for more cargo area. The power rear hatch opens quickly, but lacks an interior pull down handle or indented area to close it without getting hands dirty on outside sheet metal.

A new, lighter stiffer platform allows the 2021 Elantra weigh less, have better fuel economy and to be stronger, besides allowing engineers to lower the car's center of gravity for more agile handling.The Elantra Limited is no sports sedan, but it swept through curves with confidence in both the "Normal" and "Sport" driving modes, controlled by a console button. The ride is a little firm but supple in Normal mode and stiffens a bit in Sport mode Sport mode also increases engine revs for quicker acceleration and tightens the steering.

Still, I didn't notice any major difference between Normal and Sport modes during normal Chicago-area driving and drove in Normal mode most of the time. The brake pedal has a firm, linear feel and controls a four-wheel disc brake setup.

However, although quick, the steering provides low feedback, which diminishes the driving experience. Also, the steering column adjustment handle is too stiff to operate easily.

Safety features include forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian protection, cyclist detection, parking distance warning in reverse gear, parking collision avoidance assist also when in reverse, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, smart cruise control with stop-and-go, lane keeping and lane following assists and highway driving assist. Smart  cruise control is optional.

The heavy hood is held up with a prop rod and opens to reveal a nicely designed engine compartment with the engine oil level dipstick placed squarely in front so a driver can easily reach it. With the Elantra's good reliability record and 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the oil level is the only thing Hyundai owners may generally check.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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