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