Hyundai redesigned the Elantra for 2017, and the result is one of the most well-rounded compact sedans on the US market.
What is it?
The redesigned 2017 Elantra hit dealers early in 2016. The Elantra’s compact dimensions keep the overall length to less than 180 inches, but its total EPA interior volume of 110.2 cubic feet classifies it as a mid-sized sedan.
The Elantra joins the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla as being mid-sized, while the Ford Focus and Mazda3 are compacts, though the Mazda misses being mid-sized by only 1.3 cubic feet. Despite its EPA classification as mid-sized, the Elantra is pitched by Hyundai into the compact-sedan market.
Pricing and trims
The entry point for Elantras is just less than $18K – $17,985, including the $835 destination charge. That’s for the least expensive SE trim, which includes a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. You’d add $1,000 to the SE for the automatic.
Next in the Elantra line is the Eco, which including destination comes in $21,485. The Elantra Eco employs a 1.4-liter engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic, which help the Eco hit the magic 40-mpg EPA highway rating, beating the 2.0-liter/automatic combo by three mpg.
Top of the range is our test car, the Elantra Limited. Limiteds have the SE’s 2.0-liter engine, and they come only with the six-speed automatic.
The Limited’s $4,200 premium over a comparable SE includes tail lights and front running lights lit by LEDs. There’s also leather seating, hands-free smart trunk and heated front seats.
The Limited also includes dual automatic temperature control, and above that is an upgraded seven-inch infotainment screen that incorporates Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
The tested Elantra Limited included the $2,500 Tech Package for Limited, which increases the screen to eight inches and incorporates the Infinity audio system and Harman’s Clari-fi music restoration technology. The Tech Package also includes a 4.2-inch screen between the gauges, a power sunroof and an automatically dimming mirror with HomeLink. This package’s neatest luxury touch are the heated rear seats.
This Elantra Limited also had the $1,900 Ultimate Package for Limited, which you cannot get without first ticking the Tech Package box. The Ultimate Package includes an array of safety features:
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection
- Smart Cruise Control (SCC)
- Lane Keep Assist (LKAS)
- Lane Departure Warning
- HID Headlights with Dynamic Bending Light
- Automatic High Beam Assist
The Ultimate Package also includes an Integrated Memory System (IMS) for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors.
The total for our loaded Elantra Limited was $27,585. You could still add accessories from Hyundai, like the $100 Reversible Cargo Tray or $30 First Aid Kit.
Correctly equipped, the 2017 Elantra Limited gets top scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its crash performance and active safety features, making it one of the safest cars you can buy. But as mentioned above, this comes at a fairly steep price.
It’s frustrating that Hyundai limits its active safety features to the Limited, and only when the Limited is equipped with two expensive option packages. The SE and Eco trims are excluded from the Elantra’s active safety entirely.
This means that for all the Elantra’s goodness, it could be a dealbreaker that the features that could save lives are available to only a small slice of Elantra buyers – especially when Honda offers active safety equipment on all Civic trims, without being grouped with unrelated luxury items.
In the extremely competitive compact-car market, it’s unlikely that Hyundai will be able to continue offering active safety as a pricey boutique item. We’d like to see this change sooner rather than later.
The “Nu” 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle-engine produces 147 horsepower, and while it stops short of giving the Elantra a sporty vibe, this engine feels strong enough to keep the Elantra feeling nimble. The Elantra’s initial throttle response is pleasingly direct, which is in sharp contrast with the laggy feeling of the last Civic Touring we tested.
The Elantra Limited’s standard six-speed automatic transmission is also pleasing. Geared transmissions avoid the rubber-band response of some competitive CVTs, and the Eco and Sport modes behave predictably – Eco dampens acceleration to where it feels like you’ve added a passenger or two, while Sport further sharpens the Elantra’s forward bearing.
Ride and handling
As with the Elantra’s engine and transmission, its suspension feels friendly and flexible. Ride motions and body lean are well-controlled, and overall, the tested Elantra Limited felt comfortable and collected.
The Elantra Limited’s heated front leather seats are terrific. There’s ample side bolstering, and you sit high in the interior, with excellent visibility all around.
Taller drivers will find a lower cushion that tips up in front for plenty of thigh support.
Despite the slope of the C-pillar, the Elantra’s rear seat is comfortable for six-footers. A legroom measurement of 35.7 inches isn’t anything to shout about, but it all feels roomy enough.
One odd quirk was the pointy rear door – you’ll be noting it in a sidelong glance when you pull it open. This pic also shows a place where we’d like some improvement in the finish – the plastic on the door panels seemed firmly economy-grade.
The Elantra’s 14.4-cubic-foot trunk is broad and deep, though the shallow opening is typical for sedans with fastback rear windows.
There’s an actual spare tire under the trunk floor, and there’s enough room around it for small items.
Infotainment and controls
The Elantra’s instrument panel is the opposite of the Toyota Corolla’s – where the Corolla’s is high-mounted and massive, the Elantra’s is sculpted low for a clear view ahead.
The eight-inch screen that comes with the Limited’s Tech Package is clear and bright, and it was handy to split the display into different interfaces. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connected with our respective phones with ease. And, the Infinity stereo’s eight speakers sounded deep and rich.
The consistent excellence Hyundai has achieved with the latest Elantra is admirable. Where the Corolla can feel disconcertingly bland, and the Civic can seem hesitant and overstyled, the Elantra works with deceptive simplicity, where it makes it look easy to be a well-rounded compact car.
One the other hand, buyers prioritizing safety might not be able to afford the $27K+ retail price Hyundai charges for the Elantra Limited and two required option packages that make this car eligible for active safety features.
Besides the obvious safety benefits, consider that most new cars (in fact all of them by 2022) will have active safety as standard when it’s time to trade in today’s Elantra. Cars that lack active safety will be outside the mainstream, and their resale values will likely reflect that.
So it is essential that Hyundai put its good thinking into offering active safety to a broader slice of Elantra buyers, as Honda has done with the Civic. The rest of the Elantra is too good to be passed over because of a technicality.
2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited
Base price: $22,350
Price as tested, $27,585, including $835 destination charge
Tech Package for Limited: $2,500
Navigation with 8-inch touchscreen
Infinity Premium Audio with 8 speakers
Clari-fi Music Restoration Technology
4.2-inch Color Instrument Cluster Display
Power Tilt-And-Slide Sunroof
Heated Rear Seats
Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror with HomeLink and Compass
Ultimate Package for Limited: $1,900
HID Headlights with Dynamic Bending Light
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Pedestrian Detection
Smart Cruise Control (SCC)
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Keep Assist (LKAS)
Integrated Memory System (IMS) for Driver’s Seat and Exterior Mirrors
Automatic High Beam Assist
- Comfortable and roomy interior
- Pleasant handling
- Attractive styling
- Limited availability of active safety equipment
- Generic door-panel plastic finish