Those looking for an affordable fun to drive small sedan often default to Honda’s Civic. The Hyundai Elantra Sport offers those buyers a choice.
What is it?
Hyundai’s Elantra comes in many different types and flavors. The five-seat compact sedan is our focus today.
Pricing and trims
The base Elantra SE sedan starts at just under $22K. There are four additional trims including SEL, Value Edition, Eco, Limited and Sport. Our test vehicle was a Sport with the added Premium Package and carpeted floor mats. The as-tested price was $26,915. Based on our comparison pricing of the features the Elantra Sport we tested had, an equivalent Civic would be priced between $26K and $28K.
Performance Ride And Handling
The Elantra Sport has a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with a strong 195 ft-lbs of torque. It holds up well in comparison to the 1.5-liter turbo in the Civic.
The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The two work together well and the Elantra feels competent in all normal driving situations. Tapping the drive mode button on the shifter console allows the driver to select Sport mode for more excitement. If you are not a fan of CVT transmissions like that found in the Civic, but do want an automatic, the Elantra’s 7-speed geared DCT is a great option to consider. In our testing, the DCT worked great. Shifts seem logical, quick and they are mostly out of your way. Take control of the gears if you like using the paddle shifters or gear shift lever.
The Elantra Sport handles very well, particularly in spirited driving. On the highway, it feels much more refined than most sedans in its price range. The low profile all-season sport tires of our Elantra Sport didn’t ruin the ride quality either.
With 95.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, the Elantra sedan edges out the Civic Sedan’s 95 cu ft. The leather heated seats in our tester had manual adjustment but were easy to make comfortable. Some other trims offer power adjustment.
The rear seats offer plenty of room for occasional adult passengers and more than enough for children. The split and fold function adds cargo options.
Although the Elantra is slightly larger in the passenger area than Civic its 14.4 cu ft trunk is a bit smaller than the Civic’s 15.1 cu ft volume. Our favorite part of the trunk was the compact spare under the floor. Those looking for more space for cargo should consider the Elantra GT hatchback line.
Infotainment and controls
Hyundai offers one of the simplest to use infotainment systems in the business. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are included on the Elantra Sport.
All of the menus are logically arranged, and the screen of our Sport with Premium Package was 8 inches in size. Not bad for the price point, but the $27K Subaru Legacy we tested last week had triple the screen size. The infotainment arms race continues, and screen sizes are getting larger by the day. Honda won’t sell you a Civic with a tuner knob. Every Elantra has one.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Elantra sedan its highest possible rating, the Top Safety Pick Plus. The Honda Civic, by contrast, is not a Top Safety Pick (2019 models were tested). Part of that IIHS rating for the Elantra was based on the LED headlights, which our test model did have.
Those shoppers looking for a fun to drive affordable sedan know that the Civic line defines that class of cars. However, the Hyundai Elantra line also offers multiple trims that are very enjoyable on the road. The Elantra also offers a higher safety rating, geared transmission, and a tuner knob. The two are almost identical in size and price. However, Hyundai has a much longer 10-year drivetrain and five-year comprehensive warranty backing up its Elantra and has been earning top scores in virtually every quality ranking lately. Those shoppers who may have defaulted to the iconic Civic should be sure to also give the Elantra a look.
Note: Some images show other trims. Vehicle Tested Was a 2019 MY Car. Pricing is mentioned is 2020.