FIRST IMPRESSION: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited

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A 2017 Elantra Limited has arrived today for review, and we’re itching to dig in to this newly redesigned volume leader for Hyundai.

This redesigned Elantra is billed as a 2017 model, and the first of them hit Hyundai dealers in January 2016.

Elantras are Hyundai’s cannon fodder against the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda3 and all the other sedans vying for the compact buyer’s dollar.

The Elantra’s length grew an eighth of an inch over the ’16 model, but the ’17’s 179.9-inch measurement still stays under the city-parking-friendly 180-inch line.

Back in the ’90s, that line was at 175 inches for compact sedans, but cars have grown since then. In fact, the Elantra joins the Civic and Corolla in having more than 110 cubic feet of interior and cargo space, and so all three are classified as mid-sized sedans.


The open-grilled front end reflects the current Hyundai look, and it’s very different from the smooth snouts that are looking so modern on Teslas these days.


Elantras come in three trim levels – SE, Eco and Limited – and the updated base prices as of May 2016 range from $17,150 for the base SE to $22,350 for the Limited.

Related: Road Trip – 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco


The tester has the Tech Package, which is required with the Ultimate Package, which bundles Hyundai’s active safety features together with integrated memory settings for the seats and mirrors. The latter is a luxury feature that differently-sized couples who share the same car will like at any price.


Although it is a shame that this next-year Hyundai relies on old-school premium pricing for its safety features.

Forcing the purchase of the Tech and Ultimate packages is the opposite of how Honda handles active safety in the Civic, where it’s a simpler bundle that’s available on the lowest trim level.


On the other hand, the new Elantra is quite attractive from certain angles. The long and wild sweeps of body contour have given way to a more linear look, though the ducktail rear is a neat bit of flair.


As a city driver, I wince when I see a test car pull up with yet another fastback roof, as it usually means that rear visibility will be lost in C-pillar’s rake…


…but the Elantra’s over-the-shoulder view is remarkably clear. The 2016 Civic feels more enclosed by comparison.


Headlights are an ever-important expression of a brand’s personality, and the Elantra’s squint reflects the intentness Hyundai sought to imbue.


The “Nu” 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is an Atkinson cycle engine, which means delaying the compression phase in the combustion chamber to maximize the expansion phase. It cranks out a healthy 147 horsepower with a notably high compression ratio of 12.5 – usually that number is 10 or below.


This Limited’s interior coloring is all-black, which is lightened a bit by an array of shiny accents.


The grand swoops of the previous Elantra’s instrument panel are replaced by the linear shapes like those of the exterior. It’s right in line with other Hyundais, particularly the recently refreshed Sonata.


The door panels reinforce the linear emphasis with boxy shapes and straight lines.


The leather seats in this Limited are heated but not cooled. The Tech package adds heaters for the rear seats.


We look forward to putting miles on this Elantra to get a true sense of what Hyundai has wrought with the redesign. In the meantime, that blue Fiat Spider in the neighborhood is always welcome to photobomb our shooting.


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