Hyundai Elantra Road Test

First Drive
2017 Hyundai Elantra Aims to Be Roomier and More Refined
This compact car grows up, offering advanced safety features
Overview
Often relegated to "first new car" status in many buyer's minds, the current crop of new compact sedans strives to be more mature and grown-up. The redesigned Hyundai Elantra joins a graduating class of newly designed competitors, including the Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, that aim to feel more substantial and upscale--regardless of their size.

At first glance, it's easy to confuse the 2017 Hyundai Elantra for Hyundai's midsized Sonata sedan. While the Elantra retains a class-standard 106-inch wheelbase, somehow Hyundai eked out two more inches of rear-seat leg room. Cabin space feels much like a midsized sedan from a decade ago, rather than a cramped compact car. The open and airy feeling inside is helped by windows that seem slightly larger than the previous Elantra, as well as a dashboard design that avoids the enveloping, cockpit-like feeling found in many rivals.

One of our complaints about the outgoing Elantra (2011-2016) is that its fuel economy of 29 mpg overall had fallen behind competitors, especially the super-efficient Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla. New engines aim to regain that lost ground.
Impressions
Most Elantras have a new 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Hyundai eschews using a continuously variable transmission (CVT); increasingly popular, these very efficient transmissions are found on the Civic and Corolla, among others. Instead, Hyundai prefers to stick with a six-speed automatic as the Elantra's core gearbox. While conventional automatics typically feel more natural when accelerating than CVTs, we'll see if this choice forces a trade-off with fuel economy. Efficiency-minded buyers can opt for the Eco model, which comes with a small-displacement 128-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.

As expected from a newly introduced car, advanced safety equipment is added to the options list. Blind-spot detection is available on base trim SE, while the top-trim Limited offers forward-collision warning with automatic braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane assist, and adaptive cruise control. The car comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

CR's Take
Previous Elantras were fairly noisy inside, and their generally compliant ride suffered from the occasional rubbery jiggle. Thicker window glass, added firewall sealing, and extra foam insulation aim to quell the racket. While the rear suspension remains a torsion beam design, as opposed to a more expensive (and typically better performing) independent set-up, changes in geometry aim to improve the ride.

Overall, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra appears to be a solid step ahead for the automaker's compact sedan. Since Hyundai has built much of its reputation on providing value. The 2017 model starts at $17,150 which is $100 cheaper than the 2016 price.

We just took delivery of our Elantra SE which rang in at $20,090, and will be piling on the miles in the coming weeks.

New Car Reliability Prediction

Based on the latest survey, we expect reliability of new models will be average

Warranty

All cars come with basic warranty coverage, also known as a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This protects consumers against unexpected problems with non-wear items. Powertrain warranty protects against engine and transmission troubles. Rust through, or corrosion warranty, covers rust to non-damaged components. Roadside aid provides on-location assistance in case of a breakdown and may include limited towing services.

Extended warranties provide peace of mind. Owners of models known to have worse-than-average predicted reliability can mitigate risks with an extended warranty. Generally, we recommend buying a model with better-than-average reliability and skipping this expensive add on. If you do buy an extended warranty, it is key to read the small print to understand what is covered and where you can bring the car for repairs.

Basic (years/miles)
5/60

Powertrain (years/miles)
10/100

Rust through (years/miles)
7/unlimited

Roadside aid (years/miles)
5/unlimited