2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited
By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman
Last month, in March of 2016, I tested the 2017 Kia Sportage. This month, in April of 2016, I’m driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. I’m beginning to think that Korea uses a different calendar than we do in the US. No matter, the point is that this new Elantra is ahead of its time, and is a wonderful remake of an already excellent automobile.
Way back in 2004, I bought an Elantra for daughter #2 as she graduated from college and needed her first new car. It was a small, compact car with leather seats and a moonroof, and a few other nice amenities. And it was also affordable, got decent gas mileage, and that 10 year warranty was important, so she’d have no major repair bills to look forward to. The car served her well for 8 years, and we got our money’s worth.
The difference between her Elantra and the new 2017, is night and day. 2011 brought a major remake of the Elantra, with bold styling, larger proportions, stronger performance, and was an excellent car. It could compete with the class leaders like the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Nissan Sentra.
Now for 2017, its sixth generation, the Elantra has again been redesigned, and I like just about everything about it. It is better in every way.
Last year’s styling was edgy, with its bubble wrap-around headlights, and lots of swoopy lines to jazz up the styling. It was different and set itself apart from the competition. It was noticeable in a parking lot. But this year, Hyundai was looking for a more upscale and elegant look as the Elantra moved up into the mid-size category. All the lines were smoothed out a bit, and they succeeded in making this a classy looking car, without looking boring. The running lights resemble Nike swooshes, and the grill is deeper. The headlights look sleeker, and there are fewer crease lines on the sides, yet they kept attractive character lines from front to rear fenders. The rear triple LED taillights are faceted into a pentagonal shape that is pleasing. Viewed from the side, the Elantra has a sleek classic look, instead of the loud brassy look of last year. This 2017 model may not stand out in the parking lot as much as the old model did, but still the overall shape is outstanding.
Standard on the Elantra is a 2.0 liter engine that offers 147 horsepower and 132 ft. lbs. of torque, and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. You can get a manual transmission on the base SE model. Now those numbers won’t give you bragging rights, but the Elantra has surprising zip when driving, especially when you push the Sport button. You get more revs before the transmission changes into a higher gear, and you get more than adequate power to pass on a two lane highway, or scoot away from the stop light. And moving the gear shift lever to the left, so you can change gears yourself will reward the driver with quick shifts, and the ability to hold the car in the power band at the upper end of the rev range. Of course another 25 horsepower would be welcomed, but by no means is the new Elantra a slug. And the upside for this engine is mileage ratings of 28 City, and 37 Highway, and both of those numbers are accurate in real world driving. The SE model gets 1 MPG higher numbers, due to the fact that it weighs less than the Limited model. More on that a bit later.
The Elantra wasn’t designed to be a sport sedan, like the Mazda 3, and doesn’t deliver the same kind of driving experience. But with a much stiffer body and chassis, one can still enjoy driving aggressively and not pay the penalty of a harsher ride. Leaving it in Sport mode tightens up the steering effort a bit, and the car won’t lean over in turns very much, and always feels composed. And the 17” wheels and rubber, provide plenty of grip in addition to looking good filling up the Elantra’s wheel wells. The highway ride quality is very comfortable, and broken pavement doesn’t upset the ride either.
The redesigned cabin looks very much like its big brother the Sonata, which is a good thing. Everything is nicely laid out, and pleasing to the eye. The one thing that is noticeable is a vast amount of hard plastic throughout. The Elantra could use some softer materials on the door sills and armrests, as well as the center console. Oddly enough, the rear seat fold down armrest has softer materials than the console.
An 8” touchscreen dominated the upper center stack, with an array of buttons and controls for the HVAC (with dual climate control) and radio. The touch screen works nicely, and allows the driver to navigate around the system easily. The voice recognition is good, not great, but I was able to input some addresses into it, while others, had to be manually stored. Phone and radio commands were easy.
The heated leather seats were quite comfortable, and better bolstered than those on the previous model. The driver has a 2-position memory, and the seat retracts when you shut off the car for easy exit, and re-entry. That’s an amenity you don’t often find on a car in this price range, as is the trunk release that opens the trunk when you stand behind t for 3 seconds with the key fob in your pocket. You don’t have to wave your foot or do anything else to operate. Another nicety was the illuminated door handles that light up when you approach.
Larger this year by an inch in length and width, the cabin feels even more spacious than the previous model. Rear passengers will enjoy ample leg room, and headroom, and the heated seats in winter. The trunk offers 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space, and the rear seats fold flat to enhance capacity. The Limited model features more sound deadening materials in the floor pans, the pillars, and fenders, as well as an insulated hood than the lesser trims. That makes this cabin remarkably quiet, and enhances a luxury feel. Even when pushing hard on the accelerator pedal and winding up the engine, very little noise or vibrations seep into the cabin. That insulation adds weight to the Limited model, which costs the limited 1 mpg versus the SE model, but it’s well worth the tradeoff.
The base SE with automatic transmission starts at $18,150, and the base Limited goes for $22,350. Our test car added the Tech Package, at $2,500, which gets you a larger 8” nav screen, Android Auto and Apple Car Play apps, Infinity Premium 8-speaker sound system, 4.2” instrument cluster display, Power Sunroof, heated front and rear seats, Auto dimming rearview mirror with Home Link and compass.
For $1,900, the Ultimate Package, which requires that you buy the Tech Package above, adds HID headlights, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, and Memory Driver Seat. The Blind Spot warning system is standard as is the back-up camera with cross traffic alert.
So with all the options and freight, the 2017 Elantra Limited came to $27,710. While that may sound like a large number, when you go to price it against the competition, you’ll find it a bargain. And remember, many of its competitors do not offer some of the amenities that come standard on the Elantra, or even in option packages.
I’ve always believed it better to get a well optioned car than to move up to a more expensive model without all of the amenities. You can go up the Hyundai ladder to a basic Sonata with a bigger engine, and added packages for just over $29,000; you will have to pay $33,130 for the similarly equipped Sonata Limited.
This Elantra is a very nice car, with good room and driving manners, with lots of luxury appointments, in a tidy package and great gas mileage. I know this would be a welcomed car in my garage.
Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman has been a motor journalist for over 30 years, reviewing automobile, as well as motorcycle ride reviews and accessory reviews.
His car articles have appeared in Robb Report Magazine, Autoguide.com, Car-Revs-Daily.com and other media. His work has also appeared in Road Bike Magazine, Motorcycle Tour and Cruiser, SpeedTV.com, MotorcycleUSA.com and others.
As motorcycle columnist for The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, the paper became the only major circulation newspaper in the country to have a separate weekly section devoted to motorcycles. Later he wrote a weekly column for Cyclefocus Magazine.