While the rest of the Elantra lineup hardly falls into the gas-guzzler realm, Kia is bolstering its econo push for 2010 with the introduction of a new "Blue" model. In addition to being the most fuel efficient member of the family -- EPA stats on its 2.0-liter engine rise from 24 to 26 mpg in the city and 33 to 35 mpg on the highway -- it's also the lowest priced Elantra, opening at just $14,865. However that figure does include one caveat: this econo-runner is only available with a five-speed manual transmission.
Functionally, the 2010 Elantra Blue gets a new "smart" alternator management system, lower-friction engine internals, revised electronic control calibrations, reshuffled transmission ratios and a new shift indicator dash readout. Visual changes are pretty much confined to "Elantra Blue" rear badging. Despite its sub-$15K sticker, the Blue still brings a pretty impressive selection of standards including power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless remote entry, a 60/40 split/folding rear seat, anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags.
Those who do demand an autoshifter will be pleased to find that some measure of "Blue" tech has also trickled down to the 2010 Elantra GLS and SE models, specifically the aforementioned changes to engine and alternator. While ratios haven't changes, their standard four-speed automatics also benefit from a more efficient lockup converter. Collectively, those enhancements help raise city mileage from 25 to 26 mpg and boost highway numbers from 33 to 34 mpg.