"I purchased by 2002 Elantra GT new and have been very happy with it--sun roof, leather, good gas mileage and reliability for ~$17K. It's the perfect size for a family of up to 4--good room inside and the hatchback option with fold down back seats gives LOTS of room when you need to haul larger loads and perfect for longer road trips. Which is why it would make a great car for a college student. It now has 85,000 miles on it with routine maintenance (oil changes, 60,000 mile service, etc.) and is still going strong. The only 'bigger' maintenance I've had--I had to replace the battery after about 4 years; the temperature gauge for the radiator went out right at 60,000 miles; had brakes done at 75,000 miles; and it seems to go through rear break light bulbs at a faster than average rate. No, it's not the most glamorous car (although every once in a while someone comments that it looks like a Saab), but it performs well both in town and on the highway in all kinds of weather and has enough kick to make it worth holding onto for at least another 50,000 miles."
"I have owned this vehicle since it was new and it has been extremely reliable and consistently provided great gas mileage. It is not the most comfortable vehicle on long trips, but handles very good. The great maneuverability and acceleration has gotten me out of some very close calls from other bad drivers."
"I purchased brand new and was well worth it. Now 180K miles and still going strong. I have had to do very few repairs (CV axels, timing belt & radiator) and everything is easy enough to do myself. Have even been hit twice and very little damage to the car. It's a little beast!"
Cons: "ABS, cruise, not standard. Likes light body damage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We've owned the car since about 35000 miles in 2007. Very few problems. Changed timing belt @ 80,000 miles and had to replace water pump around the same time. Brakes etc. Other than general maintenance no major repairs required. Still going strong and average about 29mpg.
The body does tend be a little soft, taking dents and dings with out much of a fight.
Regardless, I was delightfully suprised with the reliability of this car. Hoping with regular upkeep she'll make it 200,000."
"Reliable. Great gas mileage. Affordable. These are terms which are normally reserved for the Honda Civic or the Toyota Camry. The underrated Hyundai Elantra, though, must be included in this group. And I'll tell you why. The first Elantra I owned was a 2005 with 101k miles. The previous owner didn't see the value that I saw so I got a great deal. (More on that value I saw later.) I drove the car for another 30k miles with zero issues besides the normal wear/tear and replacement of tires and a few oil changes. It was incredibly fun to drive, got about 26 mpg regularly, and did well on long trips. After having the car for 2+ years though, another driver ran a stop sign causing me to t-bone them, totaling my little car. No one was hurt though. (Did I mention it's safe too?) Using the settlement from that accident, I bought ANOTHER 2005 Elantra, this one a GT with 103k miles (virtually the same car), for another great price! I'm still driving that one to this day (1.5 years) with zero major issues. The initial value I saw in that first Elantra was actually due to my sister's driving habits. She bought a 2003 Hyundai Elantra off the lot and has all but driven it into the ground. As of this writing (mid 2013) she has had the oil changed 5-6 times. She has worn the tires down until their metal threads show countless times. She's had the radiator flushed once. Maybe twice. And she drives it like a rental to this day. But, despite all that, the mighty little Elantra is holding steady. Albeit barely. So, in closing, if you find an affordable mid 2000's or newer Elantra.... BUY IT!!"