By KBB.com Editors
The 2008 Hyundai Elantra carries over largely unchanged form a major redo last year. The spacious and fuel-efficient Elantra can comfortably and safely pack in a family of five and its cargo. From front to rear, the 2008 Elantra's sharp styling, roomy interior and quality-conscious engineering qualifies this fourth-generation version as a fully contemporary yet affordable sedan.You'll Like This Car If...
You'll like this car if high mileage is a must and regular is your gasoline of choice; its 25/33 city/highway EPA fuel economy numbers trump the Volkswagen Rabbit's, for example. If safety is your issue, the 2008 Hyundai Elantra offers front, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, plus antilock brakes (ABS), as standard equipment.You May Not Like This Car If...
You may not like this car (at least with the manual transmission) if your daily drive demands constant gear shifting, as the five-speed does not have the smoothest operation in our experience.What's New for 2008
The SE Premium plus leather package replaces last year's Limited trim. The SE also receives electronic stability control and brake assist, while a tire pressure monitoring system is now standard on all models.Driving It Driving Impressions
Zippy little engines are no longer a surprise in economy cars, but the Elantra's 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 138-horsepower Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) engine, teamed with the five-speed transmission, is particularly impressive, especially on uphill climbs. Quieter than one might expect, engine noise is drowned out by wind and tire noise when the windows are rolled down. Ride and performance are average, with handling far more responsive than the previous version. A comfortable car to drive, the Elantra feels secure and reliable, and its owners will likely appreciate its straight-forward predictability and control.Favorite Features
Audio System Controls
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are a huge convenience and are standard with the Elantra SE. Nestled neatly into the wheel's left side, the flush-mounted buttons for Volume, Seek and Mode are within easy reach.
The generously-sized trunk stretches into the car and, with the 60/40-split rear seat folded down, the space is even larger.
The interior is comfortable, functional and spacious, with well-padded seating, but not necessarily an example of modern style. The SE's somewhat dated-looking velvety seat fabric, the instrument panel with its expanses of plastic and the over-designed door panels appear a little old-fashioned. Otherwise, the roominess, headroom and rear-seat legroom are welcome in a car of this size, the trunk is exceptionally deep and large, the rear seat splits 60/40 for added convenience and an auxiliary jack and power outlet allow for plug-in accessories.Exterior
The impressive exterior styling, with its clean lines and sculpted body sides, borrows design characteristics from the larger and more expensive Hyundai Azera. Prominent among the pleasing exterior appearance features is the grille, with three horizontal bars, finely integrated headlights and a two-bar air duct with corner lamps.Notable Standard Equipment
In addition to the front, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, all 2008 Hyundai Elantras feature anti-lock brakes (ABS) with four-wheel discs, active front head restraints, remote keyless entry, power locks and windows and heated power mirrors. The SE's generous list of standard equipment includes air conditioning, tilt/telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, fog lights, rear window defroster, alloy wheels and a 172-watt sound system with XM Satellite Radio. Standard safety features for the SE include Electronic Stability Control and Brake Assist.Notable Optional Equipment
If carpeted floor mats are all you want to add, you'll pay just a little extra for them, but most buyers will likely want the four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and lockup torque converter, as well. Other options on the SE include a power sunroof, heated seats and leather seating surfaces. On the GLS, options include cruise control, fog lights, 172-watt sound system with XM Satellite Radio, illuminated vanity mirrors and extendable shades on the front sunvisors.Under the Hood
A competent 2.0-liter super-clean engine powers the Elantra and scores high on the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide. The combination of Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and dual overhead camshafts gives the engine a very broad power spread, coupled with high fuel efficiency and low emissions. The manual transmission helps get the most out of the engine.
2.0-liter in-line 4 (ULEV)
138 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 (manual), 25/33 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line 4 (PZEV)
132 horsepower @6000 rpm
133 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 (automatic)
The 2008 Hyundai Elantra's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $14,000 for the GLS with manual transmission and tops out at just over $20,000 for a loaded SE, which includes automatic transmission and leather interior. Hyundai is betting that with its comprehensive standard equipment packages and the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the Elantra will bring in buyers needing a small, capable four-door sedan, and families wanting space for children as well as an ample trunk. Take into account, too, that Fair Purchase Prices, representing prices consumers are actually paying, can differ substantially, so click on Fair Purchase Prices to compare. The Elantra is gaining in the resale value arena and can now keep pace with the projected five-year values set by the Ford Focus and Dodge Caliber. However, the Elantra still falls far short of resale leaders Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.