By KBB.com Editors
A value-packed and inexpensive alternative to the segment-leading Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the 2009 Hyundai Elantra makes a great first (or even second) car. The spacious and fuel-efficient Elantra can comfortably and safely pack in a family of four (five in a pinch) and its cargo. From front to rear, the 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 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 2009 Hyundai Elantra offers front, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, plus antilock brakes (ABS), as standard equipment.
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. Also,the Hyundai's resale values are nowhere near Toyota or Honda.
Changes are limited to a new audio system with larger display, USB and iPod auxiliary inputs and an enhanced suspension.
Driving Impressions Zippy little engines are no longer a surprise in economy cars, but the Elantra's 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 138-horsepower CVVT ULEV 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.
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.
In addition to the front, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, all 2009 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.
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.
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)
By Alex on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 184,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cost of ownership, durability"
Cons: "easily stained cloth (grey),"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Hi there, I was checking the value of my elantra online and thought I'd leave a review. I purchased my 2008 Hyundai Elantra with 31k on the clock in 2011. It was a previous rent-a-car but I wasn't too scared, I needed a reliable, fuel efficient vehicle in a pinch. I paid too much, 13k. Now let me tell you, I've done nothing but consumables (brakes, tires, wipers, batteries, and oil changes between 4k-10k miles apart. Rarely was I not at full throttle or taking it through fields or hopping curbs and whatnot. This car refused to complain, breakdown, anything. I didn't do the timing belt (recommended at 60k), or any other fluid flushes (oil only). The motor finally broke (spun a bearing and a broken rod or something like that) Guess what, used motor with 51k for $600, $800 labor including fluids, timing belt, etc. to install and I expect to be back on the road this Friday. The car cleans up pretty well too. It's not a prestigious vehicle but I've been pretty darn lucky and can't wait to get another 180k+ out of this motor. Wish me luck. Oh, the interior plastic bits haven't held up too well, the knick knack holder above the radio stays open, the sunglasses holder drops down randomly, and passenger side sunvisor doesn't like to stay put but there's a good chance that my abuse and the Florida sun didn't help them either. Have a great day!!!"
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By darryl on Monday, October 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 106,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "workmanship and quality"
Cons: "Noise and comfort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Good, reliable car. Ride is a little noisy, comfort is fair to good. Quality and workmanship is good. No engine problems. Good pep for a car with this mileage"
12 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Bliggs on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value for your $$"
Cons: "Back seat is a little cramped. Not much leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love my Elantra! Best bang for you $$ on the road!! Gets great gas mileage, has decent acceleration, and is a relatively quiet ride. Very satisfied customer! Thank you Hyundai!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By MrApple on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,750overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very peppy, 5spd man, easy to handle, economical."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought with 13k miles and have used it as a commuter, first for a 30mile round trip car and now a 100 mile rt car. Never had any issues other than body damage in a low impact fender bender, which was repaired, with the exception of a parking lot dent in right rear fender. This is my most favorite personal car and I am 55. Cold A/C, XM equipped, auxiliary jack and about 35mpg on my hwy commute. I need a 4wd so I am replacing this one."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Kesh on Saturday, September 20, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Traded in for a new car
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I owned it for seven years and it never gave any troubles. Only thing I did was change oil and filter. I only put about 3000 miles per year. I once drove it from SC to CO and it behaved very beautifully, and I enjoyed the ride and the drive. Used less than 50 gallons of gas for 1600 miles of drive."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By NolaMom on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Mechanically holding up well"
Cons: "Interior, exterior quality is lacking"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"This car has been solid mechanically. However, it lacks comfortable seating and things in the interior break rather easily. The door handles peeled leaving sharp edges that cut my son. I just peeled all the silver off instead of investing in new handles. Covers in the corner of the windows have fallen off. Small things like that have happened on this car that I never experienced when I owned other vehicles. The car shimmies when I go over 60. I have had everything checked. Apparently this car isn't designed to cruise well on the interstate. But it is a good basic car if you are budget conscious."
11 people out of 22 found this review helpful