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 HappyWith Hyundai (FL) on Friday, December 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, reliability, MPG"
Cons: "A little noisy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought the Elantra new in July of 2009. I was looking for an affordable car that was gas efficient and reliable, and the Elantra has proven that it meets and exceeds that criteria."
By BBU (FL) on Wednesday, November 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Too many quirks: (1) the odometer records 5% more than the actual distance value; (2) the speedometer shows 10% more than the actual speed; (3) the burglar alarm is triggered incessantly. No dealer was able to fix it, they always provided bull reasons; the actual issue was/is a poorly designed sensor for the hood closing; (4) All Hyundai dealers I dealt with were absolutely atrocious in their service; (6) poorly designed mechanical parts, e.g. wheel struts that once they break are a fortune to fix."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By Betty Boop (TN) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 116,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas mileage and drives great."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car the milage is a lot higher than stated. I have drove across the country and have never had any problems. I would buy another 1."
By TBD (IN) on Monday, September 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Space to haul groceries, luggage & some furniture!"
Cons: "Loaded, except no electronic compass on panel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"She's my Lil RED HOT Chillipepper!! I love this little 2010 wagon. It looks more like a small Sporty SUV. I bought it used. I actually traded in my Brand New 2012 Ford Escape for it! (Paymts too high!) Haven't regretted the trade at all. Daughter & I drove it from IN to FL straight thru & was comfortable the whole 12 hr trip. Lots of leg room. Plenty of space in back for tons of luggage! Great gas mileage - 31 mpg! I've had family ride in the back and they said it was comfortable and had leg room as well. Hyundai made a great little car!"
By Curiousgrandpa (GA) on Thursday, July 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,815overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, fuel economy, fun on curvy roads"
Cons: "Fuel tank to small, long trips hard on back."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the Elantra new in 2007 and I have 50,000 miles on it. Great little driver consistent gas milage at 33-34 mpg overall. The car is comfortable on short trips and does ok on long trips. The only drawbacks I have found is the tank is small, 12 gals. On long trips the seats get very hard to sit on. In fairness I am fairly large framed and do prefer a full size vehicle. However for economy and low operating expenses it is hard to beat. I have had no mechanical malfunctions at all and the car is very dependable.It is a blast to drive on curvy road in the hills. Holds the road well."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Clint (ID) on Tuesday, July 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependability, Value, Good Looks, Great MPGs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a 2007 Hyundai Elantra GLS purchased brand new in September of 2007 in Fayetteville NC (The car had 7 actual miles on it when I drove her off the Hyundai lot). I nick named her Carmen Elantra. A month after purchasing the vehicle, I relocated back to Boise Idaho. I drove my Elantra 18 hours per day during the trip across the country (my boyfriend and I would drive in shifts) and I needed to get back to Idaho as soon as possible. It took me 3 days with stopping in St.Louis MO the first night, and Cheyenne WY the second night. When I left North Carolina the car has roughly 1,200 miles on it and it was early December. My car was loaded down with tons of my possession's in the trunk and the back seat. I had the opportunity to drive in all sorts of road conditions during our cross country trip and coming through Wyoming we were traveling through a terrible blizzard. With only front wheel drive (no chains) the car did amazingly well (Im sure having the trunk and the backseat loaded up helped as well). Cars, SUV's, trucks, and Semi trucks were slid off the road between Laramie and the Utah border around every bend. There were jackknifed trucks and stranded motorists all over. We took it slow and had the integrated XM radio (an option I love on the car) tuned to one of the Christmas music holiday channels and sipped coffee from our last stop at a Starbucks. While the roads were terrible and scary, inside the car we felt comfortable, warm, and safe, singing a long to holiday tunes and having the heated seats cranked up. It was snowing so hard we could barely see 10 feet in front of the car, but we trudged on, feeling cozy and safe). Needless to say we made it the 2,400 miles home. In just a few months now, I will have owned this car for six years. I am thinking about buying a new All Wheel Drive Audi or Mercedes but will keep my Hyundai in the garage for many years to come because frankly, I love this car. It's reliable and, it's never left me stranded or hasn't started. It still look sharp (no scratches or dents) the paint is still glossy and shiny from the yearly wax and detail the car gets. I get compliments on the beauty of the Regatta Blue color, as well as the looks of the car (its always been garage kept). People, including myself are also impressed with the 6 speaker audio system. I personally think it sounds just as impressive as the stock audio system in my boyfriends 2008 Subaru Outback Limited we also purchased brand new. While I have always maintained it meticulously, i have rode the car hard on several occasions. For this I give the durability rating a 10. I was hesitant to buy a Hyundai but i will sing their praises for years to come. both my mother and my sister own Hyundai's (an Accent and a Sonata). I owned a 1999 Lexus ES300 before buying my Elantra, and it broke down constantly ( at the time I bought the Hyundai the Lexus was only 6 years old) and I bought the Elantra because of the warranty. Everytime the Lexus was in the shop, it was $500 to $1000 to repair it and I wanted something worry free. My ownership of the Elantra hasn't been completely problem free but definately best car owning experience I have ever had. I have replaced the fog lights 3 times (but I run them always day or night). I have replaced the headlights once and like the fog lights I run them always, day or night. I have replaced the tail lights/brake lights and license plate lights twice as I run the exterior lights always. The brake switch has been replaced 3 times and just this last week the company sent me a letter saying its a recall defect that they will be happy to replace. The rear control arm was broken and was replaced, the passenger sun visor broke and hung limp from the headliner of the car and was replaced. All of these repairs were covered under warranty. The CD player became tempermental around 40k and sometimes hesitates to take certain CD's in (it never has a problem ejecting a CD), but with the AUX input/sync for my iPod or my Phone and, because CD's are becoming outdated I rarely use the CD player anymore (i will not replace the factory deck even if the CD player stops working).Repairs that weren't covered by warranty are as follows, the rotors needed to be resurfaced for $140 (at the same time they replaced the control arm I was given a 2012 Sonata loaner for 3 days while the repairs were completed), the batter died last summer, but I noticed the rough start and went straight to the dealer where they replaced it for $120. I replaced the factory tires with all season 70k mile tires in 2009 when the car had about 29k miles on it (at a cost of $480)I replace the cabin air filter about every 3 months at a cost of $18, and change the oil every 3,000 miles with synthetic even though the manual says every 7k miles (I change the oil more frequently because I ride the car a little harder). I had the transmission flushed and the filter changed at 40k for preventative maintenance (again doing it before recommended by the manual because the I ride the car hard). I am going to have the timing belt done in the next month as preventative maintenance (I'm told is almost $700 at the dealership) and the brake pads will need to be replaced and the rotors turned at the same time (around $200). I've had all work/oil changes/maintenance done at the dealer and for a car that's 6 years old and has just over 50k miles, I would say that 2k in maintenance costs (including tires) is more than reasonable. I paid $16k for the car and I know it will easily go another 100k miles with little to no issues. I wash it and take care of it and people always think its newer than it is, people who have ridden in it are always amazed that its a Hyundai. When I first bought it people were mesmerized by the ice blue ambient lighting in the car at night. I have zero complaints about this little ride. I am 6'6" 210lbs and was 27 when I bought the car. It has enough head and leg room for me as a driver and as a front seat passenger, but no one is able to sit behind me, other than small children, but I've accomodated 4 of my friends on a 9 hour trip to the coast without to many complaints about space. I'm sure someone who is shorter would have no problem with average sized adults sitting behind them. I cant say enough how much I love my Carmen Elantra, If I had to do it, I would buy the car all over again. Even though it is an economy car, it handles well enough, can keep up with the flow of traffic on the freeway and gets awesome gas mileage. In the day and age of $4 per gallon gasoline, I am grateful to have a car that is considered midsize that gets over 30mpgs combined. When I say move over Honda and Toyota, I mean it, especially worth the new Hyundai's 2013's.... They are slick, stylish, and offer more conveniences for less money. I recommend Hyundai to anyone looking to buy a reasonably priced vehicle. Mine continues to be one of the best purchases I ever made. Love it!"
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful