When it comes to compact cars, one of the most important elements is efficient use of interior space. Most important: do you and your friends and family fit in the car? When it comes to our long-term Hyundai Elantra, the answer so far has been a resounding yes. Second most important, though, is how well you and your friends' stuff fits in the car.

Cargo convenience

The Elantra's trunk will hold 14.4 cubic feet of gear, a good size for the category, with the added bonus of a hands-free smart trunk, a feature that's standard on the mid-level Value Edition and top-line Limited models. When you are standing within three feet of the back of the car for a few seconds with the key fob in your pocket, the trunk will automatically open. This saves you from having to put everything down (think bags of groceries, luggage, etc.) to dig the fob out of your purse or pocket to open the trunk.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2017

Hidden from view

There are plenty of cubbies and cupholders in each door and throughout the cabin, but we give special kudos to the way Hyundai treated a storage area that's right up front. Sitting below the dual-zone climate control knobs, nestled behind the transmission shifter, is an ordinary-looking black door. Pushing that door open, however, reveals your access to key infotainment features. This is where you can connect to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it's also where you'll find an auxiliary jack and two chargers. While automakers often have their ports, charge spots and connectors located together, having them in a covered spot, as is the case in the Elantra, means that you can leave your cords connected in the car without drawing any attention. No one is going to walk by, see a cord sticking out, and wonder if the corresponding electronic device is also in the car and easy to grab.

This storage nook wouldn't quite fit my smartphone with the door closed, mostly because of the way the cord sticks out of the bottom of my phone, but my iPod touch fits in there, nicely obscured from view. One little door means that you don’t need to disconnect your USB cords and put them in the center console every time you leave the car, an added bit of security and convenience.

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