Making its U.S. debut in Los Angeles, the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra is set to become more of an impact player in the competitive compact sedan segment. Offering bolder style, enhanced performance, improved handling and a more refined driving experience, this new Hyundai also boasts a selection of new comfort/convenience/safety touches. All of the above should serve it well against rivals like the Ford Focus, Mazda Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla -- not to mention the all-new-for-2016 Honda Civic. 

Cleaner, more contemporary look

Although slightly longer, wider and lighter than the current model, the 2017 Elantra retains the same 106.3-inch wheelbase. Its sleeker but more sophisticated bodywork is highlighted by a new Genesis-style hexagonal grille that can be framed by optional HID headlamps with Dynamic Bending Lights and LED daytime running lights, the latter a first for Elantra. The car also features front air curtains used on the Sonata Hybrid as well as a tidier rear fascia and new decklid spoiler lip that combine with underbody fairings to trim the coefficient of drag from 0.28 to 0.27. Other notable exterior changes include available 17-inch alloy wheels, side mirrors with LED turn signals, LED door-handle approach lights and full LED taillamps. 

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The passenger compartment of the new Elantra has a more upscale look and feel complemented by richer trim and additional soft-touch surfaces. New seats made from environmentally friendly SoyFoam offer greater comfort and support whether covered in cloth or available leather and the revamped 60/40 split rear bench provides slightly more head and legroom. Hyundai engineers also focused on trimming ambient noise levels in the new Elantra, complementing design revisions with more use of sound-deadening materials to better isolate it from road and powertrain din.   

On the technology front, the new Elantra introduces several class-above features including segment-exclusive hands-free Smart Trunk opener and an integrated memory system for the power driver's seat/outside mirrors. Other notable touches include adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Hyundai's next generation Blue Link infotainment and the choice of two multimedia system upgrades beyond the base audio unit, both with Android Auto capability. One has a 7.0-inch Display Audio touchscreen and the other an 8.0-inch touch screen with Hyundai's next-gen navigation system. At long last, the Elantra also will offer a second USB charging port.

Two new engines and more to come

Motivating the 2017 Elantra are two new 4-cylinder engines. The base unit in the SE and Limited is naturally aspirated 2.0-liter that makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It can be paired  with a 6-speed manual (SE only) or a new high-efficiency 6-speed automatic transmission where it will return projected 29/38/33-mpg city/highway/combined EPA numbers. A new Eco model will join the Elantra lineup shortly after launch packing a 1.4-liter turbocharged/direct-injected engine that develops 128 horses but 156 lb-ft of twist. Exclusively teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, it's expected to earn a 35-mpg combined mark.  A next-gen Sport model also is in the pipeline and Hyundai promises it will be "the most powerful Elantra yet. 

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The structure of the 2017 Elantra is stiffer thanks to the use of more than doubling the amount of advanced high-strength steel to 53 percent. Torsional rigidity is up 29.5 percent and bending stiffness by 25.3 percent. In addition to providing better crash/impact protection, that extra robustness complements the Elantra's redesigned suspension in a way Hyundai says improves the ride, handling and stability. On the safety front, the 2017 Elantra bolsters its roster with new optional features that include Automatic Emergency Braking with class-exclusive Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. 

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra SE and Limited models go on sale in January with the Elantra Eco arriving in the spring and the Sport due later in the year. Pricing for all will be released closer to their respective on-sale dates.

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