By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
Hyundai’s compact Elantra sedan and hatchback return for 2016 with new features, a lower price and, for the 5-door Elantra GT, a new look. Hyundai has made a name for itself by offering premium features on its compact cars, scoring top marks in the areas of fuel economy, power and interior space, then closing the deal with a standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. With resale figures now rivaling those of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the compact 2016 Hyundai Elantra sedan and GT hatchback could rest on their laurels. Instead, the Elantra continues to add value and style, with a bold new front end on the Elantra GT 5-door, and segment exclusive features such as ventilated front seats.
If you’re in the market for a compact car that will delight both your sense of style and practicality, check out the 2016 Hyundai Elantra. The sedan looks like a high-priced midsize, while the sporty 5-door GT offers improved versatility without sacrificing efficiency or comfort.
Hyundai’s 2016 Elantra compact sedan has set the bar high, but many competitors have raised the bar even higher, particularly in the areas of interior plastics and color. Unlike the Elantra, the Mazda3 and Ford Focus don’t exclude desirable options (such as navigation) should you opt for a manual transmission.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra compact sedan adds a new Value Edition on the SE trim, while the Sport trim has its leather seating and sunroof deleted. The Limited trim gains standard proximity key and dual automatic temperature control, while the 5-door Elantra GT receives new front-end styling and more features.
Hyundai’s 2016 Elantra sedan and GT 5-door split the difference between the firm ride of the Mazda3 and Ford Focus, and the softer uninspiring performance of cars like the Toyota...
... Corolla and Nissan Sentra. The Elantra sedan’s 1.8-liter engine can muster only 145 horsepower, yet when teamed with the available 6-speed automatic, performs on par with other compacts in the field. While we applaud the standard manual transmission, the 6-speed unit in the Elantra feels vague and uninspiring. Opt for the Elantra Sport sedan or GT hatchback, and you’ll get a much more robust performance from the 173-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. These trims also feature Hyundai’s 3-mode Driver Selectable Steering Mode that offers varying degrees of feedback depending on your style of driving. Those who favor comfort should go with an SE or Limited sedan, while fans of a firm suspension and more agile cornering should look to the 5-door GT.
DRIVER SELECTABLE STEERING MODE
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra’s Driver Selectable Steering Mode offers the driver three distinct settings for feedback via the steering wheel. Comfort requires less effort at the wheel, while the Sport mode quickens response. The system is standard on SE, Limited and GT trims.
VENTILATED FRONT SEATS
A segment first, the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT can be equipped with leather front seats that heat in the winter and cool on sweltering summer days. Try finding that on a Honda Civic or Dodge Dart.
Although the 2016 Elantra sedan competes as a compact car, its roomy interior gets it classified as a midsize car by the EPA. The comfortable interior features some higher-end soft-touch materials, but there's also some low-end-feeling plastic on the doors and switches. The front seats are properly shaped for leisurely or aggressive driving, and while rear legroom is only adequate for the sedan, it's downright generous in the GT. Fold-down seats augment the large trunk in the sedan and Coupe, and if you haul extra gear but don't want an SUV, the hatchback-only GT is a good pick.
Hyundai says the 2016 Elantra's "Fluidic Sculpture" design evokes water flowing around rocks. Whatever you call it, the curves and swoops combine elegantly with sweeping headlights and taillights, looking upscale without feeling gaudy or over the top. For 2016, the Elantra GT hatchback receives a bold new trapezoidal grille and front-end treatment, as well as new 17-inch alloy wheels. Although we know the sedan is the favorite child, we think the hatchback looks more aggressive and offers some of the same versatility found in a compact SUV.
The base-level Elantra SE sedan for 2016 comes standard with a manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and a telescoping steering wheel. Also standard are upscale features such as keyless entry, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, aluminum-alloy wheels, and a 172-watt 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/satellite radio with USB/iPod inputs. Sport models get heated seats, proximity key push-button start, a power driver’s seat and 17-inch wheels, while Limited models feature leather seating, heated rear seats and dual-zone climate control. The sedan models have six airbags, while the 5-door GT versions add a seventh for the driver's knees.
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra sedan has two upgrade paths from the base SE model. There's the Sport, which gives you the more powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, or the Limited, which adds more luxury, but keeps the less powerful engine. A new Value Edition package for SE models adds a sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and proximity key, among other features. Navigation, a 360-watt audio system and a power sunroof are optional on the Sport and Limited. The GT’s Tech Package adds navigation, upgraded audio, ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, leather seating and rearview camera.
Hyundai’s Elantra SE and Limited sedans for 2016 both get a 145-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, while Elantra Sport and Elantra GT employ a 173-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. We think the better bet is the 2.0-liter engine. It offers significantly better power, at the expense of only a moderate hit to fuel economy. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual standard on the SE, Sport and GT hatchback. A 6-speed automatic is available for the sedan and GT, and standard on the Limited. The automatic comes with an Eco mode to further enhance fuel economy, and a manual-shifting mode for a bit of added sport.
1.8-liter inline-4 (SE, Limited sedan)
145 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
130 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 mpg (manual), 28/38 mpg (automatic), 27/37 mpg (automatic, Limited)
2.0-liter inline-4 (Sport sedan and GT hatchback)
173 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (manual, Sedan), 24/35 mpg (automatic, Sedan), 24/33 mpg (GT)
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra SE compact sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just a shade over $18,000, with the Value Edition coming in just under $21,000. The Sport models cost about $21,000, and Limited models come in at about $22,500. An automatic transmission adds an extra $1,000 to the SE, Sport and GT’s bottom line. Final prices for the flexible GT hatchback start at $19,625 and top out around $27,000. That's comparable to other notable compact sedans in this segment, such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others are actually paying for the Hyundai Elantra in your area. The Hyundai's resale value is a strong point and we expect the 2016 Elantra to hold its value exceptionally well over a 5-year period.