By Matt Degen, Tony Swan
The revamped 2017 Elantra marks the sixth generation of Hyundai's compact sedan, and it returns in prime form to battle against other best-selling rivals like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra. As with the rest of Hyundai's lineup, the Elantra boasts stylish looks, premium amenities and a class-leading warranty that includes 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain. The standard 2017 Hyundai Elantra has a good blend of refinement, eager driving manners and efficiency, while a forthcoming Eco model promises even greater fuel economy. A late-arriving Sport model gives the Elantra something it lacked in standard and Eco trims -- brisk performance and nimble handling. All Elantras offer sophisticated design and surprising features at a great value.
If you're looking for a small, stylish, value-oriented sedan with an excellent warranty, you'll find it in the Elantra. And the new Sport model adds more power and improved handling. Higher-grade Limited models offer class-exclusive features such as power-operated trunk, Infinity audio and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
For all of the Elantra's enhancements, it still can't match the fuel economy of a Honda Civic or Mazda3, nor is it as roomy as a Civic or Toyota Corolla. If you want an Elantra Hatchback, one is still available in the GT, but it's based on an older model.
The Elantra is all new for 2017, and the late-arriving Sport model adds a performance dimension previously absent. This compact sedan has new 4-cylinder powertrains, impressive safety features like blind-spot monitoring and automatic braking, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The Elantra hatchback GT remains available, but carries over on a separate platform.
The 2017 Elantra does an admirable job blending comfort, efficiency and even some agility, particularly in the new Sport model, with more power, a firmer suspension, and bigger brakes. ....
... The standard Elantra's new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine feels stronger than its 147 horsepower may lead you to believe, and its available 6-speed automatic transmission is a willing partner. The Sport’s 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four inspires more urgency to acceleration. Romping around the hills outside of San Diego during an extensive evaluation, we enjoyed the sport mode that firmed the Elantra's steering feel and held shifts longer. On a more recent blitz from Las Vegas through Death Valley, we were very impressed with the Sport’s high-speed stability. While not as athletic as a Mazda3, the Elantra holds its own against other compact sedans for general commuting and city driving, while the Elantra Sport adds a level of performance and agility previously absent in this car.
The Elantra Sport is a complete package -- suspension, chassis, brakes -- but the key is its 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo four and 6-speed manual transmission, borrowed from the midsize Hyundai Sonata. Transmission options also include a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, but the manual is the better choice.
POWER TRUNK, WITH A TRICK
The 2017 Elantra is the first mainstream compact sedan to offer a power-operated trunk, a feature made even more convenient thanks to its hands-free operation. With the key fob in your pocket or purse, all you have to do is walk behind the car, wait a few seconds, and the trunk will open.
Hyundai points out that the Elantra's interior is a size higher than its class. It’s a compact car, but its 110.2 cubic feet of interior room makes it a midsize vehicle, according to the EPA. That's not quite as roomy as the also-all-new Honda Civic and revised Nissan Sentra, but it still means a small car needn’t be a "penalty box." We especially appreciate the driver-centric dash, and the fact that the audio and climate controls are buttons and knobs vs. multi-step touch-based systems. We also like the more supportive seats and D-shaped, leather-wrapped steering wheel in the Sport model.
Like Hyundai's latest Tucson compact SUV and Sonata sedan, the new Elantra looks more conservative than its predecessor, but also more sophisticated than its price suggests. It's not gaudy, either, though we admit the large hexagonal grille is borderline gaping. The Elantra further stands out with an athletic stance, front-wheel air curtains, and a spoiler built into the trunk lid. All of the foregoing is accentuated in the Sport model, which also rolls on 18-inch wheels. The 2017 Elantra is only marginally larger than the outgoing model, growing 0.8 inches in length to 179.9 inches, and an inch in width to 70.9.
Even the most basic 2017 Elantra includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a 6-way driver's seat with height adjustment, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and AM/FM/CD audio with USB and auxiliary jacks. If you go with an Elantra SE, do yourself a favor and get the Popular Equipment package. For only $800, it adds a slew of features like a 7-inch touchscreen display, backup camera, Bluetooth, cruise control, hood insulation for a quieter ride, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. All you lose in the deal is the CD player. All new Elantras come with a generous 10-year/100,000-mile warranty for the powertrain and five years of roadside assistance.
Aside from the automatic transmission ($1,000), most major options for the new Elantra are bundled into packages or the higher Limited trim. The Elantra Limited includes a leather interior, power driver's seat with lumbar support, hands-free power trunk, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, and push-button start. Adding the Tech package to that trim includes navigation with an 8-inch screen, Infinity audio, heated rear seats, and a power sunroof. Go for the Ultimate package, and you'll get automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, the driver's seat memory system and high-intensity headlights that turn in the direction of the steering.
The 2017 Elantra offers a choice of three 4-cylinder engines, all new to the model. The standard powerplant is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that's slightly more powerful and efficient than the outgoing 1.8-liter engine. It is mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. A 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic propels the Elantra Eco trim. As you probably guessed from the name, the Eco is the most efficient of the three, raising this version of the Elantra up to the magic 40-mpg highway mark. The new Elantra Sport brings 201 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque to the party, with EPA ratings of 22/30 mpg (city/highway) with the 6-speed manual transmission, 26/33 with the 7-speed automatic.
2.0-liter inline-4 (2017 Elantra SE and Limited)
147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/36 mpg (manual), 29/38 mpg (automatic), 28/37 mpg (Limited and SE models with Tech Package).
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (2017 Elantra Eco)
128 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
156 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400-3,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/40 mpg
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (2017 Elantra Sport)
201 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (manual, 26/33 mpg (automatic)
The base price for a 2017 Hyundai Elantra starts just under $18,000 for an SE with a manual transmission. Most buyers will opt for an automatic: $1,000 extra. Add that and the Popular Equipment package, and you're still below $20,000. The new Elantra Sport is $22,485, add $1,110 for the automatic transmission. There is just one option, a $2,400 Popular Equipment package. Check all the boxes and go with a leather-lined Elantra with the Ultimate package, and it’s still under $28,000 -- not bad for a mainstream car with more equipment than many entry-level luxury cars. The Elantra's price undercuts the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza, and is close to that of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Ford Focus. A Nissan Sentra starts below the Elantra, as does the Elantra's Kia Forte cousin. The Elantra's resale value had traditionally trailed that of the market-leading Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic.