2014 Hyundai Elantra review

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2014 Hyundai Elantra review
Hyundai Elantra

2014 Hyundai Elantra

Continuing the Fluid Sculpture� design language that met acclaim with the Hyundai Sonata. the all-new Hyundai Elantra is a little less large but offers lots of style for a reasonable price. In fact it looks like a Mini-Me� version of the Sonata.

We spent a day with the new car around the hills and coasts of San Diego. Here’s our report, which could be titled Hyundai’s Quest For World Domination Part 11 Billion.�

We’ve been here before

With the 2011 model being the fifth version of this venerable small car, Hyundai chose to make no small gestures in the redesign. Instead, we see a car that although is technically a compact-sized model, the EPA classifies its interior alone as mid-size.� Hyundai calls it class above� designing.

Seriously serious about cheating the wind, the Elantra has been smoothed to within an inch of its life. Elantra chief designer Cedric D’André describes the look as wind-crafted.� Aero improvements including wrap-around sheetmetal that intentionally mimics the looks of the Sonata have yielded a 0.28 drag coefficient, which in turn brings about a claimed fuel savings of nearly 18 percent to a highly-vaunted 40 mpg on the highway for every single model.

With seven new vehicles over a 24 month period, the company hasn’t been slacking. This is the fourth in a series, following the recent introductions of the Hyundai Equus. Hyundai Tucson and Hyundai Sonata.

Designed to go head to head with the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. it is certainly the most stylish of those three. The Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Mazda Mazda3 run in the same circles. And then there is the Kia Forte. the Elantr’s more Germanic-looking kissing cousin.

We’ve listened to Hyundai officials wax eloquently about the market share of the brand, cross shopping versus other manufacturers and so on, but the biggest take away we for the average car buyer is the Elantra’s fuel economy. And apparently, that’s only the beginning. With the recently introduced Sonata hitting 35 mpg, don’t be surprised to see 40 mpg bandied about on every poster, banner ad and billboard Hyundai can find.

But company reps went further to claim that they have a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) goal of 50 mpg by 2025, which means that all of Hyundai’s vehicles must attain mileage of between 47 and 62 mpg.

Actually, that might be less optimistic than Volkswagen’s goal of selling 800,000 cars here by 2018. Let’s get those bets in.

An inside peek

With the exterior nicely trimmed out, we found the interior equally refined. Sure there is the requisite amount of plastic inside, but what’s there looks and generally feels very good. An elegant design to the waterfall center console area offers easy reach to driver and passenger alike.

Storage areas are nearly everywhere on the car, including the doors, and center armrests, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the interior designers thoughtful enough to provide a second power port and pocket area near the right front footwell, so the front passenger can have a place to charge his cellphone while the driver can have a radar detector or other device plugged into the port on his side.

The Elantra will be available in two different trim levels, the volume GLS model and the Limited premium model. Standard interior seating surfaces on the soy foam material are an embossed knit, while the Limited gets a wave-perforated leather-seating surface. Available individual rear seat heaters are a segment first.

While satellite radio equipped audio systems are standard, available options include a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free linkage for enabled cellphones, and a navigation system with seven-inch screen.

There are no stand-alone options on the Elantra. Instead, groups of options will be sold in various equipment packages, in an effort to streamline ordering from the seventeen different variations of the previous model to the seven found on this newest Hyundai.

Steel this car

Hyundai is the only manufacturer with its own steel plant (and it’s probably the only one with its own department store chain, but we digress). To that end, the Hyundai Steel Company has over 400 engineers and metallurgists on staff developing lighter and stronger steel for the firm’s autos, ships and trucks.

The result of this asset within the brand portfolio, at least as the Elantra is concerned, is body stiffness that is 37-percent better than the previous model’s rating. The resulting torsional rigidity helped boost the Elantr’s noise, vibration and harshness effectiveness, which ultimately yields a quiet ride.

The body is not all that’s been on a diet here. The Elantra uses a new, er Nu (think Greek) 1.8-liter inline four cylinder that is 74 lbs. lighter than the Beta 2.0-liter engine it replaces. Now featuring an aluminum head and block, the new mill produces 148 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, which is 7 percent better than before, and peaks out at 131 lb-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.

EPA fuel economy for the 2,661-pound four-door is 29 city/40 highway for both manual and automatic transmission models. From full to empty, an Elantra can travel 512 miles on a single tank.

Hyundai Elantra

A six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission will be available (manual in the GLS only) at launch. Hyundai expects that the manual will have a take rate of only 7 percent. While we didn’t have a chance behind the wheel of the do-it-yourself tranny, we did manage to put a couple of hundred miles on the Elantra with the Shiftronic manumatic slushbox.

It provided smooth shifts without hunting, while giving us a workout when we wanted to row it ourselves. What we would really like to see is a set of paddle shifters similar to those found in the big-brother Sonata SE.

The four is generally a refined unit, but it begins to make a racket as the rpms climb. The Sonata’s 2.0-liter turbo unit would work wonders here.

The power engineers weren’t the only ones giving their propeller heads a workout. The ride-side guys were busy with tuning a mid-size car feel into a compact-size car. What they ended up with was a typical independent MacPherson strut set up in front with coil springs, gas-charged shocks and a 23mm stabilizer bar. The rear-end was equipped with a coupled torsion beam axle and monotube dampers.

Add in disc brakes all around and you have a decent package. Hyundai chose what they call a fuel saving motor-driven power steering (MDPS) system instead of the electric systems which are currently more en vogue.

We think they made a good choice. On our routes, which saw us plowing away along grooved freeways, expansion-jointed roads, chopped up asphalt and even the occasional sandy shoreline parking lot, we experienced one of the best compact/mid-sized rides we have had behind the wheel. The steering feel was good without being overly boosted and offered good feedback that added confidence when we needed to make a couple of quick lane changes to avoid drivers who apparently lacked much of the same.

Leftlane’s bottom line

Hyundai shows a new maturity that started with the Sonata, continued on through the Equus and now reveals itself in the new Elantra.

Start with decent power from a reasonably refined four, add in exceptionally solid ride-and-handling characteristics and top things off with class-above style and finishings. Hyundai clearly shows once again why they are causing other manufacturers to look over their shoulders.

We can only imagine what’s coming next.

2011 Hyundai Elantra base price range, $14,830 to $21,980.

Words and photos by Mark Elias.

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Hyundai Elantra
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