Pros-Stylish. Refined. Roomy. Supple ride. Steady handling. Thrifty. More features. Model variety. Safety features.
Cons-Moderately exciting. Rear seats need more thigh support. Hard center rear seat.
Bottom Line-Solid buy in most respects.
Hyundai has a lot to brag about with its 2019 Hyundai Elantra sedan, which has a lot more going for it. The Elantra is Hyundai's top-selling vehicle, although it sells some fairly popular SUVs and many automakers are dropping sedans in favor of SUVs.Now in its sixth generation, the Elantra has sold more than 3 million units since its launch in the U.S. in 1991.
For one thing, the 2019 Elantra has a new hood, front fenders, front fascia, grille and headlights, along with new rear fascia with new taillights, new 16- and 17-inch wheel designs and LED headlights on some models. Even the license plates been relocated to the lower fascia to further enhance the new body sculpture. Do you recall when the Elantra was capable but dull-looking.
Hyundai didn't stop with the outside styling. The quieter interior has changes that give it a more upscale look. There's a new center cluster with easily read gauges and new air vents, temperature controls, storage tray and a new instrument cluster and housing. There's also a standard 5-inch color audio system, steering wheel audio controls, wireless charging, available Android Auto and Apple lCarPlays, and a rearview camera with "dynamic" guidelines so a driver doesn't, say, back into a vehicle when leaving a parking spot. There's also a push-button start that's partly hidden by the steering wheel rim.
Moreover, no Elantra trim level will break the bank. Prices range from approximately $16,950 to $24,620.
There's good interior room, although the rear seats could use more thigh support, and the center of the rear seat is stiff. It's best to use the fold-down rear center armrest with its dual cupholders.
The trunk is acceptably large and has a power lid that works efficiently. The cargo area doesn't call for you to crawl over the bumper to reach the far end of it. Rear seat backs have trunk releases and flip forward easily and sit flat to significantly increase the cargo area.
The four-door front-drive Elantra sedan comes in variety of trim levels: SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited, Sport.and economy-minded Eco. The Eco has only 128 horsepower four-cylinder but good torque, while most others have a 2-liter dual-overhead-camshaft 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine with dual continuous variable valve timing. A turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with 201 horse power also is offered. Transmissions are a 6-speed automatic with an easily used manual shift feature, a 6-speed manual and 7-speed dual-clutch.
These are carryover engines, and it's mystery to me why Hyundai doesn't bump the horsepower rating from 147 to at least 150 horsepower. It wouldn't make much difference in performance but the higher figure just looks better.
The 147-horsepower four provides decent performance in town and during passing on highways, partly because the car only weighs approximately 2,800 pounds, while delivering an estimated 28 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on highways with 87-octane fuel.
Those who want more lively acceleration should opt for the 201 horsepower turbo engine, but it's not really necessary for most Elantra buyers. The Elantra Limited has a console switch for Normal, Smart and Sport driving modes. Smart selects the proper driving mode between Normal and Sport by judging driver habits-"economical" or "aggressive." I found Normal mode to be fine for most driving in typical Chicago area traffic and didn't find that the Smart mode did much anything. The Smart mode is best suited for winding roads.
The ride is supple, although some sharp bumps can be felt. This is a good long-distance car. The steering is precise but should provide more road feel. Handling of my test car was composed in curves, thanks partly to a nicely designed suspension and low-profile 45-series tires on 17-inch alloy wheels. The brake pedal had a nice linear action, and stopping distances with the anti-lock brakes were short. The Elantra is no sports sedan, but always feels as if its on your side.
I tested the 147-horsepower Elantra Limited with the 6-speed automatic. It price sticker showed it listed at $22,600, but the bottom line of my test car was $26,960 because it had the $3,350 Ultimate Package that contains a power sunroof, navigation system, 8-inch easily used touchscreen, power collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, 4.2-inch color TFT color instrument cluster display and an $885 freight charge.
Not that the Limited doesn't come without a bunch of stuff. Features include a push-button start, easily read gauges, heated leather seats, power driver's seat, dual automatic temperature control, wireless charging pad, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, Infinity premium audio system with 8 speakers and a fair amount of storage areas, including door storage pockets, covered console bin, console storage tray and conveniently placed console cupholders.
The Elantra Limited's safety features included forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic collision warning, front, front side impact, side curtain and driver knee airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
One of Hyundai's smartest moves came when it began offering its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty some years ago. Entering spring, the nicely built, solid-feeling 2019 Elantra remains Hyundai's top seller despite increasing popularity of its Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs.