All-new 2021Hyundai Elantra continues to step it up.
There was a time when shoppers of compact sedans had to consider boring, generic and plain as built-in features of the cars they were buying. Thankfully, those days are long gone. Case in point – the Hyundai Elantra. Fifteen years ago, the Elantra was a simple car, with its main goal being to get you from point A to point B. Over the years, the Elantra has grown and received some nice features and has even added some performance. For 2021, the Elantra is new from the ground up – and it has stepped up its game.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is slightly longer and wider than before and has a sleeker roofline. Angular with pointed-like styling lines along its sides make it stand out in its class which is dominated by Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas.
Also new for 2021 is the fact that Hyundai is offering four different models of the Elantra, some taking aim at particular markets. For those into fuel economy, the Elantra Hybrid, a first for the Elantra, should prove interesting as Hyundai says it should get a combined EPA rating of 50 mpg. Those who like to live a little wilder and are into performance sedans, the Elantra N Line with its turbocharged 1.6 liter four that makes 201 horsepower should go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Civic Si and Jetta GLI. And then there is the over-the-top Elantra, the Elantra N that features a turbocharged 2.0 liter four making 276 horsepower. Paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, this Elantra should prove that Hyundai can and will produce fast fun cars.
But the basis of this review will be the Elantra that Hyundai will sell the most of – the regular Elantra with its 2.0-liter four cylinder that makes 147 horsepower and uses a CVT transmission to send the power to its front wheels. It is available as the base SE, the mid-level SEL and the top-of-the-line Limited.
MSRP for the SE is right under $21,000 – and for that you get a lot. An 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless smartphone ready, and dual USB ports kick things off. And no need to worry about which safety features to pick – Hyundai includes them all in every Elantra, like forward collision mitigation, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic assist, lane keeping assist and even driver attention warning that issues alerts if it feels the driver is becoming fatigued.
Want a few more features? The mid-range SEL is the way to go and is how the test car arrived. It adds to the above SE 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with push-button start and dual-zone automatic climate control. Adaptive cruise control, heated front seats, a full 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster display, 17-inch wheels and Hyundai’s Digital Key which allows smartphones as a key) are available – and are all included on the test car. It has an MSRP of $25,100.
The Limited includes everything that has been mentioned along with leather seating, a larger touchscreen (10.25 inches) and an enhanced automatic braking system.
There is a lot to take in when first entering the new Elantra. The 10.3-inch touchscreen flows into a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both of which should satisfy those into the latest technology. Passenger room has grown slightly, particularly in the rear seat. Unfortunately, the rear seat area is quite bare – no vents and no USB ports (although there are 2 USB ports up front).
Behind the wheel, the Elantra drives well – it’s smooth, quiet and has enough power to get by. Change it into Sport mode and the digital gauges come alive as they change to red, but to be honest, not much more excitement comes from under the hood. But that’s ok – that’s why Hyundai has those different models – which should fill the void that the regular Elantra leaves.
Existing Elantra owners will most likely embrace the new Elantra – as it picks up where the old one left off. And with its unique and handsome styling, I can see others not used to looking at the Elantra, giving it a second chance.
Years ago, for those in the market for a compact sedan, being boring was part of the package. Thanks to cars like the Elantra – that is no longer the case. Thank goodness!
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL
Base Price: $20,900.00
Price as Tested: $25,100.00
Layout: front-engine / front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4-cylinder
Transmission: CVT automatic
Horsepower: 147 hp
Torque: 132 ft-lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 31 city / 41 highway mpg
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