In driving the all new 2017 Hyundai Elantra this week, we are shown that the brand from Korea is not only getting better at building cars, but maturing in their craft.
Almost all-new for 2017, the Hyundai Elantra received a redesign inside and out with new styling that comes off almost as a scaled down Sonata sedan. The latest generation of the brand’s styling DNA is crisper and less swoopy than before, more mature, more conservative.
This translates to the hexagonal grille and squared off proportions up front, but gains in premium content do up the ante such as HID “light-bending” headlamps and stacked LED daytime running lights on our Limited tester.
At the rear, the Elantra retains some of the style from the last generation in its curb appeal, but gets new tail lamps with three-element LED lamps that really look sharp at night. On our tester was 17-alloy wheels, steel wheels and hub-caps are standard on the base grade SE.
Inside you will find much of the same design transformation with a cabin that like the exterior seems lifted right from the Hyundai Sonata but scaled down a few ticks. It has squarely conservative design with boxy proportions and lots of straight lines.
Though it’s more vanilla in its presentation, the cabin is larger and more comfortable. The power driver seat offered a wide range of adjustment and provided a firmly supportive feel. The leather surfaces did feel a little rubbery however, and the passenger still has a manual seat.
Rear seat passengers will have middle of the class space, but enjoy in the Limited trim grade heated seats which isn’t often found in this class. Not found here however are rear mounted HVAC vents which some competitors have.
Controls are well laid out and clearly legible, the switchgear of a high quality tactile feel and look throughout. Materials here and there are still low grade economy car plastic but they did throw a bone or two with soft touch pads on the doors and the top of the dash.
Storage is impressive with large door pockets and a deep console bin under the arm rest. Ahead of the shifter is a closeable bin for your smart phone with two 12V outlets, a USB and an auxiliary port.
The infotainment system is the top of the line touchscreen audio and navigation unit that has full connectivity with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its sound quality is ok, but not leading among its peers but using the system is however top of the class.
Powering the Hyundai Elantra for 2017 is an all-new 2.0 liter four cylinder engine with 147 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission here, though it is available with a six-speed manual in the SE trim.
The engine is more refined and quiet than the last generation Elantra which is a major plus. Though power is not terrible impressive, its fuel economy was. The EPA rates it at 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined. We achieved 34 mpg combined in our week with it with the AC on at all times. Not bad.
The ride and handling is also improved by way of increased use of high-strength steel in the body structure, more sound deadening in the floor, firewall, and A-pillars as well as some additional bushings added to the suspension sub-frames.
The net result is a quieter ride at speed on the highway and around town on rougher pavement. Steering remains a bit flaccid in feel but is light enough in its weighting to make the car feel somewhat playful in your daily slog.
Our Elantra was equipped with the Ultimate Package that includes radar based cruise control and automatic emergency braking. These are features fast becoming available on many cars, and we still put a caution on them.
In the case of the Elantra we had an instance during a drive at sunset hours on a local highway with the cruise control on where the system slammed on the brakes at speed because it thought traffic pylons along the shoulder presented an immediate crash danger. We were able to over ride it, but it proves these systems are far from perfected.
Overall though, we were impressed with the Elantra as it is much improved over the last generation in quality feel, comfort and even styling appeal that can be called more grown up. Priced at $27,710 we could point to some competitors who offer better, but at its base price it really shines.