2021 Hyundai Elantra
by John Davis
Compact cars have come a long way. No longer just entry-level choices for first time new car buyers, compact sedans now offer just about every comfort and convenience feature found on larger family sedans and even luxury cars. Hyundai’s Elantra has played a big part in that transformation. This year sees the launch of the 7th generation Elantra, a car that has been a staple in the Hyundai lineup since the early 1990s.
Hyundai has never been afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to the styling of its sedans. The new Elantra sports a trendy coupe-like shape, but is also quite aggressive, with a wide and low face, and severely chiseled body sides.
Inside, continuing the Hyundai tradition, buyers will find a long list of standard features including steering wheel accessory controls, Hyundai’s Drive Mode Select, and even wireless connection for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All are set in a stylish, well crafted interior space. Upgrades include upping the infotainment screen from 8- to 10-inches, wireless phone charging, and a digital key that allows you to fully operate your car with your smartphone.
Interior room is more akin to midsize cars than traditional compacts. There’s plenty of room to stretch out even in the rear seat. Trunk space is also cavernous. However, 60/40 split/folding seat backs are only standard in top Limited and N Line, as lower trims come with a one-piece folding bench.
Most Elantras draw power from a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter I4 engine that outputs 147-horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque. It works with Hyundai’s own variable automatic transmission. It occupies the middle ground between two new Elantra offerings, a 139–horsepower hybrid that rates up to 56 miles-per-gallon, and a 201–horsepower 1.6-liter turbo in a new Elantra N Line that sports either a 7-speed DCT or 6-speed manual.
At our test track, we found our 2.0-liter Elantra Limited to be a little sluggish off the line. But, once it got going a little, power did manage to build steadily. Still, we waltzed to 60 mph in lengthy 8.4-seconds. The engine can sound a little whiny at extended high rpm, but for the most part stays pretty subdued. Hyundai’s Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission is one of the better CVTs out there; its simulated shifts even fooling one of our crew into thinking it was a true automatic.
Hyundai has certainly upped their game in recent years when it comes to handling. And while there’s too much body roll here to be considered a sports car; there’s a good amount of feel through the wheel, and only moderate amounts of understeer. Limited trim’s 17-inch wheels certainly help the cause. But, where it matters most, in daily driving, the Elantra is very comfortable, eminently practical, and is fully up to date with the necessary safety features.
For our complete road test of the Hyundai Elantra be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #4049 that begins airing August 13, 2021. For a listing of the PBS public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About the Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons on the MotorTrend cable channel. The show can also be streamed on PBS Living through Amazon’s Prime Video.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is bigger and better than the previous Elantra. But, that’s to be expected for any new generation of vehicle. Still, it delivers exactly what compact cars are supposed to deliver to the entry-level buyers that they are intended for and more. The latest Hyundai Elantra is an excellent sedan and it deserves to be a rousing success.