2018 Hyundai Elantra Review in Albuquerque

2018 Hyundai Elantra Review and Comparison in Albuquerque, NM

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra sets new standards for compact cars--by being a not-quite-compact car

There's a good reason that the compact car is one of the country's most popular options (even though the SUV is making a comeback thanks to low fuel prices) and it's not just the typically sub-$20,000 price tag for a brand-new small sedan. The average compact is larger and gives you a bit more room to stretch out than an eco-maniacal subcompact, but it's small enough to still sit comfortably among fuel-efficient commuters. It's an ideal choice for families, first-time car buyers, students, and those of us whose parking spot at the office is not much larger than the stretch from mirror to mirror.

While the Hyundai Elantra isn't quite "larger than life" in the grand scheme of auto design and function, it is one of the most spacious and comfortable compact sedans on the market today. The first model went into production in 1990, and since then, the Elantra has always been known as a practical, economical, and modest car. Thanks to some recent updates to its exterior, interior, and performance, it's a bit more refined than its predecessor, and is taking positive steps toward being a class-leader.

Affordable price tags on the Elantra SE and the aptly-named Elantra Value keep this attractive compact car well within the reaches of budget-constricted buyers who still yearn for some fancy features, but the wide range of models--including the Elantra Eco, Limited, and the high-performance Elantra Sport--give buyers and lessees the ability to explore a greater variety of options.

Keep in mind though, the Elantra is Hyundai's smallest and entry-level sedan, so even with some features and a value package, it's still your basic compact car. Shoppers with a bit of walking-around money might consider the midsize Sonata, or the premium Azera. But if you're just looking for a nice, comfortable, and fairly attractive four-door commuter car, you can find a good partner in this well-equipped sedan.

A standout, premium style sets it apart

Hyundai's catchy tagline that they've been using for the newest Elantra is "Not just new. Better." Short, punchy, and to the point: but can they back up that claim?

You won't notice any radical differences in the new sixth generation Elantra as compared to the fifth generation models, but the changes are noticeable and eye-catching in a mature, unassuming way. A new chassis build, new headlights, and a subtle rear lip pushes for a sportier, bolder sedan design that is at the very least expressing its desire to shake off the "boring car" vibes that we all too often see in the compact segment. The 2017 model keeps Hyundai's classic sharply-sloping roof that allows its cars to masquerade as almost coupe-like, and the cabin is distinctly reminiscent of last year's car, albeit with better seat bolsters for drivers who like to really sink in on long trips.

But even though the sixth generation doesn't move all that far away from the fifth generation in terms of design, the Elantra is still a well-built car with a modern design that can easily outclass many of its cheaper, blockier competitors among the small-sedan market. What might be the most standout characteristic of the Elantra is how little it needs to change year-over-year to stay

Peppy power for a compact

The Elantra features a powertrain that's unusual for a compact, because while most small, entry-level four-doors give shoppers the simple choice of manual or automatic, paired to a single inline four, this car can be equipped with one of three interesting options. The base 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, found on the Elantra SE, Value, and Limited, is simple and clean. It won't knock your socks off, but it will get you to work, to the store, to a movie downtown, and back home without causing much fuss. The 128-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine, available only on the Elantra Eco, is a little under-powered compared to the other options, but it offers stellar fuel economy (up to 40 mpg highway) while the standard base engine only returns about 33 mpg highway.

If talk of MPGs and fuel efficiency is causing you to yawn and scroll away, though, don't do that quite yet. There's one more option on the table that the Elantra saves for just this occasion: a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine. It's only available on the Elantra Sport, and that trim level doesn't come as cheaply as the Value model, as you may imagine; but with over 200 horsepower coming from a car that has a curb weight of somewhere under 3,000 pounds, that's pretty impressive.

A commuter with class

Even if you don't choose the comparatively high-performance Sport trim, you can still find yourself in a practical and fun little car. Hyundai's Elantra has scratched and clawed its way into the US list of top ten best-selling cars, so there's little doubt that it's a pretty nice car to drive for the price Even for the low base prices on models like the Elantra Value and Eco, you get a lot of features and equipment for the money, including a seven-inch touchscreen, integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (as long as you have a compatible smartphone), heated fronts seats, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, LED lighting, a blind spot monitoring system, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Browse your way through more trim levels and package options for leather seats, integrated memory seats, heated rear seats (a feature that you can't even get in some pricier midsize cars), and a hands-free smart trunk. And while a fancy trunk may not be on your must-haves list, it's an easy enough option to add--and just think of the last time you were struggling to get a single finger loose on your "one trip only" walk out of the grocery store.

How safe is it? Just compare it to other compacts

Because the IIHS has been testing models equipped with optional safety and security assistance features, more and more cars have been excelling at their crash avoidance tests. And that's a great thing for consumers--if they can shell out for those extra features that earned the Elantra a "Superior" rating for front crash prevention. Fortunately, no matter which model you choose, the Elantra earned "Good" ratings (the highest available) for crashworthiness in small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats.

The Elantra is also one of the few cars across the industry--not just within its segment--that scored a "Good" on the 'Headlights' section of the IIHS' crash avoidance and mitigation testing, when equipped with optional equipment. Said optional equipment is, of course, the surprisingly futuristic Dynamic Bending Lights, which are able to adapt to curves in the road as you drive, so the light is where you need it: the direction in which you're heading, versus just the direction your car's grille is pointing. And while this may not be the kind of fun fact that gets your heart pounding or your palms sweating, it makes more of a difference than you'd think on dark roads deep off of the regularly-traveled roads that you're used to.

Its warranty coverage is unbeatable

Hyundai is legendary among the auto industry for its impressive vehicle warranty coverage. While its new vehicle limited warranty is fairly standard--up to 5 years and up to 60,000 miles--the Elantra's 7-year anti-perforation warranty offers unlimited miles to travel, and provides peace of mind to drivers who live near large bodies of salt water, or who travel during the winters on salty roads. But where the big guns really come out? The powertrain.

The Elantra comes standard with its parent's 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. It's the best in its segment, which makes the Elantra one of the best values in its class in terms of automaker coverage and potential cost-to-own.

The Hyundai Elantra wrap-up

The Elantra is still a strong middle-of-the-pack runner, as it always has been. Hyundai will always be racing to play catch-up with the giants like Honda and Toyota; but so will just about every other automaker out there. But ask anyone who's driven one of the new Gen-6ers around town, and you'll hear about a lot of surprises: performance, comfort, tech, and features, all at a price that, you guessed it, is surprising.

If you're shopping on a budget of less than $30,000, you can't do much better than the Hyundai Elantra Sport, with over 200 horsepower, or the Hyundai Elantra Limited, with a ridiculous range of features and packages. If you prefer to stay under $20,000 for a new car, the Elantra SE is a pretty good value. It prides practicality and sensibility over pomp and sex appeal, but--if you're limited to the constraints of your bank account--you probably do too.

Looking for great value and luxury features with a warranty that covers you for longer? The Hyundai Elantra is your guy.

Compare the Hyundai Elantra vs the Competition