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Avg. Price Paid:$6,425 - $8,039
Original MSRP: $13,970 - $17,670
MPG: 24 City / 33 Hwy
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2008 Hyundai Elantra Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Hyundai Elantra was new.

Most reviewers agree that the 2008 Hyundai Elantra offers adequate -- but not stellar -- performance for its class. Automobile Magazine writes, "The Elantra isn't a sport sedan, but like a Ford Focus , it always feels composed, even when you throw the corners of Mulholland Highway at it."

Car and Driver thinks the Elantra has "limited appeal in fun-to-drive terms."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Hyundai Elantra's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 133 pound-feet of torque and delivers 132 horsepower. Car and Driver points out that this "is a bit off the class leaders, meaning straight-line performance is merely average," though About.com found "plenty of power for hills and freeway merges." Edmunds says the engine "isn't as refined as those found in its Japanese competitors, but it's surprisingly responsive and returns pretty good fuel economy."

The Auto Channel says that the standard five-speed manual transmission "adds to the enjoyment factor, with good shift linkage. Keep it up around the torque peak for maximum acceleration." A four-speed automatic is available, though Car and Driver calls it one of the vehicle's "low" points. Shifting on the Elantra also had mixed results. While Car and Driver found "clutch and shifter agreeably smooth in manual-transmission models," Edmunds says, "Clutch engagement with manual transmission is tricky." MSN calls acceleration "lively, but the manual transmission calls for a downshift from overdrive fifth gear to fourth or third gear for the best passing times on highways." Cars.com adds, "Passing at highway speeds requires a downshift or two, and even then it takes patience and timing."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the automatic transmission of the 2008 Hyundai Elantra gets 25 miles per gallon in the city, whereas Elantras equipped with a manual transmission get 24 mpg in the city. Both transmissions get 33 mpg on highways. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it gets the "most fuel for the money," and Kelley Blue Book praises its "high fuel efficiency."

Handling and Braking

While some reviewers were irked by shifting problems with the Hyundai Elantra, they generally noted a positive fun-to-drive factor. Edmunds calls the Elantra "fun to drive, which is quite a feat for a car in this price bracket." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution agrees, saying, "Take it out on a winding road and check out its rigid suspension and precise cornering ability." TopSpeed.com mentions a "comfortable ride." About.com goes even further with, "Joy, oh, joy! What a joy the Elantra is to drive! The Elantra is peppy and light on its feet. It was so good that my co-driver and I had to keep reminding each other that it only cost $14,000."

Edmunds notes a "good steering response," though Car and Driver found that the "vague steering" affected the ride and handling. The SE trim's electronic-assist steering got a positive response, with The Auto Channel calling it "light, but not too light," and Edmunds writes, it "produces steering efforts that seem to vary unexpectedly, but… always felt right to us." But MSN thinks the electronic steering "feels artificial and overly light at lower speeds."

Critics in general liked the handling. New Car Test Drive notes it is "more spirited," writing, "the Elantra is surprisingly, pleasantly, game…. When pushed beyond its limits, it didn't do anything unpredictable or dangerous." Kelley Blue Book calls the handling "far more responsive than the previous version," though ultimately thinks "ride and performance are average."

The Elantra's MacPherson strut suspension has coil springs and gas shock absorbers. New Car Test Drive says, "The suspension engineers have done something right," and MSN thinks it "provides a comfortable ride and better handling." However, Car and Driver found the suspension "a little too light, too much like a floaty compact Buick." And Cars.com, referring to the engine noise already mentioned, says the suspension provides "little in the way of sound deadening, so there's plenty of road noise at highway speeds."

Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard on the Elantra, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes these "are found only on uplevel versions of most of the Elantra's competitors if they are offered at all." And Cars.com reports, "They delivered sure-footed stopping power." Edmunds thinks "the [brake's] benefits lie in fade resistance and emergency maneuvering rather than sheer stopping power" and mentions, "our test vehicle stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet, a fraction shorter than the Honda's 130 feet but not quite to the standard set by the Mazda 3 's 118 feet." The Chicago Sun-Times observes, "The brake pedal has a nice linear action for consistently smooth stops."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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