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#4

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $10,520 - $14,172
Original MSRP: $14,945 - $20,195
MPG: 28 City / 38 Hwy
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2011 Hyundai Elantra Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Hyundai Elantra offers accurate steering, good braking, a modestly-powered engine and great fuel economy ratings. Reviewers are very impressed with the Elantra’s steering and braking capabilities, which are on point with popular cars in the class like the Ford Fiesta, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.

Reviewers say the 2011 Elantra isn’t fun to drive like the Mazda3, but defend the Elantra’s lack of power and precision. The Elantra isn’t designed to be a sports car. Rather, it’s a working man’s commuter, and it fills that role very well.

  • "Overall, there's more than enough oomph for daily driving duties, on highway or off." -- Motor Trend
  • "Isolation from road noise could be better. The Elantra relays coarseness through its structure in a way that reminds you that, yes, you're driving a car priced somewhere in the teens." -- Edmunds
  • "On our routes, which saw us plowing away along grooved freeways, expansion-jointed roads, chopped up asphalt and even the occasional sandy shoreline parking lot, we experienced one of the best compact/mid-sized rides we have had behind the wheel." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power

For 2011, Hyundai updated the Elantra’s engine. Both the GLS and Limited trims come with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS trim. The automatic is optional on the GLS and standard on the Limited.

The Elantra’s engine capabilities fit right in with its top competitors: the Honda Civic, Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze. Reviewers say the Elantra performs well when you consider that it only has a 1.8-liter engine that produces 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. Gears shift smoothly, and the engine is refined. If you’re looking for a comfortable commuter car, reviewers think the Elantra deserves a spot at the top of your shopping list.

There’s one more thing that makes the Elantra an ideal pick: its fuel economy ratings of 28/38 mpg city/highway for both the manual and automatic transmissions. 

  • "Fortunately, gearchanges from the Elantra's autobox are creamy smooth and downshifts are served up willingly when needed. No stodginess or hunting here." -- Edmunds
  • "Whether cruising along at 70 or wringing it out to redline, it never exhibited that thrashy feeling you get with lesser four-bangers. The only time we noticed a significant power deficit was while trying to pass on the freeway during a hill climb." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Elantra is a modestly powered car, no question, but so are most of its competitors like the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Corolla. There are times when you need a heavy foot to pick up the pace such as when merging on the highway, but it gets around well at city speeds and on rural two-lane roads. Even when revved, the engine sounds refined, with no buzzing sounds coming from the engine bay." -- Cars.com
  • "That said, after ducking behind the wheel of the automatic-equipped Limited, we had a hard time finding an argument for the row-your-own Elantra. Shifts from the six-speed automatic are surprisingly quick and smooth for a vehicle in this price range. Slightly shorter gearing and the transmission's ability to keep the engine in its power band at all times make for a compact that feels much quicker than its horsepower should allow. It's a completely different world from its manual-transmission counterpart." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

While the industry is quick to note that the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is no Mazda3, reviewers are pleased with its handling and braking capabilities. Steering is precise, and braking is solid. There are a few complaints about body roll and an overzealous power steering system, but overall, the industry finds the Elantra a well-suited daily commuter.

  • "And it's more of the same from behind the wheel. The steering is path-accurate. The brake pedal feels positive, with immediate bite and response. Handling is excellent on smooth surfaces. The ride quality is surprisingly supple, with excellent body control. The cabin is quiet." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "MacPherson struts still hold up the front end but a torsion beam replaces the previous model's independent rear. Engineers went for comfort in the setup, but there is little undue roll as a result. The electric power steering is just a tad overzealous but you adjust to it soon enough." -- AutoWeek
  • "It's nimble and there's a solid amount of grip on tap when you bend it into a corner. The fully electric steering doesn't have Mazda 3 levels of driver engagement, but it is very precise and certainly feels better resolved than the Sonata's odd tiller." -- Edmunds
  • "In more mundane driving situations like cruising on the highway, ride comfort skews more toward a Civic than a Corolla." -- Cars.com
  • "Hyundai may have styled the 2011 Elantra with something of a sporty bent, but make no mistake: This isn't a compact corner carver." -- Autoblog

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