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#14

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $17,250 - $22,600
Invoice: $16,734 - $21,610
MPG: 27 City / 37 Hwy
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Hyundai Elantra Performance

The 2015 Hyundai Elantra pleases auto writers with controlled handling, good fuel economy and a responsive automatic transmission. However, many say that the Elantra’s base engine could use more power, and that its ride gets unsettled quickly over imperfect roads.

  • "The 2015 Hyundai Elantra splits the difference between the sporty-driving Mazda3 and Ford Focus, and the more mainstream and comfortable Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The Elantra is noticeably quiet at freeway speeds and is indeed one of the quieter cars in its segment in this regard." -- Edmunds
  • “The car's structure still feels a little less solid than the best in this segment -- you can feel a difference on rough roads -- and we're not sold on the Elantra as a driver's car.” -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The base Hyundai Elantra sedan comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 145 horsepower, while Elantra Sport and GT models come with a 173-horspower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional with either engine. The EPA reports that the 2015 Elantra gets up to 28/38 mpg city/highway, which is good for an affordable compact car.

Auto writers agree that the Elantra’s base engine delivers impressive fuel economy, but they point out that the base Elantra is slow to accelerate, especially in comparison with compact cars like the Mazda3. As a result, some recommend the more powerful 2.0-liter engine, though they say that it uses a bit more fuel. The optional six-speed automatic transmission earns praise, as reviewers write that it is remarkably responsive, and makes good use of the engine’s power.

  • "Also, although the Elantra's 1.8-liter engine returns pretty good fuel economy (a combined EPA-estimated 31 mpg) its acceleration is lackluster compared to more sprightly rivals like the Mazda 3. The Elantra Sport's larger engine provides quicker acceleration, but fuel economy drops as a result." -- Edmunds 
  • "The transmissions do their best to make the most of the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder's 145 horsepower, but if that's not enough, the Elantra Sport sedan … and the Elantra GT hatchback are all available with the 173-horsepower 2.0-liter engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We prefer the automatic transmission, as it serves up some of the most responsive downshifts you'll find at any price." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Handling and Braking

The base 2015 Elantra sedan is front-wheel drive and comes with a selectable three-mode steering system, which adjusts steering effort for Comfort, Normal and Sport modes. Some critics say that the 2015 Elantra is surprisingly nimble, while others report that it offers controlled handling, but isn’t particularly fun to drive. The Elantra earns praise for its comfortable and quiet ride in normal driving conditions. However, critics note that the ride becomes unsettled over imperfect roads, and some report that there’s little difference between the adjustable steering system’s three modes.    

  • "Yet even in everyday traffic, all Elantras are comfortable and well insulated from road and wind noise, especially for a compact car." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The one gripe we have here regards the car's ride quality over broken pavement -- it can be rather harsh over bigger bumps and potholes, making the Elantra feel unrefined compared to several key rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "On the one hand, the car feels nimble on the road, carving through corners with unexpected grace -- particularly atop the available sport-tuned suspension. But on the other hand, the Elantra's chassis quivers on rough pavement, falling short of the solidity standard set by stalwarts such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The electric power steering offers three settings that adjust weight, on-center feel and torque-angle build. We tried them all on winding roads and were hard-pressed to feel the difference." --AutoWeek (2013)
Review Last Updated: 9/2/14

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