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First Drive: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited


What happened to the good ole days when a compact was just a car that got you from point A to point B? When it was an affordable form of transportation with no frills, no options – it was just a car? Now compacts are virtually mini-premium off-springs of their larger siblings and in this case, we’re talking about the all new Hyundai Elantra.

Designed to resemble its bigger Sonata brother, the Elantra is more mature, more sedate and even more tasteful from certain angles. Hyundai ditched its radical design scheme that put the Elantra on the map to have a more serious approach and looking at our tester here, in its light gray suit – I’d say we’re taking this pretty seriously.

Three variations make up the Elantra’s line-up – an SE, an Eco, and a Limited. Each one offers separate packages to upgrade and personalize your Elantra in any form you want. The Eco is the one out of the group that comes standard with Hyundai’s newest engine – 1.4-liter Turbo and seven-speed dual clutch transmission. While the other two make due with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter and a city hopping 147-horsepower four-cylinder paired with a six-speed transmission.

We won’t harp on the Elantra’s unenthusiastic engine too much, it is after all, a point A to point B kind of car – just with some special features. It takes nearly 9 seconds to achieve highway speeds, so if you’re expecting thrills – look somewhere else. Its 147-horsepower is just enough to move this lightweight around town – while we’d favor the responsiveness of the seven-speed dual clutch found in other models, the six-speed transmission in our tester does the job just fine – but only just. Shift points are a little slow and if we move the drive mode into Sport or Eco, things don’t really adjust too much of its driving dynamics.

Chassis refinement is the Elantra’s strongest suit here. Its poise in its composure and has a stable balance in its functionality. It’s something we’d expect from the Germans. Driving comfort is adequate for its class providing a subtle comfortable ride quality with some pleasant road feedback over bumps. The steering wheel had a nice overall feel in its demeanor but still lacks communication for the road. And our featured 17-inch wheels did provide some unwanted road noise too.

Once again Hyundai is priding themselves on fuel efficiency – perhaps that’s why our car was slow. EPA rates 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined – our week saw 30 mpg and 400 miles of range on regular fuel. Not bad. The Eco trim is said to see 39 mpg highway – still not quite the 40 Hyundai once claimed, but they’re getting there.

Our sampler here came decked out with every option available. Starting out as Limited for $22,350 with some cool standard features like Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Push Button Start. Then we spent $2500 on the Tech Package that adds things like Navigation, Infinity Premium Audio, Sunroof, and Heated Rear Seats. Then we added another $1900 for the Ultimate Package which thanks to Hyundai’s marketing scheme, can only be added if you spring for the Tech Package – this adds Adaptive HID headlights, Automatic Braking, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Memory Seat and Automatic High Beams. This of course doesn’t make our tester cheap, pushing $28k – yikes!

The new Elantra is everything to be excited about whether opting for the lower SE or the higher Limited. It’s got sharp lines and an appealing design – something to be proud to drive and own. With our Limited here it was even more eye catching featuring LED daytime lights and stylish LED taillights. Most of all though, it’s the interior of our Limited that outshines it competitions. It feels more upscale than its price point – soft touch materials are found throughout – switch gear has a solid tactile feel – even when we shut the door, the solidness of the sound just felt like quality.

Because our tester was the Limited, there was no shortage in features – our black leather interior for example was comfortable and could easily fit four adults. The driver seat was power adjustable and both driver and passenger seats were heated with dual-zone climate control system.

Hyundai has brought their ‘A’ game when it comes to Technology – the Elantra is loaded with so much tech it’s like a typhoon. First the 8-inch touch screen infotainment system and Navigation. It’s hands down one of the best interfaces in on the market – extremely user friendly – very responsive – and it features Apple Car Plan and Android Auto. Then we have the Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control that in some cars can be intrusive – but here its smooth – it goes with the flow – it isn’t jerky or abrasive. It simply adjusts as needed and moves on – barely even notice it’s there. There’s even reverse tilt mirrors – fancy.

Let’s face it, these are different times and a compact car is no longer seen as just a form of affordable transportation for the average income household – they’re seen as cars for people that don’t need the larger mid-size sedan, but still want all the same options and amenities. The new Hyundai Elantra takes this roll to another level with its refined chassis and latest tech. You’ll just have to test drive one for yourself, and be the judge of its $28k price tag is worth it to you.

Price (As Tested):
2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited: $22,350
Destination: $835
Performance Specs:
2.0-liter Four Cylinder – 147 -horsepower/132lb-ft of torque – 0-60MPH: ±9.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 28/32/37 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average:  30 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 400 Miles
Featured Options:
Carpeted Floor Mats: $125
Ultimate Package: $1,900
Tech Package: $2,500
Grand Total: $27,710


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