What It Is
A compact sedan that is practical, fuel-efficient, and cargo-friendly.
Lots of features, lots of space.
Noisy on the road.
It's a sedan that does everything you need, but we don’t believe it qualifies as a top contender.
When the redesigned Elantra hit the market for the 2011 model year, it stood out for its bargain price and odd styling. But since then, the compact car has blended into a segment that has become increasingly refined and stylish. There are a number of good options out there, including the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Mazda3, and plenty more. The question is: Can you really go wrong with any of these options?
In our tests, we found that the 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited rated around average in terms of price, performance, cost of ownership, and fuel economy. But there were also a few areas in which this compact car excelled compared to its competition.
What We DroveThe base Elantra starts at $17,200, but we drove the top-of-the-line Limited model. Starting at $21,650, the Elantra Limited offers unique features such as heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, chrome accents, Blue Link connectivity, and a color touchscreen with rearview camera. Our model also included the Technology Package, which addeda larger 7.0-inch touchscreen, navigation, proximity key and push button start, and a tilt-and-slide sunroof. When adding in a destination fee and floor mats, the total cost of the model we drove came out to $25,335.
But how much safety do you get for your money? The 2014 Hyundai Elantra scored five stars in government crash tests. Safety features include electronic stability control, seatbelt pre-tensioners, brake assist, four wheel disc brakes, and hill start assist control. The car also comes with two sets of Latch anchors and three tether anchors on the rear shelf that are easy to use.
The CommuteThe Elantra was born to be a commuter car. Its good fuel economy, practical features, and small size make it perfect for those who simply want to get from point A to point B, right? Most of this is true, considering the Elantra feels decently stable and solid on the road. But we noticed that the Elantra accelerates slowly and allows too much road noise into the cabin. Overall, the Elantra's ride seems a bit unrefined compared to others in its segment. Putting the car into Sport mode makes this small car zippy around turns, but this was a small consolation. Our model came with the smaller, more efficient 1.8-liter engine, so opting for the 2.0-liter would bring significantly more power to the wheels.
Operating the radio on the commute to work was no problem in this car. Our model included a large 7-inch touchscreen and a few basic buttons for volume and climate controls. Fortunately, this made it easy to find everything you need. Lower tier models include a smaller 4.3-inch screen.
The Grocery RunMany people may not think of it, but one of the Elantra's strongest points is its spacious interior. The Elantra beats out the Civic, Focus, and other competitors in terms of its cargo and passenger volume. Trips to the grocery store are easy with the Elantra's large trunk that extends far back to stow plenty of groceries for the whole family.
Thanks to the standard rearview camera, parking is easy, even in the smallest of spaces. The Elantra makes tight turns, which helps it feel like an even smaller car than it actually is. For those who want plenty of interior space without feeling like it, the Elantra should rank highly.
The Weekend FunOur experience driving the Elantra during the morning commute and on long weekend drives was similar. Both times, we managed to get good fuel economy. After Hyundai dropped fuel economy ratings in 2012, the Elantra now comes in at 27/37 mpg city/highway. While commendable, it does not achieve the top fuel economy of the Mazda3 or Honda Civic.
But we didn't spend the whole weekend looking at the fuel gauge. During this time, we also got a better feel for the technology offered in this model. While we love the large touch-capable screen in the Limited model, it isn't necessarily user-friendly. The navigation system is cluttered with information, including a list of future turn-offs. The screen displays turn-by-turn directions from the bottom up, which goes against the natural inclination to read instructions from the top down. It is also slow to recalculate a route should the driver head in the wrong direction.
Bringing along extra guests in the Elantra is easy. Although not brimming with space, the backseat will fit most passengers. Fortunately, the middle seat is a legitimate seat in its own right. And when you don't need that fifth passenger, the seatback folds down to reveal extra cupholders and an armrest. Unfortunately, the seats feel tough and unsupportive, and headroom is limited all around.
SummaryAt the end of our test, we were neither excited nor disappointed with the Elantra Limited. No one feature in this sedan could shape our overall opinion of the model. Like all too often, the Elantra blended into the background of a crowded segment and failed to capture our attention against other competitors. We recommend buyers also take a look at the Honda Civic or Mazda3, as these models offer good fuel economy and a rewarding drive. Those who are serious about the Elantra may want to instead consider the Sport trim level, andalthough it suffers a bit in fuel economy, promises significantly better road performance and all the equipment and features buyers really need.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $25,335
EPA City: 27
EPA Highway: 37
EPA Combined: 31
Cargo Space: groceries for the whole family Estimated Combined Range: 397 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Average