Three years after it debuted at the 2010 Los Angeles auto show, the Hyundai Elantra returns to the California venue thoroughly refreshed. Because almost all of the Elantra's rival compact sedans have been updated in the past few years, Hyundai needed to revamp its top-selling model in order to stay relevant in the fractious automotive segment. The 2014 Hyundai Elantra thus goes on sale in December 2013 with a claimed 75 revisions from top to bottom.
For starters, the 2014 Hyundai Elantra has new front and rear fasciasmeant to present a more aggressive demeanor, new foglights, and a blacked-out rear panel that mimics a diffuser. On Sport and Limited models, new LED front running lights have an elegant, flowing light pipe that produces a thick ribbon of light above the headlights; the taillights use LEDs; and a chrome beltline strip surrounds the windows. On all versions, the front bumper is 0.2 inch longer than before and the rear 0.6 inch longer, which Hyundai says improves crash-test results. Steel wheels are no longer available on any Elantra; all the 15-, 16-, and 17-inch choices are lighter-weight alloys with new designs. Geranium Red and Windy Sea Blue join the exterior color palette.
Changes to the inside were mostly dictated by consumer feedback. Buyers told Hyundai that the old car's climate vents directed air at their knees, so the vents are mounted higher in the 2014 Elantra. The old gated automatic transmission shifter gives way to a traditional straight mechanism with a leather boot, also based on owner input.A backup camera is now standard on the volume SE trim level (previously called GLS), the center armrest is higher, the climate-control knobs have been redesigned, the auto-climate LCD gauges are freshened, and there is even a new "more neutral" beige interior color.
There are also numerous improvements that are hidden from view, mostly to keep noise and vibration out of the cabin. The 2014 Hyundai Elantra has thicker carpeting, new sound-deadening pads on the floor pan, a new windshield cowl that reduces wind noise, sound-absorbing climate ducting, and a full underbody cover.
To improve ride quality, Hyundai has fitted slightly softer front springs to the new Elantra; at the same time, the shock absorbers have been retuned for a more compliant ride. The electric power steering now has a 32-bit (rather than 16-bit) processor,and the automaker says it has better on-center feel and weighting. More important still is the fact that the 2014 Hyundai Elantra has unique power-steering tuning for every chassis configuration and wheel size, whereas the old car had just one compromise configuration for all versions.This is welcome news, as we have repeatedly criticized the Elantra's lackluster steering feedback and ride quality.
On SE and Limited models, the power steering adds a three-mode button on the steering wheel that allows drivers to choose Comfort, Normal, or Sport settings for the assist curve and weighting.
Another significant addition to the 2014 Hyundai Elantra is a new Sport model, which is easily distinguished by unique 17-inch wheels, an exposed chrome exhaust tip, and a subtle trunklid spoiler. Less subtle is the additional power provided by a new 2.0-liter Nu-series direct-injection inline-four engine. It is essentially a stroked version of the 1.8-liter four-cylinder that remains standard on other versions of the Elantra sedan. Ratings of 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque are increases of 25 hp and 23 lb-ft compared with the standard Elantra engine, which is entirely unchanged for 2014.
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Sport also benefits from more aggressive power-steering tuning, a thicker front anti-roll bar, sportier shock absorber tuning, and firmer rear springs compared with other versions of the Elantra.
GT, Coupe Get Nu Engine
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Coupe two-door and GT five-door hatchback receive similar updates to the sedan, and both models adopt the 2.0-liter Nu engine as standard. LED taillights and newer versions of Hyundai's infotainment systems become available on both the Coupe and the GT; the two-door also receives the same interior revisions and sound-reduction measures as the Elantra sedan.
In case all those tweaks aren't enough to sway shoppers, Hyundai Motor America product planning vice president Mike O'Brien has another ace up his sleeve. The 2014 Hyundai Elantra fits three golf bags in its trunk, whereas the Honda Civic sedan can only accommodate two. More seriously, the new Elantra is expected to be one of the most affordable compact sedans on the market, and the addition of more equipment and better interior refinement will only make it a better value proposition. Exact pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date in December.