I find it funny that Hyundai, a Korean car company, is using “Blue” to identify its most fuel-efficient cars. This move reminds me of the Volkswagen BlueMotion models and the AdBlue name for diesel-exhaust after-treatment fluids, both of which are very German. Identifying products as “blue” makes me think of a marine application, and the label could be confusing for consumers who are looking for products to help save the environment, which are more typically referred to as “green.”
I spent an evening with the Elantra Blue and came away reasonably impressed by it. The Elantra itself doesn’t feel significantly cheaper than other cars in this class, and it offers a better audio interface than the Honda Civic. I wasn’t exactly blown away by the Elantra Blue, but that’s not really the point of this car. If you want to own a new car that’s inexpensive, safe, and gets good fuel economy the Elantra Blue fits the bill, but if you’re looking for something small and exciting, there are a few better options.
At highway speeds there wasn’t too much engine, tire, or wind noise, so I was able to use the $325 Bluetooth system, which has no integration with the vehicle’s stereo. If you’re looking for a fully integrated Bluetooth system, the Ford Focus is probably the best bet in this class, but it isn’t available on the base model and is part of a more expensive option package. The Hyundai Bluetooth system might not be as capable as Ford’s system, but it’s still a useful solution for people who live in states that mandate hands-free cell-phone use in cars.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
Unlike Phil, I thing that the Elantra Blue did feel significantly cheaper than many of its competitors, particularly because of its flat, uncomfortable front seats and extra-hard interior materials, most notably on the inner door panels. The insulation-free trunk lid also was light to the point of feeling very cheap.
Still, I agree wholeheartedly that this is a very good, inexpensive, thrifty, appliancelike new car. I might add that the Elantra offers an exceptional amount of overall interior space, especially in the back seats, for the price. And although the Blue’s revised gear ratios take a bit of getting used to, the gearbox itself had a pretty decent feel — it’s not Honda-like, but it’s not terrible. The steering felt pretty tight as well.
One more thing: I’m not sure if it’s a Blue-edition special feature or not, but I haven’t seen a fuel gauge this large since I drove a 1980s four-cylinder Chrysler minivan. I don’t know why Hyundai chose to provide only a tachometer, speedometer, and fuel gauge, but I suppose it helps emphasize the vehicle’s fuel level more than usual.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
We spend so much time praising our Four Seasons Hyundai Genesis that it’s become easy to forget that Hyundai is still best known as a purveyor of cheap, no-frills transportation. This Elantra Blue, decent though it may be, is a clear reminder of the Korean brand’s humble roots.
I’ll agree with Rusty and say the Elantra feels quite a bit cheaper than its Japanese competitors. I noticed it mainly in ride and isolation. It’s not overly loud or harsh, but on the highway it just doesn’t feel like there’s all that much suspension between the hard, unsupportive driver’s seat and the road. Of course, the Elantra is a good deal less expensive than a similarly equipped Civic or Mazda 3, so it’s hard to complain.
The Elantra’s biggest competition may now come from its cousins over at Kia. The new Forte gets right down in the mud with the Elantra in terms of base price and has the same ten-year warranty, but it offers more refinement and power along with a dose of style.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
If you replaced the “Blue” suffix with “thrift,” you might have a little more semblance of what this car is all about. Not only is the Elantra remarkably inexpensive to purchase (although you will want to spring for the $1700 comfort package option), it’s inexpensive to operate. Thanks to some small powertrain refinements and low-rolling-resistance tires, the Elantra is able to eke out an EPA rating of 35 mpg on the highway – the same as the Honda Fit (the Elantra’s 26 mpg city figure isn’t far off from the Fit’s 28, by the way).
Also identical to the Fit: the price tag. $14,000 will either buy you a base Elantra Blue or a base Fit. As equipped at around the $16,000 mark, our tester carried comparable equipment (and pricing) to a Fit Sport.
Which would I chose? The Fit may have a little more versatility and nicer materials inside (those in the Elantra are generally as hard as carbide), but I tip my hat in favor of the Hyundai. I was impressed at how quiet the car was (some wind noise, but road and engine noise were well-insulated), and how composed and smooth — even floaty, at times — the car was during long stretches of highway driving. I found the front seats perfectly comfortable, but they could use some additional bolstering.
On the accessory front, make sure you spring for that $35 iPod cable if you plan on plugging one into the car. I was able to play songs through the iPod’s USB dock cable, but the radio wanted to display bizarre title names, disable artist and album searching, and grouped all tracks into folders. Using Hyundai’s accessory cable, however, completely rectified the problem.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
2010 Hyundai Elantra Blue
What the Elantra BLUE is (from the media site):
“To make the Elantra ‘Blue,’ engineers added a ‘smart’ alternator management system, lower-friction engine components, revised transmission gear ratios, engine calibration changes, and a shift indicator to last year’s Elantra GLS manual. This new, high-mileage Elantra will be indentified with unique ‘Blue’ badging. From the Blue edition, the rest of the Elantra line receives its lower-friction engine components, ‘smart’ alternator management system, and an improved lock-up torque converter to maximize fuel economy at highway speeds.”
Base price (with destination): $14,145
Price as tested: $16,300
5-speed manual transmission
Dual front/side curtain airbags
Heated power mirrors
60/40 split folding rear seat
Options on this vehicle:
Comfort Package – $1,700
-AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers
Carpeted Floor Mats – $95
iPod cable – $35
Bluetooth – $325
26 / 35 / 29 mpg
Size: 2.0L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 138 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Weight: 2751 lb
15 x 6.5-inch steel wheels with covers
195/65R15 all-season tires