2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

The Elantra Touring is one of the most pleasantly surprising vehicles I've driven in quite some time. Perhaps most surprising is the wagon's interior space, particularly in the back seats. When the lease on my wife's Kia Sportage comes up next summer, the Elantra Touring is definitely going to be near the top of our short list.

This spacious test vehicle has lots of desirable features such as a sunroof, Bluetooth, heated seats, and an iPod connector, but the price barely crests $20,000. The five-speed manual isn't Honda-slick, but it is greatly improved from past Hyundai/Kia efforts, and it's hugely advantageous in getting the most performance (and fuel economy) out of the uninspiring 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

As Evan noted, the Elantra Touring's handling does err on the side of touring, but this Hyundai still rides, handles, and steers quite nicely for what it is. In fact, I think this car handles better than any other Hyundai I've driven, save perhaps the tiny Accent coupe.

On the negative side: I'm not quite sold on the strange exterior styling (although it does speak to this car's European roots), and I was shocked that the rear washer fluid is deposited Niagara Falls-style.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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