With the new Elantra, it’s as if Hyundai has shrunk the Sonata in a dryer, resulting in a car that’s slightly tighter fitting but otherwise identical. Look around the nicely appointed cabin, and you’ll find a similar arrangement of controls, the same navigation system, and best of all, the same impressive mix of materials.
The Elantra also drives much like its big brother. That means confident, if not quite athletic responses to driver inputs, accurate steering, and smooth-as-glass shifts from the six-speed automatic. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder sounds a bit wheezy but is in fact nothing of the sort, as the Elantra feels much faster than the spec sheet’s 145-hp figure would lead you to expect. Credit another number on the spec sheet: 2877. That’s the Elantra’s curb weight with an automatic transmission and all the trimmings (a manual-equipped base model weighs in at a truly impressive 2661 pounds). In case you haven’t been paying attention to curb weights recently, note that it’s now a real achievement for a compact car to tip the scales at less than 3000 pounds. The only area where the Elantra -– and all Hyundais -– can really improve is in ride tuning. Large ruts and potholes jar the Elantra more than they do most competitors, especially those from Europe and America.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor