2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited

Matt Tierney

The Elantra is another really good vehicle from Hyundai. The cabin is neat and straightforward while still being stylish and, dare I say, elegant. Every control is clearly labeled, within easy reach, and nicely sized and weighted. The overall feeling of quality and attention to detail is truly impressive. This top-spec Limited Elantra is loaded and trimmed in leather so I'm interested to see how the base GLS model will compare, especially considering it starts at about $15,700, more than five grand less than this version.

The exterior design is just as well done as the interior. It looks enough like the Sonata to establish a clear family resemblance but it's also unique enough so it doesn't look like a mini-me of its larger sibling. The new Elantra also manages to be modern -- instead of garish, too futuristic, or just plain boring like some of its competitors -- without looking trendy or like it will start to show its age quickly.

Driving the Elantra is less of a revelation, but it's still quite good. The engine is responsive and, while it doesn't exactly purr under hard acceleration, it's not terribly loud or harsh either. The thick steering wheel provides decent feedback and is nicely weighted. Like the Sonata before it, the Elantra is a markedly better than its predecessor and will likely be a game-changer for Hyundai, this time in the compact car segment. I look forward to driving the new Ford Focus and Honda Civic to see how they compare.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

I agree with Phi and pxr911. I am new to this segment, and of all the vehicles I have test driven, the Elantra fits my needs best. Great price, great fuel economy, and the creature comforts required to make an econobox bearable to drive (you can buy a lot of gas with the money saved on the Elantra) on a daily work commute. The interior is what finallized my decision as it is easily the best of the group.
Honda should have been paying more attention to this car when they redesigned the Civic as clearly Honda did not do so as while the new Civic is good--it still falls far short of the Elantra in the areas in which most buyers are looking, the Civic only beats the Elantra in that it is better handling--hardly a major consideration for most buyer in this segment who will go with the less expensive, better looking and feature laden Elantra as it offer so much more than the Civic (ie. heated rear seats, back up camera, automatic headlights, 6 speed auto, proximity key and so on--features which the Civic does not even offer.

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