I eagerly awaited a chance to drive the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Hyundai has been riding a wave of success for almost two years now and the Elantra promised to bring the brand's newfound poise and refinement to a segment that's suddenly white-hot. Perhaps my expectations were too high for the little Hyundai because I thought the Elantra took a step back from our Four Seasons Sonata SE in terms of driving dynamics. Yes, the bigger, more expensive Sonata gets a more sophisticated suspension, but when cars as small as a Fiat 500 feel more solid on the highway at 80 mph I know Hyundai can polish the suspension tuning and damping a bit more. That said, Joe DeMatio is correct that the vast majority of buyers shopping for a car based on appearance, value, and fuel economy will find no fault in the Elantra's ride.
Unlike Joe, I had a difficult time figuring out how to pair my phone with the Bluetooth system in this car. I had to look long and hard to find the small button next to the CD eject button that's responsible for pairing your phone. Any owner would be smart enough to read the manual first, but other Hyundai products have been so intuitive for tasks like pairing a phone that I've come to expect an interface that doesn't require a manual. Once my phone was connected, the sound quality was very good.
Overall I was very happy with the Elantra. As David Zenlea pointed out, there's no better mix of performance, value, and quality than the Elantra in the compact car segment for most shoppers right now. As much as some people like how the new Focus drives, getting a well-optioned car pretty much necessitates the MyFord Touch system that can be incredibly frustrating. Hyundai's stellar infotainment system is a bigger draw for the average consumer than European-tuned driving dynamics, especially in this segment.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor