2017 Hyundai Elantra: First Impressions

17Hyundai_Elantra_AS_SP_05.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra; | photo by Steven Pham

Hyundai’s current-generation Elantra is still an attention-grabbing compact car with its dramatic curves and flowing design standing out even after being on the road for five years. Hyundai had its work cut out replacing the brand’s best-selling car, and the end result is a very different 2017 Elantra, which debuted at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

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The current Elantra’s swoopy curves are replaced with a simplistic, chiseled appearance. It’s not hard to find a similar design in the Audi A3 sedan, including the profile lines and the deck lid’s molded rear spoiler. The overall effect is a surprisingly premium-looking Hyundai Elantra with a hunkered-down stance and aggressive front styling. I was unsure of how the updated styling would translate from photos to in person, but I’m a fan of the new look. 

17Hyundai_Elantra_AS_SP_07.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra; | photo by Steven Pham

Just like the outside, dramatic changes abound on the inside too, where there’s more of a traditional layout instead of the quirky, playful design of the outgoing generation. New features include available memory seats that Hyundai says is a first for the segment as well as hands-free automatic trunk access and adaptive cruise control — not a shabby list for a compact car.

17Hyundai_Elantra_AS_SP_13.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra; | photo by Steven Pham

Up front, the inside feels roomier even though overall passenger volume is relatively unchanged, perhaps because of the slim door panels and more horizontal styling of the dashboard. Hyundai says there’s increased headroom in the backseat, but for my 6-foot-tall frame it’s not as spacious as the 2016 Honda Civic sedan, which is also classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA and has a few more cubic feet of interior volume — 95.8 cubic feet for the Elantra and nearly 98 cubic feet for the Civic. The Civic is easier to duck into, and once inside, it provided more space between my head and the top of the interior. The Elantra’s sloping rear roofline isn’t the best at giving a clear shot into the backseat, though there is a significantly smaller center floor hump in the Elantra’s backseat.

17Hyundai_Elantra_AS_SP_12.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra; | photo by Steven Pham

I’m interested in seeing how the Elantra’s new styling will be received once it goes on sale in January given how different the new car looks. Pricing will also be a key point as those premium features will add up, though Hyundai has a value-driven history that could bring in those features at a reasonable price.

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Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: Email Joe Bruzek

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