Competes with: Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla
Looks like: Aunt May grabbed the old Elantra’s cheeks and pulled back very hard
Drivetrain: 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission; 128-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: January 2016; Eco model in spring 2016
Hyundai eked every last bit of life out of its compact sedan before debuting the all-new 2017 Elantra at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2017 Elantra is significantly reworked inside and out with structural enhancements, new powertrains, new safety features and a host of new technology. The outgoing Elantra was a hot ticket when it was redesigned for 2011, though the compact class has upped its game big time with recent introductions like the Mazda3, Honda Civic and Kia Forte.
The Elantra’s new design is highlighted by the large hexagonal grille that other modern Hyundai cars wear, like the Sonata sedan and Tucson SUV. Flanking the big grille are optional high-intensity discharge headlights with available adaptive headlights that turn in the direction of the steering wheel.
Aerodynamics are a key part of the redesign and include functional front air curtains like the ones used in the Sonata Hybrid to manage airflow around the front of the vehicle, minimizing resistance. Underneath are underbody covers and out back there’s a bottom spoiler and rear deck lid designed to be aero-friendly and contribute to a lower coefficient of drag.
To give it a more athletic stance, the Elantra is 1 inch wider and just less than an inch longer. It also features LED turn signal indicators, LED taillights and LED puddle lights. Five new colors are available for 2017.
The interior is a complete redesign with a wide instrument panel design aimed to create a more spacious feeling. Like the outgoing Elantra, the new one is big enough on the inside to be classified as a midsize car by the EPA, a size classification also shared by the 2016 Civic and 2016 Corolla.
Soft-touch materials have been added in key areas, and the main multimedia screen is tilted 7 degrees toward the driver for easier viewing and interaction. There are two optional touch-screen multimedia systems available over the base system: a 7-inch with a backup camera and an 8-inch with navigation. All models come with standard inputs for iPhone/USB as well as satellite radio and Android Auto, plus a second USB input for charging.
New available features for 2017 include a memory function for the power driver’s seat and side mirrors, a feature Hyundai says is a segment first, as well as an optional premium Infinity sound system. In an effort to reduce unwanted outside noises, Hyundai says the 2017 Elantra uses more sound insulation material and its front glass is thicker.
Under the Hood
When the Elantra goes on sale in January, a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission will be the sole engine offering until spring when the second more efficient engine is available. The 2.0-liter is projected by Hyundai to achieve a 29/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined rating, a 1 mpg city bump over the outgoing car.
In spring 2016, the Elantra Eco will go on sale with a 128-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hyundai expects the Eco to get a 35 mpg combined rating. All Elantras feature new selectable driving modes that adjust engine, transmission and steering effort in Eco, Normal or Sports modes.
The chassis itself has been given a healthy dose of strengthening with a 29.5 percent improvement in torsional rigidity with the goal of decreasing noise, vibrations and harshness while increasing vehicle dynamics, which are also being helped by a redesigned rear suspension.
Hyundai says structural reinforcements to the front chassis will improve performance in a collision, plus seven airbags are standard and include a driver’s knee airbag. An available collision warning system alerts the driver of an upcoming collision and autonomously brakes when needed. The Elantra also has available adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.