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2019 Hyundai Elantra: 8 Things We Like (and 4 Not So Much)

2019 Hyundai Elantra

The redesigned 2019 Hyundai Elantra is competing against much more than reliable and value-conscious compact sedan rivals like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte. The updated Elantra is tasked with proving a small sedan can still shine in a car market that’s intently focused on SUVs of all shapes and sizes.

Related: 2019 Hyundai Elantra Review: Pleasant, Poised and Primed to Take on Rivals

Does the Elantra still warrant a place on car-shopping lists? As Car’s.com reviewer Jennifer Geiger found out during her test drive, this Hyundai has more safety features, a user-friendly cabin, and plenty of space for passengers and cargo. It makes a compelling case for itself against direct rivals — not to mention small SUVs that cost significantly more.

If you want to throw a surfboard in the back or tow a boat, then stick with an SUV. But for normal everyday driving, the Elantra proves you don’t need a wannabe truck to get the job done.

For our full critique of the new Elantra, be sure to check out Geiger’s review via the above link. But for quicker reference, here are eight things we like and four we’re not wild about:

Things We Like

1. Sharp New Styling

2019 Hyundai Elantra

Styling is subjective, and it’s not going to make or break a vehicle’s reputation during road tests. But there’s no doubt the 2019 Elantra is a good-looking automobile, especially considering it’s pitched as a budget-friendly sedan that’s easy on your wallet. That it’s easy on the eyes, to boot, is more of an added bonus when considering the Elantra.

2. More Safety Features

It was no secret that the previous Elantra was trailing cars like the Civic and Corolla in terms of safety content.

“The 2018 Elantra was well behind the pack on safety equipment; forward automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control were available only on the Limited trim level,” Geiger noted.

Thankfully, the 2019 Elantra now offers forward automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning and a driver attention monitor as standard equipment on all but the base model. Pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control are also available, though only on the Limited trim. This is a nice step forward but, as Geiger noted, the Civic and Corolla have features like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning as standard equipment across all trims, so there’s room for improvement.

3. Three Engine Choices

Our test car came powered by the base engine, a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Geiger said the engine felt fine during normal driving, noting the motor was “far from thrillingly fast, but miles away from annoyingly slow.” Different Elantra models use different engines. The fuel-sipping Eco trim comes powered by a 128-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, while Sport models are fitted with a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder.

2019 Hyundai Elantra

4. Intuitive Infotainment System

For several years, the Elantra held a noticeable edge over key rivals — again, cue the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla — by offering a smart and intuitive infotainment system. While these two competitors have narrowed the tech gap, the latest system used in the Elantra continues to be a willing and highly functional travel companion. The base touchscreen measures 5 inches in width, though higher trims are fitted with a larger 7-inch screen. For even more touchscreen acreage, an 8-inch screen is also available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard with the two larger screens.

5. Better Than Before and Still a Good Value

It’s always nice when a noticeable round of improvements registers a barely noticeable uptick in price. The base Elantra starts at $18,120, which is up only $285 compared with the outgoing model. That price undercuts many of the Elantra’s main rivals.

6. A Grown-Up Ride

In her review, Geiger said the 2019 Elantra felt “planted and well-controlled” on the highway. Having lots of safety equipment is nice, though that seems like it’s worth considerably less when the car you’re piloting feels nervous or skittish during routine drives. We like that the Elantra maintains solid footing in both city and highway driving.

2019 Hyundai Elantra

7. Car Seats Won’t Cramp You 

Geiger found the Elantra easily accommodated a pair of rear car seats during her time with the Elantra.

“Two child-safety seats had ample room in the backseat, and even with a space-hogging rear-facing car seat installed behind me, I had enough legroom in the front passenger seat,” she wrote.

For families on the go, that makes the Elantra a very practical choice.

8. Cargo Space Is Not Forgotten

Granted, you’re not going to get vast amounts of cargo room, but the Elantra does offer a handy 14.4 cubic feet of trunk space. That’s about average for this class of car and should be adequate for routine errands.

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Things We Don’t

1. Earmuffs Not Included

One key problem that occurred during Geiger’s Elantra test drive was the wide cacophony of noise that intruded into the cabin. In layman’s terms: It’s too noisy! Geiger wrote that “road and wind noise combine in an obnoxiously raucous symphony.” What’s worse, the engine occasionally joined the racket and sounded “overtaxed.”

2019 Hyundai Elantra

2. Mid-Pack MPG

This isn’t a major knock against the Elantra, but overall mileage places this Hyundai only mid-pack against competitors like the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Fitted with the base 147-hp engine and automatic transmission, the Elantra is EPA-rated at 29/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined. To be fair, that’s right on par with other compact sedans. Choose the Eco version, and mileage rises about 2 mpg in city and highway driving. The Elantra Sport lowers the engine’s figures by about 4 mpg, however.

3. Standard Safety Features Still Lag a Little

We like that Hyundai has made more safety features standard across the Elantra lineup. But with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla delivering automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning on every trim level, it seems strange the base Elantra does without these two items. Adding them might bump up the enticing $18,120 base price, though we think car shoppers would appreciate the bumped up protection.

4. Higher Trim Levels Will Cost You

Nothing in life is free, and this holds true when you start climbing the Elantra’s trim levels. A base Elantra begins at $18,120, though the price of our well-optioned Limited trim tester came in at $26,960, including a destination charge. That represents a good value, considering how many features are included at this level. Yet, it also begins to pit the Elantra against lower trims of larger and well-regarded mid-size sedans, including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and even Hyundai’s own Sonata.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.