Competes with: Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla... many things
Looks like: A big departure from the older Elantra, with new front and rear looks that swing from dramatic at the nose to restrained at the rear
Drivetrain: 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder (SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited); 128-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder (Eco); 201-hp, turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder (Sport); six-speed manual transmission (SE), six-speed automatic (SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited) or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (Eco); front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Fall 2018
The 2019 Hyundai Elantra gets a big update that includes drastic changes to the compact sedan's styling, additional standard safety features for some trims and more available technology in the cabin. Hyundai is calling these changes a redesign for the Elantra, but it strikes us as more of a refresh given that this is still the sixth-generation Elantra and the powertrains are untouched. However, on the scale of refreshes, this one is significant, and it starts with a reworked exterior that looks nothing like the 2018 model.
The Elantra will be offered in five trim levels initially: SE, SEL, Value Edition, Limited and Eco. The Elantra Sport will follow later in the year, with more information on the performance-focused model to come in the fall.
New front and rear bumpers and lower-body elements change up the overall look of the Elantra quite a bit. The front grille still technically has a hexagonal shape, but it's pinched in dramatically by large foglight housings that make the new nose more aggressive. There are also some added creases on the hood to create definition, reminding me of the defunct Dodge Dart.
Limited models feature LED headlights and taillights (as will the Sport), but the other trim levels make do with standard projector bulbs, which also get new designs. Also featuring new designs are the wheels, ranging from 15 inches (for the Eco) to 17 inches.
The center stack has been changed up, with new climate controls and air vents as well as a reworked storage tray that houses the optional wireless charging pad for Limited models. A 5-inch display is standard on SE models, but all of the other trims feature a larger 7-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Newly available is an 8-inch touchscreen display with Hyundai's newest multimedia system that includes navigation. Hyundai says the navigation system now features a bird's-eye view and incorporates traffic data via HD radio, which will be available without a subscription — which we like.
Under the Hood
As stated earlier, the engine options are unchanged on the Elantra. The standard engine found in SE, SEL, Value Edition and Limited models is a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. SE models come with a six-speed manual standard, with a six-speed automatic optional; the other trim levels are only offered with the automatic.
The Eco model gets its own powertrain setup, a 128-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Hyundai says the Eco will get an estimated 35 mpg combined city/highway figure, which beats other trim levels by at least 2 to 3 mpg.
The 2018 Elantra was well behind the pack on safety features, with forward automatic braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control only available on Limited models — and it wasn't even standard (you had to add an options package). For 2019, Hyundai has moved many of these features down the trim levels, so now the SEL and above all get forward automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warnings and a driver attention monitor standard.
Adaptive cruise control and forward pedestrian detection, however, are still optional and only offered on the Limited trim. This is a big step forward for the Elantra, but it still has some work to do to catch class leaders such as the Toyota Corolla in the safety department.
The updated 2019 Elantra will be available in the fall.
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