Hyundai Elantra's Cabin Goes From Flash to Fizzle With Redesign

17Hyundai_Elantra_ES_13.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra | photo by Evan Sears

CARS.COM — The redesigned 2017 Hyundai Elantra isn’t short on available features; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a memory driver’s seat, automatic opening trunk and more make the Elantra a seriously jampacked compact sedan. Since its debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, however, the latest-generation Elantra’s interior design and materials have left some of our editors underwhelmed. Where does it come up short? The editors weigh in below:

Related: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Expert Review

17Hyundai_Elantra_ES_07.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra | photo by Evan Sears

The Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla have proper woven headliners, but Hyundai uses the cheapest material this side of an egg crate. Many rivals (the Civic, Subaru Impreza and Mazda3, to name a few) employ low-gloss, padded surfaces on their upper doors, an area where your arms and elbows often end up. The Elantra gets hard, shiny plastics. Farther down, even the armrest padding seems penny-pinched, as do the optional leather seats available only with the Limited trim, which are heavy on vinyl with unremarkable cowhide on the sections that have it. Oh, and frosted-gray trim is this car’s kudzu. It’s everywhere — even on the door handles, an area most competitors dress up. The saving grace is how well the car drives. — Kelsey Mays, senior consumer affairs editor

The Elantra’s exterior got an upscale new look for 2017, but the interior misses the mark. Even in the top Limited trim, the design and materials underwhelm. The leather seats are cushy and comfortable, and all the touch points are sufficiently padded, but the combination of utilitarian-looking hard plastics and flat, horizontal planes fall short compared with the boldly styled exterior. — Jennifer Geiger, assistant managing editor

17Hyundai_Elantra_ES_10.jpg 2017 Hyundai Elantra | photo by Evan Sears

I notice it mostly in the appearance and feel of the dashboard and door panels. I seem to be the only one who thinks the exterior was a step back, too (similar to what people said about the Hyundai Sonata redesign, in which case I dissented). — Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor

IMG_5290.jpg 2014 Hyundai Elantra; | photo by Evan Sears

The Elantra doesn’t have to be a luxury car, but the interior quality doesn’t seem appropriate for the high-tech features and luxurylike exterior styling. Its door panels are flat and dull, have hard plastic on top and are even less interesting than the outgoing Elantra’s trimmings. This wouldn’t be as obvious if the old car’s interior weren’t so stylish and, of course, if the redesigned 2016 Civic’s interior didn’t hit it out of the park in both style and material quality. — Joe Bruzek, senior road test editor

The Civic versus Elantra comparison doesn’t end there: Honda’s compact is bucking industry trends with a 24.5 percent sales increase through April 2016 as other compact sedans, including the Elantra, flounder in a segment that’s down as a whole. We look forward to a side-by-side comparison of these two popular compact cars in the future. They’re evenly matched on paper, but the Elantra’s cabin needs a little sprucing up to go toe-to-toe with the Civic.

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