The Hyundai Elantra Coupe is a youthful car chock-full of features for the tech-savvy, budget-sensitive, BC (before children) consumer.
The 2014 version has been beefed up with a new engine, suspension and steering refinements, some interior and exterior upgrades, and more standard features. It has also dropped the standard manual transmission. Compare the 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Elantras side by side here. If you like the Elantra Coupe and want to buy it new, don't delay. Hyundai announced 2014 is its final model year.
The Elantra Coupe comes in only one trim level, making life easy for those whose biggest decision is whether to go out or order in tonight — or whether to spend an extra $4,200 on the Technology Package (which my test car had).
If the Elantra Coupe doesn't fit your personality profile, you may also be interested in checking out the Honda Civic Coupe, Kia Forte Koup or Scion tC. Compare them here.
Exterior & Styling
Hyundai has made a name for itself with inventive "fluidic design." (Want proof? Google "fluidic design" and see what images come up. Come on, it'll be fun.) The Elantra Coupe is no exception to the rule. It's swoopy, young and fun, and it somehow manages to take feminine curves and make them into a much more sporty and androgynous vehicle.
New for 2014 is a standard real spoiler and blackout grille that ups the car's Formula Drift look.
How It Drives
This year, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine increases horsepower by almost 17 percent over 2013's 1.8-liter. It's now rated 173 hp for most models, up from 148 hp last year — but specifications reveal the lower-emissions PZEV (partial zero-emissions vehicle) version is again rated lower, at 166 hp.
Despite the 2014's increased horsepower, the Elantra Coupe could definitely be a little peppier in order to add to the fun factor alluded to in its windswept look. There's a slight lag upon acceleration, and despite suspension and steering modifications this year, I didn't find either to feel very refined. The suspension was a bit too far on the "stiff and trying to be sporty" side, at the expense of daily driving comfort.
Equipped with its new engine, standard six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, the Elantra Coupe gets an EPA-estimated 24/34/28 mpg city/highway/combined. The new engine is responsible for a significant, 3-mpg drop in combined fuel economy from 2013's EPA-estimated 31 mpg.
The interior of the Elantra manages to do basic without crossing too far into cheap. Several design elements that were previously optional are now standard, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Standard leatherlike seats and heated front seats, plus the moonroof that came in the Tech Package, were bonuses at the Coupe's price. The armrest on top of the center console slides back and forth, adjusting to either short or tall drivers (helpful in my family, as I'm 5-foot-3 and my husband is 6-foot-2). Disguised underneath the sliding armrest is a center console just big enough for a small clutch or wallet.
Two cupholders in the center console keep the morning joe and H20 within easy reach, while a little square compartment behind them holds miscellaneous items like loose change, parking garage tickets and lip balm. Another storage compartment with a closing door in front of the gearshift proved a good place to stash my phone.
While the swooping roofline may look speedy, it does come with a downside, and that's the yogic maneuvering required to duck under the roofline and behind the front seats in order to enter the backseat. At least the front seats' shoulder belts emerge from rigid arms that click down and out of the way, making backseat access much easier. There's no storage at all for backseat passengers except for two cupholders in the fold-down center armrest.
While I certainly wouldn't want to have to climb in and out of the backseat of any coupe on a regular basis myself, it must not have been too uncomfortable for my tweens/teen (ages 9, 11 and 14) because I didn't hear any complaints all week on our daily treks to summer camp. (Trust me, I would have heard about it loud and clear — not to mention dramatically.)
The 33.3 inches of rear legroom was barely enough for my kids to sit behind my husband's seat (pushed back to accommodate his tall stature) without whining too much. For people wanting coupe styling with more backseat functionality, you might want to direct your attention to the 35.9 inches of rear-seat legroom in the Kia Forte Koup or the 34.6 inches in the Scion tC. The Honda Civic is the tightest of the pack, with just 30.8 inches.
Ergonomics & Electronics
The standard Bluetooth system was easy to pair with my smartphone, and the steering-wheel-mounted audio controls were great. Voice controls, on the other hand, were a total miss. I initially thought it was my husband's heavy accent that was causing the problem and stepped in to prove it. However, when I tried the same set of commands it was still a pain. Ultimately, when the system finally found the right contact to dial it just finked out and reverted to a previous menu screen. Eventually, I got fed up and opted to dial by hand (while safely parked in front of our house) then use the Bluetooth hands-free function for my call.
The optional $4,200 Technology Package in the Elantra Coupe includes a large touch-screen navigation system and backup camera, along with Hyundai's Blue Link (more on that in the Safety section below).
Cargo & Storage
There's a surprising amount of space in the Elantra Coupe's trunk (14.8 cubic feet), perfect for carting my girls' large bags to and from their aerial cirque day camp (you'd think they were packing a troop of clowns by the size of their bags). The Elantra Coupe's cargo space just edges out the Scion tC's 14.7 cubic feet and beats the Kia Forte Koup (13.3) and Honda Civic Coupe (11.7). A 60/40-split folding backseat is standard for extending the Elantra Coupe's cargo space forward.
I found myself wishing for a trunk release button inside the car. Locating the trunk release button on the trunk itself isn't always seamless, and it's almost always grimy.
While the 2014 Hyundai Elantra sedan has been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the coupe has not. Likewise, the sedan was awarded Top Safety Pick status by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but neither organizations' results apply to the coupe.
The Elantra Coupe with the optional Technology Package comes equipped with Hyundai's Blue Link system and three free years of the Assured Connected Care program. This service provides a monthly vehicle health report, enhanced roadside assistance and automatic collision notification, which alerts first responders in the event of an accident. Hyundai owners can upgrade to other Blue Link packages that offer more services, such as remote door lock and unlock, remote vehicle start, car finder, stolen vehicle recovery, slowdown and immobilization — plus my favorites for teen drivers: speed alert, curfew alert and geo-fence.
For families with small children, two sets of Latch lower anchors and three top-tether anchors are in the backseat (although for the health and well-being of the parents' backs and sanity, I wouldn't recommend trying to regularly install child-safety seats in the back of any coupe). The lower anchors are wedged tightly into the seat bight, making them difficult to access for those using a child-safety seat with Latch attachments on webbing.
The seat belt buckles are on floppy nylon bases, making them more difficult for children with limited dexterity to buckle independently from their booster seats.
See all the Elantra Coupe's standard safety features listed here.
Value in Its Class
Regardless of how hard others may try, nobody beats Hyundai for value in this class. Plenty of standard features, such as Bluetooth phone and audio, remote keyless entry and start, leatherlike seating surfaces and heated front seats are packed into the Elantra Coupe, while others cost extra. Add in Hyundai's impressive warranty, and buying new rather than used suddenly starts to make sense from a peace-of-mind standpoint — but you'll have to act soon before this short-lived Elantra body style vanishes from new-car listings.