a great little wagon without the boring!
May 21, 2011
My last three cars were, in no particular order: 1992 Alfa Romeo 164-S, 2000 Toyota Corolla CE and a 1998 Volvo V70 AWD. The Elantra touring is not as sporty as the Alfa (what a great car! I never should have sold it...) not as comfortable or as unflappable in foot-deep snow as the Volvo (you could use the seats of that car for living-room furniture and feel like you spent thousands on the finest chairs available.. In fact the notion of buying a junk V70 just for the seats has occurred to me...) but man does it beat that old Corolla in every way possible! Heck, it beats the NEW Corolla in every way possible!
the exterior is bland, but verry cohesive, the interior is simple, comfortable (the front seats are a definite step above the segment norm in both comfort and support.), and well put together. It also happens to be cavernous! For a small car the ET offers hugely spacious rear seats (the rear bench is a little firm and flat for long trips, but leg, head and hip room in the rear is excellent, and there's room to move and breath back there), and ignoring the don't-quite-fold-fully-flat seat backs, a giant cargo area for such a small car. The stock stereo sounds great, if not overly powerful (you pretty much have to max it to defeat wind noise with the windows down on the highway) the suspension is taught and well controlled, and you can easily startle yourself with how fast it will comfortably negotiate twisty roads. Body movements are very well controlled and at-limit handling (with the ESC off) is easy to manage. The engine power is adequate, nothing to write home about, but the excellent 5 speed stick makes it fun to wring all the juice out of. The biggest let-down is the somewhat numb-feelng electric power steering, the feedback is there, you just have to pay close attention to notice it. It's far from boring on a good streach of twitys, and though you won't pass a Mazda 3 or Golf GTI on the corners, you'll pass them when they stop for gas. I'm averaging 30mpg, and I'm not what you'd call a conservative driver. The ET has excellent ergonomics, excellent visibility, very good headlighs, teriffic brakes, great usibilty, an is a well executed and well-priced package. Even my base GLS model manages to kick out the blahs while keeping the bank account happy. All in all, if you need an afordable compact wagon and don't want to be bored to tears while owning it you can't do much better for the money. Did I mention the killer warranty, long list of standard safety features or low insurance cost? Yeah, those are nice too.