Buyer’s Guide: Hyundai Packs Luxury & Comfort in New Compact

Hyundai's new Elantra proves that good things (and deals) come in small packages

2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited compact

(Image: JeffCars.com)

2011 HYUNDAI ELANTRA LIMITED

  • MSRP: $23,080 (Base Elantra starts out at $15,550)
  • Engine/Horsepower:1.8-liter, 4-cylinder/148
  • Fuel Mileage: 29-city/40-hwy
  • Highlights: six airbags; a 172-watt AM/FM/Satellite radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers; iPod/USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks; heated outside exterior mirrors; daytime running lights; rear center armrest with cupholders; power windows and door locks; remote keyless entry
  • Competition: Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and VW Jetta

PROS:

The sexy-looking compact size Sonata-like sedan, with its free flowing lines and well-executed interior layout, is available in two trim levels: a base GLS and a well-equipped Limited. The former is available with either a fuel-efficient manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission in the GLS model, while the latter model is only available in an automatic. The new transmission allows the Elantra to produce up to 40-mpg at highway speeds, which is a rare feet for most vehicles these days.

2011 Hyundai Elantra interior

(Image: Hyundai)

Beyond the mileage, whether one opts for the GLS or Limited, consumers will be pleasantly surprised with either model. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on a well-equipped Limited model for a week—accessorized with Hyundai’s optional Premium Package. The $2,100 package consisted of a navigation system, a rearview camera, an upgraded crystal cleat 360-watt premium audio system, automatic headlamps, a push-button keyless starter and 17-inch wheels. All of this is unheard of for most midsize vehicles, especially for a compact.

In addition to the aforementioned features, my upscale Elantra was dressed-out with leather heated front seats and heated rear seats, too—a first for a compact sedan. Oh, and the Limited’s seats are quite comfortable for road trips, providing a sliding front center armrest. So as you can tell, the vehicle has been designed to adapt to all shapes and sizes. There’s even adequate legroom in the rear, too, unlike a number of compacts.

CONS:

There’s not much to dislike about the redesigned Elantra. We just hope Hyundai has plans on adding a high-performance model and a sporty two-door model to match up against the compact segment leader, the Honda Civic.

FINAL VERDICT:

Not only does this vehicle mimic the smooth free-flowing designs of its big sister, the Sonata, the spunky Elantra has zoomed to the top of the list of the compact segment in our eyes. The roomy compact offers many of the amenities one can’t find in a midsize vehicle, such as heated rear seats. Also, Hyundai has come a long way from being known as a brand on the verge of dying almost two decades ago to becoming a truly competitive one—offering one of the best warranties in the market. Yes, in my eyes Hyundai is a brand that now rivals both Honda and Toyota.

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com.

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