By Nauman Farooq
The compact segment is one of the most fiercely contested categories in automotive sales, and for 20 years or so, the king in this segment has been the Honda Civic.
Other popular compacts sedans include the Toyota Corolla, and the Mazda3, but for the last decade, Hyundai (a product from S. Korea) has been taking big chunks out of this market segment that was once dominated by the Japanese auto makers.
For 2019, Hyundai has a new version of the Elantra – so, is it as good, or better than the competition?
Let’s find out!
Styling: The new, sixth-generation model of the Elantra is heavily based on the fifth-generation model -they both have the same exact wheelbase- and it’s not hard to see that. However, the styling has gotten edgier for 2019, compared to when the sixth-generation model was first introduced in 2016. Some prefer the looks of the outgoing model, but I really like the sharper looks of the 2019 facelift. It might not be as radical as the Civic, or the brand new Mazda3, but is a bit more visually arresting than the Corolla.
Interior: The interior looks and dimensions have not altered much between let’s say the 2017 Elantra and the 2019 refresh, but there seems to be either more technology, or improved technology. Hyundai has been offering a well stocked infotainment system in the Elantra for awhile, but everything seems a bit better now. My tester, which had the “Ultimate” package, even came with a Infinity 8 speaker sound system, which was very good.
While technology such as blind spot detection has been around for a decade, this new Elantra Ultimate even had adaptive cruise control, along with lane keep assist, which meant, that on the highway, it was a fairly relaxing car to be in. The only thing that would make it more relaxing would be better sound insulation, but than, this is a compact segment car, and I should point out, that it is no more noisier than its competition.
The seats are decently comfortable, even for a long drive, and the cabin is fairly spacious – it’s a five seater, but unless the rear seat is hosting three children, it would only really suit two adults. The trunk is more spacious than I thought, and would easily swallow most people’s weekly grocery shopping.
Powertrain: Under the hood is a familiar 2.0L inline-four cylinder engine, that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. Sure, this Elantra is no rocketship on the road, but it carries on fairly well, and the engine is smooth. Power is just fed to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. My tester had the auto-box, and I thought it suited the character of the vehicle rather well.
Driving Dynamics: As you’d expect, this is not an exciting vehicle to drive, but the new Elantra was more than good enough for the daily chores. The car is comfortable, has enough performance for running around town, the steering is light and hence the car feels chuckable. The suspension set up is nice and soft, which makes dealing with bumps and pot holes a lot more bearable than in most cars. It’s not hard to see why the Elantra is as popular as it is, when you drive it.
Fuel Economy: This is where the Elantra really shined, and did far better than I was expecting. On my test cycle (170 km of highway driving + 130 km of city driving), in winter, with the car wearing winter tires, I averaged 6.9 L/100 km in the Elantra – that’s simply amazing. My figure is actually better than what Hyundai publishes, and that’s incredible. So, if fuel economy is of great importance to you, you’ll love the 2019 Elantra.
Pricing: Pricing is also what is truly surprising about the new Elantra, as base price is just $16,999. My loaded, Elantra Ultimate would set you back $27,399 – which is still not bad for the amount of equipment it gives you.
Verdict: The Elantra has been a good car for a long time, and it has only gotten better. Combine its fresh style with great features, good driving dynamics, simply excellent fuel economy, and affordable price tag, and you end up with a car that just makes sense!
So, if you’re shopping for a compact segment sedan, you really need to take a close look at the new Elantra.