We all know the drill. After 18 years, it isn’t much of a surprise anymore to see Honda’s Civic crowned Canada’s best selling car, especially now that the maker has introduced one of the best versions of the model yet. But with a flock of new and improved compact sedans popping on the market faster than rabbits, there is no saying how much longer their reign will last. Sitting in second position on the market, right on the Civic’s tail, is the all new Elantra. This year, Hyundai introduced the sixth generation of their compact sedan. It looks fancy and it is quite the bang for the buck.
Powered by a 2.0L, 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2017 Elantra pushes 147 hp and 132 lb-ft. If power is sufficient for this little sedan to go about its day, the accelerations are far from spectacular. But let’s be honest here: performance isn’t why you are buying this model. And if you are, where did you get the idea? This is where the Elantra Sport will shortly intervene (watch for our future review). However, what this car will get you is a really good fuel economy. After a week at the wheel of my electric-blue tester, I averaged 6.9L/100km, after a healthy combination of city and highway driving.
The handling is pretty smooth and does a good job all around, besides lacking a bit of spirit. The suspension does well on most surfaces – thank god for independent coil springs – and makes for a very comfortable ride. However, braking isn’t stellar. The pedal is soft under foot and it feels like a lot of pressure is required to come to a full stop, a fault I have found in other Hyundai vehicles as well. Also, despite its availability, I didn’t even feel the need to engage the drive mode selector. It didn’t make that big of a difference in the car’s personality. Or maybe I had given up on trying to inject some excitement into the driving.
I’ve had the discussion before and if some find the new European look of the Elantra to be a lot less stand-outish than it used to be, sign me up for some European flair because I’m buying it. The swooping Forever 21 headlights went out the window and in came the Louis Vuitton vavavoom design. I must not be the only one to like what the Hyundai designers did, considering it won an International design award. From cars being made smaller, the trend is now making a complete 180°. This new Elantra is wider by a full 25 mm and little less than 25 mm longer. It also features wheel curtains, two slit openings in the front bumper intended to reduce turbulence around the wheels.
Interior space is descent; as you would expect from a compact sedan. Seating in the front is comfortable, however, in the back, it offers one of the smallest amounts of legroom at 906 mm. On the bright side, the Elantra does not feel cramped. The overall greenhouse effect sees to this, making for a bright cabin rather than a dungeon, and offers good 360-degree visibility. I would also like to mention the excellent sound proofing, quite surprising for this category of an entry-level, affordable sedan.
And of course, Hyundai usually rhymes with affordable equipment. Obviously, the Limited edition that sits near the top of the trim levels is packed with goodies such as a heated steering wheel, full infotainment and navigation system, rearview camera, keyless access, adaptive cruise control as well as a flight of driving assists. But should you opt for the basic L version, despite the menu of options being a lot thinner, you still get good bang for your buck with heated seats, USB ports, keyless entry with an alarm system and braking assist, which is pretty darn respectable when you consider the starting price of less than $16k. Not even the Limited version I drove broke the $30,000 seal, which is a perk of the brand.
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra does everything well. It has a sweet, quiet, vanilla personality with a handful of chocolate sprinkles mixed in for a bit of spike. Starting at $15,999, it is priced among the most affordable models in the segment. With its new look and accessible persona, no wonder the Elantra has climbed up the sales ladder and is now giving the Civic a run for its money.
2017 Hyundai Elantra
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0L four-cylinder Atkinson cycle / 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 147 hp/132 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (53L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.3 city, 6.4 hwy
Warranty (basic): 5 years/100,000km
Competitors: Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze
- One of the most competitively priced models in the segment
- Generous equipment, as you'd expect from the brand
- Great bang for the buck; quality and comfort are a plus
- Less room at the back compared to other competitors
- Performances are underwelming
- Braking is very soft