Introduced two years ago, the current Elantra sedan is now part of a three-strong lineup that also includes the Hyundai Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT hatchback in U.S. showrooms. The core package is shared by all three, but the latest Elantra sedan benefits from the newest interior tech from each of the spin-offs.
Despite little new styling flair, the Elantra sedan remains one of the finest small cars on the road and its new features keep it top-of-class versus the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla that inhale most of the compact-sedan sales.
Hyundai ’s great progress since 2007 hit a serious snag with the admission that the company’s internal EPA figures used the wrong testing procedure. Automakers often do the testing themselves using a very specific protocol that ensures parity across makes and models. Believed to be a good-faith mistake, the EPA dispatched multiple teams to the Seoul-based headquarters of Hyundai-Kia to show them how to run the tests properly.
Existing Hyundai and Kia owners were compensated with checks to cover the difference between advertised economy and the new results, typically a few hundred dollars. Not a big ding in reputation, but all advertising had to be pulled and re-done so there’s been a bit of radio silence in 2013.
The lineup for 2013 is frankly better than ever, especially this perky little Elantra sedan.
Click past the jump for the full review and image gallery.
The Elantra remains the most stylistically interesting compacts on the market. The recently revealed Toyota Corolla takes a big step towards being as cool looking as this little Hyundai. Up front, a series of flowing lines make creases into the bumper. These creases then flow upward to form the Elantra’s main grille shape before shifting up the hood toward the windshield. There’s little expensive gloss like LED lights, but the overall shape remains impressive two years after launch. Some twisted chrome bars appear on the lower grille for 2013, a la the new Sante Fe.
The definition of the hood creases is particularly impressive next to the revised Honda Civic . Unlike Honda, the Elantra’s lines are marked off by shape angles and pinched surfaces. These shapes are hard to draw and even harder to mass produce – to Hyundai’s credit.
The Elantra’s inner headlight graphic itself forms a swoosh shape that recalls the white LEDs from the Sonata Hybrid, but does not light up. The new Corolla one-ups the Elantra with its standard LED low beams.
In profile, the Elantra Limited still rides on stylish seven-spoke wheels that look right off an Infiniti and ground the sedan well. The Elantra is a cab-forward design with a low hood and a teardrop glasshouse. The windshield is steeply raked but doesn’t need a special mini window in the front pillars.
From the rear, the Elantra sedan is still a compact car but shows some really precise detailing in its shape and proportions. The high-cut bumper contrasts with the flat and sharply cut trunk to enhance the Elantra’s fastback shape. It looks well-done, despite the lack of big exhausts, tire footprints or other sporty design cues.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Exterior Dimensions:
|Overall length||178.3 in.|
|Overall width||69.9 in.|
|Overall height||56.5 in.|
|Track||61 inches (front), 61.6 inches (rear)|
If the Elantra’s exterior opens people’s eyes, the interior opens their hearts. The Elantra Limited features perforated leather that is supple, breathes and is smooth under the fingers. The interior leather treatment looks twice as good in tan, which comes with corresponding leatherette trims for the lower dash and door areas. The look is smart and puts more than a few mid-size competitors in the shade.
The nicely-refined trims frame a tech package that is second to none in any car under $30,000. South Korea’s dominance of many consumer tech sectors is clear as day inside the Elantra. The Elantra comes in two trim levels, GLS and Limited, with a $4,000 price gap between the two. The vast majority of buyers will prefer the Limited, which packs the automatic transmission as standard. Bluetooth phone integration is optional on the GLS and standard on the Limited.
The Elantra offers a USB and mini jack inputs for audio integration into the optional touchscreen. One surprising feature on the Elantra Limited is heated rear seats, which are typically a luxury-car specialty.
2013 Hyundai Elantra GLS Model Standard Interior Features:
- 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback & rear center armrest with cupholders
- 6-way adjustable driver’s seat including height adjustment
- Adjustable head restraints for all seating positions
- Advanced dual front airbags with Occupant Classification System (OCS)
- Air conditioning
- AM/FM/SiriusXM Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers and iPod®/USB auxiliary input jacks
- Center console with storage compartment and armrest
- Cruise control
- Dual front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags
- Dual heated power outside mirrors
- Front 2-speed intermittent wipers
- Front passenger seatback pocket, front and rear door map pockets
- Lower multi-box with cover
- Map lights with sunglass holder, dome lamp and cargo area light
- Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS)
- Power door locks
- Power windows with driver’s auto-down
- Rear defroster
- Solar glass with windshield shade band
- Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel
- Trip computer
- Trunk lid inner cover
2013 Hyundai Elantra GLS Model Standard Interior Features:
- Heated front seats
- Bluetooth® hands-free phone system with voice recognition
- Steering wheel audio controls
- Cloth insert door trim
- Sliding center armrest
- Illuminated vanity mirrors with extensions
- Illuminated ignition
2013 Hyundai Elantra Limited Standard Interior Features:
- One touch up driver’s window
- Leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
- Leather seating surfaces
- Power driver seat with lumbar support
- Heated front and rear seats
Key interior options on the Limited:
- 360-Watt 7-in. navigation system with high resolution touchscreen with rearview camera, AM/FM/SiriusXM ® Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system and premium audio with external amp
- Proximity key entry with electronic push button start
- Immobilizer; Steering Lock
- Limited Technology Package includes navigation system with 7-in. screen, rearview camera, 360-Watt premium audio with digital external amp, dual automatic temperature control, automatic headlamps and proximity key entry with electronic push button start with immobilizer ($2,350)
Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes
All Elantra’s run the same 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder making 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. The automatic transmission really hurts the acceleration stats for the Elantra, growing from 7.9 seconds for the six-speed manual up to 9.7 seconds for the six-speed auto that is standard on the Limited trim.
The Elantra runs electronic power steering with a torsion bar rear axle, so there its driving dynamics are a little flat. Overall the Hyundai is pretty enthusiastic but mileage suffers dramatically with a heavy foot.
|Engine Size and Type||1.8-liter Four-cylinder DOHC D-CVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing)|
|Peak power||148 horsepower|
|Peak torque||131 pound-feet|
|Transmission||6-speed Manual (6-speed Automatic)|
|0-to-60 mph||7.9 seconds (9.7 seconds)|
|Top Speed||116 mph, limited|
|EPA Fuel Economy||28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway|
Safety, Reliability and Recalls
The Elantra is a five-star car from the NHTSA and a 2013 Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. The 2011-2013 Elantra was recalled to fix a headliner bracket that can cut you when the roof-mounted side curtain airbags inflate in a crash. The recall affects all new Elantra’s made before April 2013.
2013 Hyundai Elantra Safety Features:
- Six airbags: dual front, side-impact and side-curtain airbags
- Traction control
- Stability control
- Anti-lock disc brakes
- Electronic brake-force distribution
- Brake assist
- LATCH safety seat mounts
The 2013 Hyundai Elantra is priced between $17,000 and $21,000.
|Elantra GLS, Six-speed Manual||$16,965|
|Elantra GLS, Six-speed Shiftronic Auto||$17,965|
|Elantra Limited, Six-speed Shiftronic Auto||$21,115|
The Honda Civic is unappealing in every way. The exterior is austerity-spec and the interior looks nasty compared with the flowing curves of the Elantra cabin.
Gallery Honda Civic Sedan
The new Corolla actually looks pretty interesting from the front and comes with some exclusive features. Not available until the late summer or fall, the Corolla is expected to keep its top spot in the small-car sales charts for the global giant.
Gallery Toyota Corolla
The Elantra is a really likeable little car. It has modern styling that looks sophisticated, offers simple and logical pricing and options packages, and an interior with some big-car perks, like the optional touchscreen stereo and heated rear seats in the Limited models.
The Hyundai lacks a performance model with any extra power over its 148 horsepower base models, but even that engine puts out at least 10 more horses than the competition from Toyota and Honda. It’s a shame that the Shiftronic automatic saps so much performance in the 0-to-60 mph sprint versus the base manual transmission. And the EPA mileage controversy was aimed directly at the Elantra, so forget about reaching 40 mpg on the highway – it is not going to happen.
These pain points can’t diminish the car’s strong position versus the also-ran Corolla and Civic . The toughest competition for the Elantra is likely to come from corporate cousin, the curvy new Kia Forte sedan. For those that enjoy the sharp lines of the Hyundai, it looks really sharp in black exterior paint and the tan leather interior from the Limited.
|Driving||B||Agile Driving Manners Help Enliven a Dull Segment|
|Performance||C||Pretty Nippy Manual, Auto Much Slower|
|Look||A||Ultra-Modern, Chrome-Free Exterior Looks Sharp|
|Value||B||Easy Options Packages And Well-Equipped Limited Trim; Great Interior|
|Overall||B||One of Hyundai’s Strongest Models Deserves More Sales|
- Interior looks great in leather
- Tech package second-to-none in this segment; Good execution of buttons and ergonomics
- Style is aging more gracefully than Sonata
- Still a compact car that’s narrow and low-to-the-ground
- EPA numbers revised downward to 32/38 MPG
- Why is the automatic so much slower?