Despite the crossover madness in recent years, the sedan niche is still one of the most popular and competitive segments when it comes to choosing your next daily driver. This is why the Hyundai Elantra is already in its seventh generation. Over the past decade, the Korean brand has been on a crusade to steal as many clients as possible from the likes of Toyota and Honda – brands that dominate the compact sedan segment with the Corolla and Civic models.

Exterior

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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The new 2021 Elantra is the second model that features Hyundai’s new Sensuous Sportiness design. Just like the Azera, the front accommodates a large jewel-pattern grille that seamlessly merges with the headlights while accommodating the turn signals.

The new Elantra (Avante in Korea) has a longer wheelbase, wider stance, and lower roofline compared to its previous generation.

The overall length has been increased by 2.2 inches (56 mm) while the wheelbase is 0.8 inches (20.3 mm). The car is also 0.8 inches (20.3 mm) lower and 1.0 inch (25.4 mm) wider.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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2021 vs 2020 Hyundai Elantra - exterior dimensions
2020 Elantra 2021 Elantra Compared
Overall Length 181.9 184.1 +2.2”
Overall Width 70.9 71.9 +1.0”
Overall Height 56.5 55.7 -0.8’’
Wheelbase 106.3 107.1 +0.8”

The car is styled to look almost like a sporty four-door coupe. Despite that, the Elantra retains its sedan characteristics, including the trunk lid which does not open like a hatch. The Sensuous Sportiness is defined through the parametric dynamics design. Similarly to the front, the side-profile integrates jewel-inspired lines that branch out towards the different sections of the car.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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The rear is nicely-rounded and sloped for that sporty, yet elegant four-door coupe look. It incorporates the “H-tail Lamp”. A line stretches the entire width of the car, connecting to the thin taillights at the edges of the car. Together, they form a sort of a flying Hyundai logo.

Overall, the Elantra is not desperately trying to be a good-looking car. It achieves a nice balance between smooth surfaces and bold edges.

Interior

2021 Hyundai Elantra Interior
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Hyundai has taken a page from Mercedes’ book and has given us two 10.25-inch screens – one is for the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment system.

Through clever integration, they almost look like a single big screen, which creates a very clean interior look. In addition to offering a segment-first wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the eight-inch audio user interface allows you to leave your smartphone in your pocket.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Interior
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The infotainment system is among the most responsive and easiest to use in the segment. Moreover, it uses the entire 10.25-inch display. Dual Bluetooth support is available, which means two devices can be paired at the same time. The new steering wheel features logical audio and Bluetooth controls while retaining an elegant, clean look. You can switch between the different drive modes with the push of a button, located near the gear selector. Although shift paddles are not available, you can still switch gears manually with the shifter on the lower center console.

Through voice commands, you can control various systems in the car, such as the heated steering wheel, climate control, heated seats, rear window defroster, fan speed, etc.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Interior
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The interior is driver-focused. There are relatively few buttons inside, and they are logically laid out, which makes for a more hassle-free driving experience.

The infotainment screen is angled slightly towards the driver and is highly-customizable. At the same time, the car provides excellent space.

Despite its lower and sleeker roofline, the new 2021 Elantra actually has better headroom. Even if you’re someone who is 6 foot 2 inches tall will find that room for your feet and head is adequate. That said, other than two air vents, you don’t get anything else in the second row. This means no USB ports or 12V sockets, at least for now.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Interior
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2021 Hyundai Elantra vs 2020 Hyundai Elantra interior dimensions
2020 Hyundai Elantra 2021 Hyundai Elantra Difference
Front Legroom 42.2 42.3 0.1
Rear Legroom 35.7 38.0 2.3
Front headroom 40.3 (38.5) 40.6 (38.7) 0.3 (0.2)
Rear legroom 37.3 37.3 -
Front Shoulder room 56.2 56.3 0.3
Rear Shoulder room 55.3 55.6 0.3

For 2021, The Elantra offers a wide range of SmartSense Safety features as standard. These include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA); Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); Lane Following Assist (LFA); High Beam Assist (HBA), which prevents you from blinding oncoming traffic and Driver Awareness Warning (DAW) which detects signs of driver fatigue.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Interior
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Optional SmartSense features include Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Assist (RCCA); Smart Cruise Control (SCC); Highway Driving Assist (HAD) – works together with LFA and SCC – Safe Exit Warning (SEW) – warns you if a car is approaching and it is not safe to exit the vehicle – Reverse Parking Collision Avoidance (PCA) – detects obstacles and applies emergency braking, if necessary, to avoid a collision while parking.

Drivetrain

2021 Hyundai Elantra Drivetrain
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With the seventh generation, the Hyundai Elantra can also be had as a hybrid. The 1.6-liter, four-cylinder GDI engine is aided by a 32 kW electric motor, powered by a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery, located under the rear seats.

Combined, the system produces 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet (264 Nm) of torque.

In the Elantra Hybrid, power is sent to the ground via Hyundai’s quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. In the hybrid version, Hyundai also promises an EPA of over 50 mpg (4.7 l / 100 km) combined.

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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The non-hybrid versions make use of a 2.0-liter MPI (Multi-Port injection), Atkinson cycle engine, producing 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet (179 Nm) of torque. It works with either a 6-speed manual or Hyundai’s IVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission) gearbox, which is focused on fuel economy rather than performance.

2021 Hyundai Elantra specifications
Type Nu 2.0 MPI Atkinson 4-cylinder, DOHC Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT)
Materials Aluminum block and head
Bore & stroke (mm) 81 X 97
Compression ratio 12.5:1
Displacement 2.0 liters / 1,999 cc
Horsepower 147 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 132 @ 4,500 rpm

Price

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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Prices for the new 2021 Hyundai Elantra are not yet official, but it is believed they would start at around $20,000 for the base version, and go up to around $30,000 for a fully-loaded version. Price-wise, this puts the Korean sedan right in the middle of the segment.

Competition

Toyota Corolla

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan - Driven
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A car that doesn’t need an introduction, the Corolla has long been a strong contender, in both sedan and hatchback form. It is also one of the first in the segment to adopt a hybrid powertrain. That said, it’s down on power compared to the Elantra. Although the Corolla has a bigger 1.8-liter, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine together with an electric motor, it only makes 122 horsepower and 105 pound-feet (147 Nm) of torque. The Corolla’s hybrid powertrain is mated to an Aisin CVT gearbox.

In terms of fuel consumption, the Corolla does have a slight advantage, averaging 52.3 mpg (4.5 l / 100 km) combined. However, the Elantra is significantly more generous in terms of interior space. More noticeably in terms of headroom, where the Elantra has 40.3 inches (1,024 mm) vs the Corolla’s 39.2 inches (996 mm). In terms of legroom, the Elantra wins again. It offers 42.3 inches (1,074 mm) vs 40.0 inches (1,016 mm) in the front, and 38.0 inches (965. mm) vs 34.9 inches (886.5 mm) in the rear.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan - Driven
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Even if you’re a broad-shouldered Viking like me, fear not. The Elantra, once again, offers generous space. In the front, you get 56.5 inches (1,435 mm) vs 55.0 inches (1,397 mm) for the Corolla, and in the rear, 55.6 inches (1,412 mm) vs 54.5 (1,384 mm) for the Corolla.

Price-wise the Corolla starts from $19,600 and can go up to around $27,000. Considering the expected prices for the 2021 Elantra, they will be nearly identical in terms of pricing.

Read our full review on the Toyota Corolla

Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior
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The Honda Civic is another big name in the segment. The sedan version of the Civic returns to Europe after two generations of absence and makes a strong case for itself, primarily with good interior space and stout engines. If we talk about non-hybrid versions, the Civic offers better bang for the buck, and that’s without mentioning the Type-R version. However, the current Civic does not offer a hybrid drivetrain. Currently, you can have a 1.8-liter normally-aspirated four-cylinder with 139 horsepower and 128 pound-feet (174 Nm) of torque, or a 1.5-liter Turbocharged four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 162 pound-feet (220 Nm) of torque. Power goes through either a 6-speed manual or a CVT gearbox.

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior
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In terms of interior space, the Civic surpasses the Elantra in some aspects but falls short in others. With regards to legroom, the Civic offers 42.4 inches (1,077 mm) in the front and 37.0 inches (940 mm) in the rear. The headroom is 40.4 inches (1,026 mm), or 0.2 less than the Elantra and shoulder room – 56.9 inches (1,445 mm) front and 55.0 inches (1,397 mm) rear.

Price-wise, the Civic starts from $22,390, but a fully-loaded one can cost you over $33,000. This makes the Civic one of the slightly more expensive propositions in the segment.

Read our full review on the Honda Civic

Conclusion

2021 Hyundai Elantra Exterior
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About a decade ago, Hyundai went on a crusade to bury the “budget car” image. A tall order indeed, but the Korean brand managed to do, in the last 10 years, the same thing that Toyota and Honda did about 30 years ago. It took one of the biggest and most important markets by storm and managed to establish itself as an equal to the Japanese brands, instead of simpler a more affordable alternative to them.

The new Elantra is a well-thought-out automobile – spacious, futuristic, and intelligent. Hyundai proves that you can still make a complete package while keeping the price affordable. Moreover, it beat some of its main competitors to the Hybrid scene which is sure to give it some bonus points among the more eco-friendly spectrum of the audience.

Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read More
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