Hyundai Elantra Overview
Just call the Hyundai Elantra the comeback kid. Introduced in the early '90s, the economy-priced sedan didn't exactly get off to an auspicious beginning. Early Elantras quickly earned a well-deserved reputation for overall shoddiness and unreliability. Since then, though, the Elantra has dramatically improved, offering better reliability, agreeable performance and a long list of standard features. Suddenly, this Korean automaker's longtime also-ran is now a class leader. Take it for a spin and you'll likely be impressed by its smooth ride and responsive handling. Throw in its roomy cabin (which features a backseat that's spacious enough to accommodate grown-ups with ease), solid build quality and lengthy list of safety features, and the Elantra establishes itself as a formidable competitor in its category.
The Hyundai Elantra is a small sedan, although there is a related four-door hatchback known as the Elantra Touring. The sedan is available in GLS and SE trim levels. The base GLS car is sparsely equipped, but the optional Popular Equipment package adds a host of desirable Hyundai Elantra Accessories, including air-conditioning, cruise control and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, USB/iPod audio jack and satellite radio. The SE has this equipment as standard. A sunroof, heated front seats and leather upholstery are also available. Each Elantra is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 138 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque, mated to either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
Slide inside the Elantra and you'll find a cabin that transcends that of most others in this category. The look of the interior is more high-end than you'd expect, with attention paid to details like gauge illumination and build quality. There are lots of nooks and bins for storage, and both front and rear passengers are greeted with ample head-, shoulder- and legroom. In editorial reviews, the Hyundai Elantra scored points for its brisk acceleration and stable ride quality. Gripes concerned the din made by the car's engine above 3,500 rpm and the presence of a few cheap plastics on the dash. In consumer reviews, the Elantra was lauded for its sleek looks, fuel-efficient engine and spacious, upscale interior.
The current Elantra is representative of the car's fourth generation which made its debut for model-year 2007. This latest Elantra has maintained all the strengths of the previous-generation model, including a low price, capable performance and a spacious cabin. But it also offers a much nicer interior and crisper-than-ever handling sure to breathe new life into its somewhat bland image. Three trims were initially available: GLS, SE and Limited. For '08, the Limited was dropped in favor of an options package available with the SE. That year also saw stability control and brake assist added to the SE's standard equipment. For '09, suspension and steering tuning were revised, while the USB/iPod audio jack was made available.
If you're looking at older used Hyundai Elantras, we recommend you choose one from 2001 or later to be on the safe side. The previous (third) Elantra generation was produced from model years 2001-'06 and represented a considerable step up from the earlier cars. The sedan was bigger inside and out, and revised sheet metal gave it a more upscale look. Reliability and overall quality were also much improved. The standard features list was generous for the car's price, and included amenities like air-conditioning, full power accessories, side airbags, 15-inch wheels and an AM/FM cassette player. The 2.0-liter engine generated 135 hp (138 after 2003) and was mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
An Elantra hatchback, the Elantra GT, was also offered starting in '02 and came with additional standard features, including leather seats and a CD player. Initially, the sedan was available only as a base GLS version, but by 2003, Elantra sedans could be purchased in two trims ? GLS and the top-of-the-line GT. Although it still lacked the refinement of segment leaders like the Honda Civic, the third-generation Hyundai Elantra shone as a solid choice for buyers seeking maximum value for their money.The first-generation Elantra was produced from model years 1992-'95; during this period, Hyundai's hauler was available as a sedan only. Sadly, the car's build quality and reliability reflected its bargain-basement price. Elantras from this era were notorious for being sloppy in most of the areas that matter.