Hyundai Elantra 2021 : The best in its class?
Updated: Aug 4
We had the chance to try the new and improved 2021 Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra has become a synonym with reasonable pricing, nice features and great gas mileage. This generation is bringing these characteristics to a whole new level. Even though the number of competitors is shrinking now, the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze are no more. This Hyundai model faces competition from the Toyota Corolla, which was updated last year, and the Honda Civic will get a facelift in 2021. Let's not forget about the Elantra's cousin, the Kia Forte. In fact, they share the same platform. But enough talk about the others, let's focus on this new sedan from the Korean automaker.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra starts at $17,899 in the Essential trim; we drove the Preferred with a starting price of $21,899. At under $22,000, you get a car with heated seats and a heated steering wheel; a feature always welcomed in Canadian winters. You also get the push-to-start engine, automatic headlights, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and an improved rearview camera. When you are backing up, if your view is obstructed by a minivan or a pickup truck, the Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) feature helps you keep tabs with what's coming behind you. It worked perfectly well, and we appreciated it in busy parking lots, where people were everywhere. In our vehicle, we also had an 8" touch screen with wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay, which does everything you need but is a bit small for today's standard. The entry-level sound system was acceptable, for this price point.
This new Elantra's design is a step up from the previous one, especially in the front. The previous one looked like a fish, while this one looks bolder and angrier. The Corolla had a similar evolution, and both these vehicles look better now than they did a year ago. The Hyundai headlights are aligned with the grill's pointy edges, and the blinkers are slotted in this part, giving it a mean aspect, the design is particularly striking when you see it in person. In the back, the line that is present on the whole vehicle continues towards the trunk resulting in a bolder look that gives the Elantra a more distinctive look. Sideways, the car still looks pretty normal even though you can observe some sharp lines, but we believe the design overall is a big step in the right direction. Our car was in 'electric shadow,' a $200 colour option, but a pretty nice one with a more premium feel. Paired with the 16-inch black wheels, the exterior of the 2021 Elantra is very well put.
Unfortunately, the interior is a bit of a let-down. The 8-inch touch screen has some features in it, as mentioned before, but there's this sea of cheap black plastic that reminds you that you did not choose the fully-equipped Elantra. You also have a black plastic panel on the left side of the cluster, where you would typically have a screen in higher trims. But we liked the red-tinted cluster with the 4.2" LCD screen next to it; the big red speedometer brings back the interior's bolder exterior and doesn't feel out of place. Also missing was the automatic temperature adjustment, but this is acceptable in this price range. The seats are good for shorter and longer trips, the comfort and space for every passenger, front and back. The trunk is vast too, which makes it a very practical car, but this has been the case for a couple of years.
Unfortunately, the bolder styling does not reflect in a more powerful vehicle. All 2021 Elantra's come with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine with a CVT, but there is a 6-speed manual available too, which is a good thing because the CVT is more focused on fuel economy. And the fact is, it works! On the highway, we had a 5.6L/100 km average. It was around 7.5L/100 km in the city. In return, the engine's power is limited; the engine only produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. All is not bad; in Sport mode, the CVT feels a bit sportier but doesn't affect the handling, which is very vague; furthermore, the suspension is quite soft. Overall, it's a good vehicle for its class.
Finally, the 2021 Hyundai Elantra is a class-leading vehicle in every aspect. With its styling, its use of inside space, fuel economy, it's the full package at an affordable price and should definitely be on your shopping list.