Fully redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Hyundai Elantra is now available in sedan, coupe and hatchback versions for 2013. The hatchback version, the Hyundai Elantra GT, is reviewed separately.
When it comes to making recommendations for compact car shoppers, it’s hard to pass up all the Hyundai Elantra has to offer. It’s stylish, thanks to Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design language; it’s roomy on the inside, comfortably accommodating four adults; it’s safe, earning top scores in crash tests; it’s frugal, delivering up to 38 mpg highway fuel economy and it’s affordable on nearly any kind of budget.
In fact, we’re comfortable labeling the Elantra one of the best compact cars on the market today, regardless of price. Where others cut corners to save money, Hyundai seems to take the opposite approach, frequently delighting customers with style, fit, finish and content not always seen in the compact segment.
To boost fuel economy over the previous generation, Hyundai put the redesigned Elantra on a diet, paring weight wherever possible. Doing so allowed the switch from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to a 1.8-liter four cylinder, which delivers a more-than-adequate 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. Best of all, Hyundai allows buyers to choose between a six-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual, with either choice returning 38 mpg highway, 28 mpg city and 32 mpg combined in the sedan. Coupe versions deliver the same fuel economy with the manual transmission, but lose one mpg city and highway when fitted with the six-speed automatic.
The Coupe is the more engaging of the two, thanks to quicker steering and a stiffer rear suspension, but the Hyundai Elantra is more about delivering value and economy than it is about delivering autocross trophies. Ride quality is very good, even over rough or broken pavement, and the interior is noticeably quieter than most non-luxury compact competitors.
The interior is another reason to shop the Elantra. It’s got cutting-edge style, and comes with available features like a touchscreen infotainment system and voice-guided navigation, audio and phone controls. It’s roomy, too, and the interior volume is large enough to classify the Elantra as a mid-size car, even in Coupe form. While both rows have a reasonable amount of legroom, taller passengers may find the second row seats to be lacking the required headroom. Coupe versions lack a single-lever control for moving the front seat, making entry challenging for all but the most nimble. If you routinely haul more than one passenger, the sedan may be the better choice.
Though the Elantra Coupe has not yet been tested, the Elantra Sedan’s crash test performance earned it “Top Safety Pick” honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. All 2013 Elantra sedans have achieved a five-star overall rating in NHTSA crash tests, with a four-star score for frontal impacts.
For more details, see the full review of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
NOTE: The Elantra is one of several Hyundai vehicles found to have misstated gas-mileage ratings. A consumer group's complaints over lower real-world economy have led to an EPA check of Hyundai's self-certified numbers--which in turn has led to lowered official ratings from the original 29/40-mpg numbers. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.