The 2017 Hyundai Elantra small four-door is an all-new version of a car that came from humble roots to being a major player in the highly competitive compact sedan market.

The last version, launched for 2011, blended eye-grabbing design and a features-for-money equation that brought it into the major leagues among compacts.

Now, the newest version is every bit the equal of the very good Honda Civic and the longstanding leader, Toyota's Corolla.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Hyundai Elantra - Review

We tested the most luxurious version of the new 2017 Elantra over a long weekend covering 343 miles last month.

It's EPA-rated at 32 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway) with a six-speed automatic transmission, which will be by far the most common choice with its 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

You can do incrementally better yet by specifying the low-end Elantra SE, which is rated 1 mpg higher on all three measurements: 33 mpg combined (29 city, 38 highway).

2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

A six-speed manual gearbox is also available, but it imposes an efficiency penalty. It's rated at 29 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 36 mpg highway).

Over our usual test route, which is two-third highway miles and one-third lower-speed and stop-and-go city and suburban driving, we achieved 36.9 mpg as indicated on the car's trip computer.

That's pretty much what we'd expected, but it underscores the gains in fuel efficiency made by compact cars over just the last 10 years, when 30 or 32 mpg was about the best you could hope for under any circumstance.

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We found the latest Elantra to be an exceptionally handsome shape, a smart evolution of the startling and exaggerated curves of the previous model.

Unlike the larger Sonata, Hyundai's designers managed to keep enough similarity in the new design so it's clearly an Elantra—which just can't be said of the overly generic latest Sonata.

A couple of friends even saw some Audi A7 in the fastback tail, which is high praise indeed for a mass-market Korean sedan. Once it was pointed out, we saw it too.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

2017 Hyundai Elantra

We're fans of Hyundai's controls and ergonomics, which we find intuitive, logically laid-out, and easy to learn.

The driving position is low, with front passengers' legs stretching out toward the pedals as in a sports car, rather than the more chair-like SUV seating position so many buyers are used to now.

We noted that the new Elantra has the smallest tunnel in the floor between the rear-seat footwells, that we've seen, which makes carrying a third rider easier than in other compacts

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Hyundai's made gains in the refinement of the Elantra, which is quiet, smooth, and overall noticeably more refined than the last generation model.

Because ours was the absolute top-of-the-line model—an Elantra Limited Ultimate, apparently—we did wonder whether the sensible small-car interior lived up to a price verging on $28,000.

The interior uses quite a lot of hard plastic surfaces, though their patterning is so good that you wouldn't know it until you rap them with your knuckles. Matte-silver accents are, by now, de rigeur.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, Catskill Mountains, NY, Apr 2016

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, Catskill Mountains, NY, Apr 2016

We concluded that this top-end Elantra probably just snuck under the wire for acceptability at the top of this price class.

Random notes:

  • The power driver's seat slides back when the car is switched off; that's helpful due to the exceptionally steep windshield pillar
  • But that same steepness means that the sun visor sat just 4 inches in front of the driver's forehead
  • Unlike some other makers, the adaptive cruise control won't accelerate once a lane change is signaled; it waits until it can't sense a car ahead
  • The lane-keeping assist function allows the driver 15 seconds with hands off the steering wheel
  • Ergonomic oddity: the black rectangular switch for the parking sensor has a blue light to show it's on, but the identical switch next to it for lane-keeping does not. Why?
  • The direct-injected engine seems to have a slight lag between the accelerator pedal being pushed and actual acceleration

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, Catskill Mountains, NY, Apr 2016

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, Catskill Mountains, NY, Apr 2016

Our 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited test car carried a base price of $22,350, plus two bundles of options as well as extra-cost floor mats.

A $2,250 Tech Package added a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen display, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, an eight-speaker premium audio system, a power sunroof, heated front and rear seats, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited First Drive Video

On top of that, the $1,900 Ultimate Package (!!) included high-intensity-discharge headlamps, memory seats, and a collection of electronic active-safety systems: automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist.

The floormats added another $125, and with a mandatory delivery fee of $835, the bottom line on our "Limited Ultimate" Elantra came to $27,710.


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