Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2007 Hyundai Elantra: Preview

2007 Hyundai Elantra Preview

Attractive value for less than $14,000 by Thom Blackett Oh, those Hyundai guys, they can be clever buggers. During the official launch of the 2007 Elantra at the 2006 New York International Auto Show, Hyundai’s vice president of product development, John Krafcik, boasted that his company’s updated sedan outclassed benchmarks like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. In terms of quality and features, that may or may not prove to be the case, but more literally, the 2007 Elantra has grown to become an EPA-rated midsize car, technically out-classing the compact Honda and Toyota. Nice play on words, Mr. Krafcik. Besides being bigger, the redesigned Elantra greets the 2007 model year with an all-new look, from the sleek new body to the revised interior, a more efficient four-cylinder engine, a bevy of safety features like standard side and side-curtain airbags, and a base GLS model that is said to sticker at less than $14,000. Couple all of that with Hyundai’s excellent warranty, and it’s easy to see why this little ride needed to stretch a bit. Unfortunately, the issue of gas prices and fuel economy continues to be relevant, leading more buyers to look at smaller cars to do more of everything – they’ve got to offer comfort, acceptable performance, utility, lots of desirable features, and good looks. Hyundai aims to please on all fronts with the 2007 Elantra, a ride accented by a stylish new design, a cabin that qualifies it as a midsize sedan, a long list of standard items included in the GLS’s sub $14,000 base price, and a competent powertrain that promises improved fuel economy over the outgoing model. The Elantra is Hyundai’s best-selling model, recently surpassing one million sales since being introduced in the U.S., and the changes for 2007 will help it charge on to the two-million mark. Due to its larger size, the 2007 Hyundai Elantra is classified by the EPA as a midsize sedan, putting it in the unenviable position of competing with cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. However, due to its low price and dimensions more in line with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, this popular Korean nameplate will continue to do battle with compact rides. And that’s a good thing, since its 2.0-liter engine would get smoked by true midsize rivals. The Elantra’s 16-valve four-cylinder engine, featuring continuously variable valve timing, puts out 138 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 136 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm with an ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV) rating; the so-called Green States, such as Maine and Vermont, get a super ultra low emissions (SULEV) rating that drops horsepower to 132 and torque to 133 lb.-ft. A partial zero emissions (PZEV) rating is expected for California. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Under the new skin is fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, a power rack-and-pinion steering system, and a four-wheel antilock disc brake setup with electronic brake force distribution. Three versions of the 2007 Hyundai Elantra are available: GLS, SE, and Limited. Though it’s the bottom-rung player, the GLS comes well equipped with items like front-side and side-curtain airbags, front active headrests, antilock disc brakes, power windows, a tilt steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and a 60/40 folding rear bench seat. For a bit more coin, options such as a 172-watt sound system, air conditioning, a power sunroof, and a Sport Package can be added. Poised in the middle of the lineup is the SE, which ups the standard content list with fog lights, heated mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55 tires, remote entry, a leather steering wheel, the 172-watt radio with steering wheel controls, cruise control, and a power mirrors and power door locks. The Limited trim gets standard leather upholstery and heated front seats, with unique options like a 220-watt sound system with an MP3 player and six-disc CD changer. Hyundai continues to impress with capable, stylish products that often offer an unexpected level of refinement, especially given their price points. And, of course, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty only serves to sweeten the pot.

There’s still room for improvement, and those stylish looks are sometimes too heavily influenced by the brand’s competitors, but there’s no arguing with the company’s recent success. The 2007 Elantra should only bolster the Hyundai’s already good fortunes with its attractive design, upgraded interior, focus on safety, and overall bang for the buck. Official pricing has not been released, though company officials claim that the base GLS will sell for less than $14,000. Models will go on sale during the latter half of 2006. Source: autosite.com

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