Redesigned Hyundai Elantra boasts roominess for everyoneLittle surprise that Korean carmaker Hyundai chose New York for the world debut of its redesigned Elantra. This compact has found more than a million buyers in the United States, eager to save money and gasoline and possibly avoid costly maintenance down the road with a 10-year powertrain warranty.
Elantra, already a formidable competitor for the big Japanese makers, ups the ante again for its American friends this year. The redesigned version is bigger for '07 -- roomier than most everything in its class -- and has a better ride, too. And for my money, it's better looking than a lot of the other guys.
A CONFIDENT STANCE
Elantra has a more confident stance. It is better sculpted on the sides. It has a more upscale look, highlighted by fog lights this year and chrome trim on the headlights and grille.
More than two inches wider and two inches taller, Elantra also has considerably more interior space. That means more hip and shoulder room in the front and rear. No kidding, the rear is actually comfortable for adults, too. Good leg room and foot room even for my dainty 12s.Hyundai boasts that the Elantra, with 97.9 cubic feet of passenger room and 14.2 cubic feet of trunk space, is the roomiest in its class. That class contains monster-sellers like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra.
Heck, the EPA says it's so roomy it doesn't even belong in the compact segment. The EPA calls it a midsize.
Whatever. Why do they have to complicate things?
Besides its roominess, Elantra's looks improved on the inside, too. Two-tone color schemes and blue backlighting on the dashboard instruments give it a more vibrant look and feel.
The craftsmanship inside also is a notch better. Panels fit tightly and plastic and leather feels good. Yes, I did say leather. Can't find that in every compact, you know.
The Elantra for 2007 includes steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls.
Plenty of room for stuff: The center console is on the small side, but quite deep. There are pockets on the doors and seatbacks for rear passengers.
Hyundai installed its 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine into the Elantra, and it proves to be adequate. It puts out 138 horses and 136 foot-pounds of torque, and while it may not dazzle any driving enthusiasts, it was sufficient for those looking for a solid, everyday drive. The engine gets a bit noisy at higher speeds, however.
ON THE ROAD
Mileage is an agreeable 28 city, 36 on the highway trips.
The tester was equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission that shifted smoothly and on cue. Standard is a five-speed manual tranny.
On the road the Elantra is an agile performer, with decent steering feedback. Its ride is comfortable, but it rates only fair on corners with a good amount of body lean. Still, it grips the road well.
Visibility has been helped this year by a 1.8-inch boost in seat height, and it makes a difference. And rear head restraints can be pushed into the seat so they're out of the way.
Every Elantra comes with standard anti-lock braking system as well as six air bags: two dual fronts, two front seat-mounted side-impact bags, and two side-curtain air bags for both front and rear.
Elantra comes in three trims, starting with the base GLS, at $13,995, which doesn't include much more than power windows. Even the air conditioning is extra. Most will want to include a preferred package that adds AC and a pretty good 172-watt audio system with tweeters.
The sporty SE at $16,295, gets 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio and leather-wrapped steering wheels with audio and cruise controls. The Limited, at $17,295, goes more upscale with leather seats and door panels.
A sunroof is available on all models. So are navigation and chrome wheels.
With competent performance, more room inside, lots of standard safety features and Hyundai's attractive five-year bumper-to-bumper and 10-year powertrain warranties, the Elantra is worth checking out.
ut beware, the price can climb over $20,000 if you're too generous with yourself. My suggestion: Go with the base GLS, which has standard features like power windows, intermittent wipers and vanity mirrors. Then opt for the Preferred option package to add cruise control, remote entry, trunk release and fog lights. Now you have a nifty car, and you're still in the mid-teens.
Posted on Sun, Feb. 04, 2007 The Miami Herald