Monday, May 19, 2008

Sisters - and parents - enjoying their Elantras

The family bought two Hyundais and finds them comfortable and economical.

MUNCIE -- An accident that left a Hyundai Elantra a total loss ultimately led a local family to buy two new ones.

The crash occurred this past February when another driver lost control at an icy intersection and struck a 2004 Elantra being driven by Bailey Hall, a senior at Central High School. The car had been bought for Bailey and her sister, Kyle, by the girls' mother, Cate McClellan, and stepfather, Arno Wittig.

Cate is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the state of Indiana. Arno is a professor emeritus of psychological science at Ball State University.

In researching several cars he considered as replacements for the wrecked one, Arno found the 2008 Elantra offers many of the same advantages that led him to buy the 2004, and it has some extra features and updated styling.

"Consumer Reports rates the 2008 Elantra as the best sedan of its size," he said. "I also found in looking at several cars that for someone my height -- 6'2" -- the rearview mirror often interferes with outward visibility, but this is not the case in the Elantra.

"Cate and I decided to get two of them -- one for the girls to drive and one for us," Arno said.

They purchased the pair of 2008 Elantras at Gaddis Hyundai in Muncie.

Because Kyle attends Indiana University and is often away at school, Bailey has been the main driver of the family's red Elantra. She said she appreciates the car's comfort and trunk space, as well as its audio system.

"It's comfortable and easy to maneuver," she said. "I have enjoyed the three free months of XM radio, and I like that the audio system has a connection for an iPod."

Cate and Arno like the satellite radio feature of their Elantra, as well, and are considering buying subscriptions for both cars when the free trial period ends.

Bailey said she nearly lives out of her car as she drives it to school, athletic events and other extracurricular activities.

"I think I have half of my bedroom in the trunk," she said.

Kyle does get some time behind the wheel, too: Recently, she drove the Elantra to Charleston, S.C., and found it comfortable and efficient, using only two and one-half tanks of gas for the round trip.

Arno said the white Elantra he and Cate drive has been economical, as well.

"The worst gas mileage we've had is 29.9 miles per gallon," he said. "The best is almost 37 miles per gallon."

Even though the family also owns a van, the Elantra's superior fuel economy makes it more desirable for long drives, Cate said.

"We can take the Hyundai to Bloomington and back on a half-tank of gas -- and there's plenty of room in back for our 40 pound dog," she said. "Either one, or both, of the back seats can be folded down to increase the trunk space."

With the back seats up, the car carries four adults comfortably, Cate added.

Completely redesigned last year, the Elantra is now classified as a mid-size car, even though its fuel economy ratings and sticker price are more like those of compact models, said Jim Raines, sales representative at Gaddis Hyundai. "With mileage ratings well into the 30s, Five-Star safety ratings, a 100,000-mile warranty and a range of features not usually found on cars even close to this price, there's a lot of value in the Elantra," he said. "It has features to appeal to the younger driver and the savvy, experienced driver alike."

By KEN WICKLIFFE - For The Star Press - May 18, 2008
The Star Press

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