By Barbara Schaffer
San Jose, Calif.?Hyundai?s best-selling model, the Elantra, comes in two distinct flavors the sedan and the GT, a five-door hatchback. While each body configuration offers its own advantages, I?ve generally preferred hatchback because of its sportier looks and flexible wagon-like ability to adapt to different situations from ferrying people to expanded cargo carrying ability.
I spent a few days recently in the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT five-door hatchback while on another trip to California to watch my grandson play in a high school football game. (I am his biggest fan, and probably the loudest.)
I first saw the refreshed 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show in February. On the outside the main upgrades to the European design include a new grille design with horizontal chrome and argent slats along with stylish new 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside the 2016 GT has increased available features like ventilated driver and passenger seats (a first in this segment), an advanced navigation system with HD radio and Apple Siri and the next generation Blue Link connectivity. The Hyundai Blue Link? system adds a new remote start with Google-powered climate control and destination search. I confess I didn?t get a chance to try that, but only because I tend be a bit technologically challenged without help from my grandchildren or husband.
I think services like Hyundai?s Blue Link are some of the most important safety features. Blue Link adds Automatic Collision Notification and SOS Emergency Assistance along with programs that keep the owner up-to-date on the vehicle health. The Blue Link, which requires a subscription, is offered in three service packages: Connected Care, Remote and Guidance. The Care is mostly emergency services and maintenance. The Remote package provides remote starting or signaling, stolen car recovery and some other ?policing? type services like being a tattletale if someone goes somewhere they aren?t supposed to. The Guidance offers navigation assistance mostly for cars without the navigation system.
The 2016 Elantra GT has a 173-hp 2.0-liter direct injection engine with dual overhead cams and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing. That?s a lot of complex equipment to make the GT go, and it goes quite nicely. I couldn?t find any actual timed 0 to 60 mph test results, but estimates say it takes about eight seconds, which is not bad for a little compact. The front-drive Elantra comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, while my test vehicle had the optional ($1,000) six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shifting capability. The Shiftronic is important to me because I am shifter. I use the manual shift mode to slow the vehicle using engine braking on curves and to maintain better control on corners, like on my favorite California test road ? Hecker Pass, which snakes over the Santa Cruz Mountains from Gilroy to Watsonville. Actually the GT is tuned to handle better, while the sedan is more for comfort.
The GT suspension is tight and that allowed me to really enjoy the sweeping corners and hairpin turns on the pass. It felt very agile and controlled with a good steering feel and brakes that feel solid when I needed to stop quickly.
I?m an economical driver; I always get significantly better fuel economy than my husband does when he?s driving. The Elantra GT has an EPA rating of 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. I actually averaged 30.9 mpg during the few days I drove it.
The interior of the five-door is one of the largest in this category of compact hatchbacks and I tried it out several times ? my passengers commented how comfortable it was.
For a car with a base price under $20,000, okay, $20,625 with the $825 destination charge, the Elantra GT is very well equipped. There is only one trim level available and there are only two option packages available. Standard features, before the two option packages, include a driver selectable steering mode, a full audio system including SiriusXM radio, cruise control, heated front seats and a couple of dozen other features.
In the options column there is the $1,975 GT Style Package with adds fog lights, sport-tuned suspension, power driver seat, aluminum pedals, proximity key entry and push button start, Blue Link? and several other features. The GT A/T Tech Package ($3,950) adds panoramic sunroof, leather seating, LED taillights, ventilated front seats, navigation, HD radio, rearview camera, auto headlights and Blue Link Telematics (Gen 2). Those all combine to make a very well outfitted compact car with a very fair price. My fully loaded test car had a bottom line price of $26,675.
The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT is well-built, fun to drive and it looks good, too. It?s a perfect car for someone to move up to, or for someone looking to downsize without having to lose features. And another big plus is the best in the industry warranty.