By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
After driving a Volvo to the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) Outdoor Activity Vehicle of the Year we did a test car swap for a Hyundai for the 150-mile trip back to our home northeast of Portland, Ore. Because we drive about 150 different new cars a year, we sometimes don?t pay attention to which model we are getting into ? in this case, we were tired after driving different 28 vehicles on- and off-road in the last two days. We just wanted to get home.
After loading our things into the trunk and pairing the cell phone with the Hyundai?s Bluetooth we headed south. Like we do on most out of town trips, we had an audio book in Bill?s phone to listen to. As we drove listening to the James Paterson mystery we started on way to the event, we took some time to check out the Hyundai. The quality-feeling interior was well-organized and filled with large intuitive-placed controls. The infotainment and navigation touch screen is mounted at the top of the center stack just below the dash top making it easy to see and reach.
As the audio book played in the background we started talking about the car, both doing a once over, and we were impressed by the upscale feel and the abundant features. We both assumed it must be the new Sonata, but as Barbara pulled out the paperwork and saw that we were driving the 2017 Hyundai Elantra, the smaller, more economical Hyundai.
Wow, this new Elantra is impressive and certainly doesn?t feel like an entry-level model. When we stopped for a quick snack at Longview, Wash., we took a closer look at the Hyundai Elantra on the outside. It has great lines ? a stylish four-door sedan styling, taking styling cues from its two larger siblings, the Sonata and Azera.
The front end has Hyundai?s signature hexagonal grille our test car had the available HID headlights with the Dynamic Bending Lights that moved the direction the steering wheel was turned. It also has some cool LED daytime running lights. A sporty lower front fascia and functional front wheel air curtains helps manage airflow around the wheels to improve aerodynamics, plus there are other aerodynamic enhancements under the car and at the rear of the Elantra which combined with the sleek exterior to produce an impressive 0.27 coefficient of drag.
The Elantra seemed to have nearly all the new technology we look for in new cars ? and features we?d want on our own car. However, we didn?t expect to see many of them on an entry-level model. For example, it had an excellent navigation system, heated front and rear seats, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert and many other important comfort and safety features. Our test car was the top-of-the-line Limited, so many of the features are standard, but it was also equipped with two major option packages, the Tech Package (the navigation, up-scale audio, sun roof, etc.) and the Ultimate Package which added the HID headlights, Automatic Emergency Braking, Smart Cruise, Lane Keep Assist, and driver?s seat memory system).
The standard powertrain on the Limited and the base SE is a 147-hp, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic? – a manual shifting mode. The acceleration was good, but a step below the impressive turbocharged Sonata numbers. Zero to 60 mph acceleration takes 7.9 seconds according to buff magazine testing. However, fuel economy on our test car had an EPA rating of 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the SE with the same 2.0-liter engine. A third model, the ECO is powered by a 128-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed Eco-Shift Dual Clutch Transmission with Shiftronic. The Eco model has and EPA estimate of 40 mpg on the highway.
The further we drove the more we were able to experience the stiff new body structure along with the improved ride and handling. The all new Elantra is about the same size as the previous generation, but the new generation is larger inside and is classified by the EPA as a mid-size.
By using 53 percent advanced high-strength steel (as compared with 21 percent on the previous model) and 40 times more structural adhesive at stress points engineers were able to cut the weight and increase the torsional rigidity by 29.5 percent. The suspension was also modified to reduce body roll on corners.
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is roomy and very comfortable, plus at 14.0-cubic feet, the trunk is one of the largest in its class. The seats which are covered in fabric or leather (on the Limited) are made using an environmental friendly SoyFoam?.
By the time we arrived home we were sold on the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited. It had the features, quality and was the size we like. This was a car that would go to the top of our shopping list, if we were looking for a new car next week.
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra is available in three front-wheel drive models, the SE, ECO and Limited. The SE pricing starts at $18,820, including the destination charge, for the SE with a six-speed manual transmission. The ECO starts at $21,485, and the Limited at 23,185. With all the available option packages, the Elantra Limited is priced at $27,585. This car is a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Combined with the excellent warranty program and Hyundai?s outstanding reputation, this is a car to watch, test drive and perhaps buy. To get more details go to the Hyundai website at https://www.hyundaiusa.com/elantra/index.aspx .