The 2016 Elantra offers premium style and features at an economy car price point. It is available in two models -- sedan or 5-door GT, which is about nine inches shorter than the sedan. The sedan offers SE, Value Edition, Sport and Limited trims, while the GT is a single-trim model. No matter the body style, the Elantra packs a lot of car into a relatively small package. The base SE, Value Edition, and top Limited models are powered by a 145-horsepower 1.8L engine, while Sport sedans and GTs feature a 2.0L 4-cylinder putting out a healthy 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. This configuration is rated at 24 mpg in the city. SE, Value Edition, and Sport sedans feature a standard 6-speed manual transmission and optional 6-speed automatic, while the Limited is standard with the automatic. The GT offers buyers the choice of manual or automatic.
The SE comes equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks and power windows with driver's side auto-down, as well as an AM/FM 6-speaker stereo with CD and MP3 compatibility. A 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback is also standard. The Elantra Value Edition rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and bundles pleasantries from the previous SE Popular Equipment Package into standard features, including a power sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, proximity key with push-button start, heated front seats, integrated turn signals and chrome and aluminum accents.
In addition to the bigger engine, the Elantra Sport includes 17-inch alloys, a sport-tuned suspension, projector headlights with LED accents and LED taillights, integrated turn signals in the side mirrors and many more exterior cues. Inside there is heated cloth front seating, a 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display with rearview camera, aluminum pedals, and steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls.
The Limited sedan adds Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, which combines infotainment features, smart-phone connectivity and safety services. Front and rear heated seats are also included, as are push-button start and automatic dual climate control. Adding the Ultimate Package to the Limited adds a 7-inch screen housing a navigation system, a power sunroof and an upgraded 360-watt stereo system.
Finally, the practical five-door GT features 16-inch alloys. Fog lights, daytime running lights, remote entry, cloth seating with heated front seats, tilt/telescoping steering with cruise and audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a 60/40 fold-flat rear seatback are all standard. It also features a 3-position (comfort/sport/normal) Driver Selectable Steering Mode -- a segment first -- and a driver's side knee airbag, which is a Hyundai first. A Style Package adds larger alloys and the sport-tuned suspension, along with aluminum pedals, Blue Link telematics, LED taillights and more.
Like any good compact sedan, the seventh-generation Hyundai Elantra offers something for everyone. If you're looking for a fuel-sipper, there's a on offer. Those in search of a little more driving excitement can opt for a turbocharged N Line. And for everyone else, there are the standard versions, all of which are armed with standout looks, a ton of technology features and competent on-road manners that make it the most competitive Elantra sedan to date.
One thing is for sure, the Elantra isn't just another underwhelming face in the crowd. Hyundai's entry is visually out-there with a mammoth grille, slim headlights, fast roofline and prominent sharp lines on the side and rear end. The creases show up particularly well on my Quartz White test car that rides on 17-inch wheels with black-painted insets that are as visually daring as the rest of the sedan. Is it all a bit much? Maybe to some, but it's a different and cohesive overall design.
Things inside the Elantra aren't quite as futuristic. The clean, smartly organized layout features a center stack angled towards the driver. Controls for climate and infotainment are all large and clearly marked, making them easy to use while driving. That's not to say there aren't some efforts to visually jazz things up, though. The four-spoke steering wheel reminds me of a monster from Space Invaders and a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster -- optional on the Elantra SEL and standard on range-topping Limited -- is snazzy with different design themes for each drive mode.
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