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.
It's true that more and more car shoppers are turning away from sedans in favor of crossovers, but that doesn't mean there's no reason to consider small cars. With affordable pricing and impressive fuel efficiency, compact sedans continue to attract value-conscious buyers who look for practicality. The Hyundai Elantra, for instance, may have seen its sales slip, but it's still an important player in the new-car market. In January of this year, its sales figures outpaced the entire Acura lineup.
For the 2019 model year, the Hyundai Elantra receives its most major update since this generation of the sedan was introduced in 2016. Though most of the mechanical underpinnings are unchanged, the Elantra has a new look on the outside and inside the cabin to help keep it fresh in the face of increasingly stiff competition.
There's no chance you'll mistake the refreshed Elantra for last year's model, what with all the triangles and sharp lines on its nose. Nearly every exterior panel is new this year, as well as the lights and wheels, and overall the car has a tidier and more sharp-edged look than its curvy predecessor. First impressions from photos of the refreshed car were not necessarily positive, but the Elantra's styling is more appealing in three dimensions in the real world. The optional LED taillights are an especially nice touch, with lightning bolt-like signatures when illuminated, while my tester's 17-inch wheels are surprisingly sporty and stylized for an otherwise affordable car.
The Good The 2019 Hyundai Elantra offers good value for money and solid fuel economy figures.
The Bad It's not as satisfying to drive, nor quite as fuel-efficient, as newer rivals.
The Bottom Line A bold new design nudges up the appeal of Hyundai's affordable, practical small sedan.
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