As it slowly expanded its beachhead in the US, Hyundai played it pretty safe. But now that the automaker has been acknowledged for making some darn good vehicles, it's getting a little more... experimental. First came the Kona, then the 2019 Santa Fe SUV and now the 2019 Elantra.
The 2019 Elantra is, frankly, a wild departure from the more demure 2018 model. The front end is a menagerie of triangles, from the headlights to the heavily sculpted lower fascia. A strong character line extends rearward toward slightly more sensible taillights, which are still more heavily styled than before. At the absolute minimum, it will help differentiate the Elantra from the rest of the compact-sedan crowd.
The interior is much more sensible. Not much has changed inside -- there's a new center stack with revised air vents and climate controls, in addition to a new storage tray. The instrument cluster and its surrounding trim received updates, as well. It's a good look that doesn't stray too far into the realm of weirdness.
The base SE trim is still pretty bare, but the second-lowest SEL trim picks up a number of standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist and a driver-attention monitor. Safe Exit Assist, which will warn you if you're about to open your door into a bicyclist or another car, is offered on the higher Limited trim with its optional Ultimate package.
The Elantra SE also makes do with a 5-inch colorsystem, but higher trims get Hyundai's latest system. AVN 5.0 has been updated with a faster processor, its 8-inch screen is an inch larger than previous iterations, and it includes both and . Embedded navigation, traffic info and incident data are all available too.
In terms of powertrains, everything's a holdover from the 2018 model. SE, SEL and Limited trims make do with Hyundai's 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle engine with 147 horsepower -- a manual transmission is available, but only on the base SE. The Eco trim gets an even more efficient 1.4-liter, turbocharged I4 with 128 horsepower, and the transmission changes to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Elantra Sport will return for 2019, as well, packing its 201-hp, 1.6-liter, turbocharged I4, but Hyundai won't have more details on that model until this fall.
The 2019 Hyundai Elantra goes on sale later this year, and pricing will be announced closer to its release date.