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2020 Hyundai Elantra adopts a CVT, standard safety equipment

The base model isn't so basic anymore.

2019 Hyundai Elantra Limited
Jake Holmes/Roadshow

Underneath the polarizing new exterior introduced for the 2019 model year, the Hyundai Elantra still represents on heck of a major value in the compact sedan segment. Now some additional standard equipment for the 2020 model year will boost its worth (and its efficiency) even further.

Hyundai on Wednesday introduced the 2020 Elantra. The update focuses on adding standard equipment to the base model, but many improvements affect higher trims, too. Buyers won't have to wait too long for these cars to arrive in dealerships, which should happen sometime in the spring.

The biggest improvement for the 2020 Elantra is the addition of a new continuously variable transmission. Replacing the automatic on all trims with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 (that is, every trim except for Eco and Sport), Hyundai estimates that this new transmission will add 2 miles per gallon to each car's combined MPG estimates. Both the SE and Sport trims have lost their manual transmissions, which is a shame.

The 2020 model doesn't look any different than last year, because that's when it went under the knife and came out looking like this.


Also important is the addition of Hyundai's SmartSense safety suite for all trims, including the base SE, which didn't have these systems in the 2019 model year. The suite is relatively small, packing lane-keep assist, a driver attention monitor and automatic emergency braking, but it's still a big step forward for the base model. Higher trims already had some or all of these systems as standard.

The other additions are relatively minor by comparison. All models now include dual-zone automatic climate control, a 3.5-inch monochromatic display in the gauge cluster and a dual-shell horn. Eco models get stop-start, too.

Otherwise, the models are the same as before. Every model except for Eco and Sport makes do with a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter I4. The Eco packs a 128-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Sport has a 1.6-liter turbo I4 with 201 horsepower and uses the same transmission as the Eco.

Despite the updates, the 2020 Elantra remains a serious value. The base Elantra SE starts at $19,870 including destination. The Eco trim starts at $22,170, the Sport bumps that price tag up to $23,720, and the Elantra lineup tops out at the $24,720 Limited trim.