You'll Like The 2011 Hyundai Elantra If...
If you're looking for a compact sedan with a sporty design, excellent fuel economy and loads of safety and tech features at a lower cost than comparably-equipped competitors, then the Hyundai Elantra should be on your test-drive list.
You May Not Like The 2011 Hyundai Elantra If...
If you don't hang on to your vehicles for a long time, the Hyundai Elantra might not be the right choice for you. Although its 36-month residual value is on par with the gold-standard Honda Civic, the Elantra loses its value faster over time and falls behind the Civic after five years - meaning you will get less on your trade when it's time to buy a new car.
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra ups the ante in the compact-car segment by offering 40 mile-per-gallon fuel economy at a price lower than many of its competitors.
The Hyundai Elantra's interior is nicely appointed and, although plastic can be found on nearly every surface of the cabin, the style is functional and well-done. The Elantra's gauges and center-stack controls are very user-friendly and the integration of the optional navigation system is one of the best we've seen. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra also features 43.6 inches of front legroom, allowing even tall people to stretch their legs. In back, passengers have equally robust legroom, but headroom is a different story. Since the exterior design of the cabin roof slopes to the rear quite a bit, back-seat passengers over six feet tall might find themselves hitting the headliner. Trunk space is larger than most competitors (only bested by the Chevrolet Cruze) and 60/40 split-folding rear seats make it easy to transport bulky items.
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra looks sporty, with a sculptured fascia and an aggressively sweeping shoulder line. Competitors offer less-flashy styling, giving the Elantra sedan a leg up in terms of aesthetics. The GLS rides on 15-inch steel wheels while 16-inch alloys are optional. Moving up to the Limited adds athletic 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps and turn signals on the body-color heated power mirrors.
The Hyundai Elantra may not be the sportiest car in its class, but it is still fun to drive. You can feel enough of a connection to the road that you wouldn't mind putting it through the paces on a curvy weekend drive, but you also won't feel every pothole or road imperfection, making it a great daily commuter car. Steering is just right, and the turning radius is one of the best in its class - which helps in crowded parking lots. Our one caveat is that the engine can get a little buzzy when pushed on a grade or on the highway, but the shifts are smooth and the minor engine noise is a small price to pay for the savings you'll see at the gas pump.
A base 2011 Hyundai Elantra has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $15,500, but opting for the automatic transmission adds about $2,000. The higher Limited trim level starts at just under $21,000 and tops $24,000 when fully loaded. The Hyundai Elantra typically costs about $1,000 less than similar editions of the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, and the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price as this is being written is either at MSRP of just below it. As for resale value, we expect the 2011 Hyundai Elantra to hold its value well over a five-year period, falling just short of the resale values of the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic and exceeding that of the Nissan Sentra.
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra's base GLS trim level comes with the essentials and more, including a six-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power accessories, tilt steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seats and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with Satellite radio and USB/auxiliary input jacks. The Elantra includes an impressive array of standard safety equipment, including six airbags, electronic stability and traction controls, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and a remote keyless entry anti-theft system with panic button.
Opting for the up-level Limited trim adds a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls and leather seats. Packages available for the GLS include a Preferred Equipment Package, which adds Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 16-inch alloy wheels; and a Navigation Package, which adds a seven-inch navigation screen, automatic headlamps and a rearview camera. The Limited can be equipped with the Premium Package, which features remote push-button start, navigation, a rearview camera and automatic headlamps.
Heated Rear Seats
The 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited offers not only heated leather seats in front, but also in the rear - a feature practically unheard of in anything less than a luxury vehicle.
It's true that with the onslaught of smart phones having a navigation system in your car is less of a priority, but Hyundai integrates the seven-inch screen so well into the Elantra's instrument panel (and includes a rearview camera) that we would spend the extra money to get the optional package.
Under the Hood
The only engine offered in the 2011 Hyundai Elantra is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC for those drivers who want to shift their own gears on occasion. We had the opportunity to drive both the manual and automatic Elantras and found both drivetrains have their virtues. The manual transmission shifts smoothly and easily and would make a solid choice if you wanted to save the $2,000 premium that the automatic adds to the bottom line. The automatic provides sure shifts, and if you want to shift your own gears, the SHIFTRONIC system is easy to use.
1.8-liter in-line four cylinder
148 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
131 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/40 (manual), 29/40 (automatic)
For years Hyundai was dogged by a negative reputation for sub-par vehicles, but the Korean manufacturer has turned the corner and drastically improved its image by producing higher-quality and more appealing products like the 2011 Elantra. Often costing about a thousand dollars less than similarly equipped versions of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, the Elantra is an exceptional value with a host of standard features, one of the best warranties on the market and an EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway. For 2011, the Elantra has been redesigned and sports a style that is sure to steal some attention away from the category leaders.