The package is compelling for those who value feature packed vehicles with the latest technology.
The Hyundai Elantra has been on the market since 1990, working hard to gain the trust and respect of the mass market. Hyundai has successfully established the Elantra as competitor to the long standing giants in the segment. Hyundai’s excellent designs and packaging has gradually made this 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid a solid alternative to the ever so popular Civic and Corolla.
In recent history, the Elantra has always been the more interesting and feature packed option in the compact sedan segment attracting a significant portion of the buyers in the market. With the market moving towards hybrid tech, Hyundai will not allow itself to be left behind. This new Elantra Hybrid is the first ever Elantra offered with a hybrid powertrain.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra is an all-new model with a completely new design. Recent Hyundai designs have been ultra-modern with aggressive lines and sharp angles. A large chrome accent in the lower front bumper is a unique feature not seen before. One would wonder if the glare would become a problem for oncoming traffic. LED lights both front and rear keep the exterior looking sharp at night.
The silhouette of the Elantra mimics those ever so popular four door coupes. Unfortunately the design is unbalanced by a short wheel base creating a lot of overhang before the front wheels and behind the rears. The design elements are futuristic and look good in sections, however the Elantra as a whole may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Hyundai has tried very hard to create a futuristic cabin for those who want to be in the forefront of technology. The dash is dominated by a huge gloss black slab connecting the gauges to the center infotainment screen. It’s a pleasing design from afar. In reality the center piece is just an inconvenience which highlights the low quality material choices in the Elantra, putting hard plastic right in the driver’s face.
Keeping the gloss black dash clean with be a nightmare with dust and fingerprints highly visible. The main touch points for your hands like the steering, shifter and door panels are lined with nice leather and not just synthetic materials. The seats have a nice contoured design but feel stiff and flat on long drives.
We must applaud Hyundai for giving the Elantra some real tech to back up the forward design. The eight-inch touchscreen display is standard with Apple CarPlay and Android auto. It’s a key feature which makes the car feel familiar and tailored off the bat. The wireless charging pad means you never have to worry about running out of juice on your phone. An abundance of USB ports makes it easy for your passengers as well.
The impressive 10.25 inch full digital instrument cluster is high resolution with all the information you need. The presence of this screen brings the interior attractiveness up a few notches. BlueLink is an advanced system which keeps drivers connected to the Elantra via a smartphone app. This can remote set the climate control, lock and unlock or even find your car If you don’t remember where you parked it.
Features such as heated seats and steering make this a warm and comfortable cabin in the winter months. Details such as silver accents and textured silver HVAC knobs keep this car feeling more upscale than the price suggests. Six-way adjustable seats and dual zone climate control both ensure drivers can get comfortable in the Elantra. Rear legroom is also impressive with plenty of room for two adults, though the center seat is for children only.
The Elantra handles is light and responsive. In daily driving conditions, it is nimble and easy to drive. The steering is never fighting or making things difficult. However if you become a bit more spirited, you will notice the car tends to push wide with lots of body lean. The steering is numb but still remains confidence inspiring. It is accurate with good on center characteristics keeping long drives easy.
At highway speeds the Elantra feels confident as well, with adequate ride quality. It does not have any wafting sensation through large dips nor does it crash through bumps and imperfections. It is a fairly good daily driver, but won’t exactly pique the interest of any driving enthusiasts like the Corolla does.
The powertrain is where the spotlight needs to shine, as this is the first time a hybrid powertrain is offered in the Elantra. The system pairs Hyundai’s Smartstream 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection engine with a 32-kW electric motor to deliver best in class efficiency. The combined output of the engine is 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque.
The engine is paired to a six-speed dual clutch transmission tuned to maximize hybrid efficiency. Hyundai claims you can achieve 955 kilometers of range per tank with fuel economy ratings of 4.4L/100km combined, 4.5L/100km city and 4.2L/100km highway. Real work results were on the button with our average during the week sitting right at 4.5L/100km.
The engine and transmission tuning is also impressive exhibiting good driving dynamics. One of the challenges of a hybrid drivetrain is maintaining a smooth and refined crossover from electric to gas. The Elantra does great with a smooth transition and refined gas engine. The Elantra really benefits from the electric motor’s instant torque with excellent response off the line.
However, the driving experience is held back by the regenerative brakes which are hard to modulate and have a mind of their own. Uncontrolled lurches when coming to a stop is common, and we’re not sure if it’s a problem with this specific tester or the characteristic of the car overall. The Elantra would be pretty great dynamically if not for the brakes.
Safety is another area where Hyundai backs up their forward ambitions in the Elantra. Hyundai’s SmartSense gives the Elantra a wide range of safety features. This includes adaptive cruise with stop and go, lane following assist and lane keeping assist. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision avoidance give the driver a safety net. Hyundai doesn’t hold back in giving their cars all the bells and whistles, and the Elantra is no exception.
The Elantra Hybrid starts at $24,699 for the Preferred trim, and our tester is the Ultimate priced at $26,999. Most of the positive features are only found in this trim such as leather seating, adaptive cruise and power moonroof. The price difference is marginal compared to the Toyota Corolla Hybrid at $27,090. The Corolla has more enthusiastic handling and bettering interior materials, however the Elantra has a smoother powertrain and a dual clutch gearbox instead of a CVT. Picking between the two is a tough as each have their own merits.
The 2021 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is the brand’s first attempt at electrifying this car. The package is compelling for those who value feature packed vehicles with the latest technology. With all the sharp edges and aggressive lines, there is some rounding off that is needed to make this a solid competitor to the Corolla. The Elantra will continue to be a must try option but the question is whether it is well rounded enough to steal sales from Toyota.