Sometime we will have to stop explaining how it’s a really good car in spite of being a Hyundai, and change that over to it’s a really good car because it’s a Hyundai. And the reason we’ll have to do that is because of cars like the 2015 Hyundai Elantra. Simply put, our test Elantra received more unsolicited compliments, from both people who only saw the car from the outside as well as those who rode inside. And, um, us, too. The Elantra is just that good.
And it still has that Hyundai stuff- for-the-money value equation Hyundai has had from when first arrival in the U.S.
The Elantra comes in three basic body shapes, including a two-door coupe, a five-door hatchback, and our test vehicle, the Hyundai Elantra four-door sedan. With the sedan, there are three trim levels, the base SE, with a starting price of S17, 250. Add another $1,000 for the optional six-speed automatic transmission. Among other features, the SE includes cruise control, 60/40 fold-down rear seats, and AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 audio system with 6 speakers. Hyundai obviously knows its younger, less affluent market for this car needs its tunes, so make it the audio standard.
The Elantra SE with the automatic transmission (but not the manual) can add the Popular Equipment package, which adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rearview camera and 4.3-inch audio control touch screen, Bluetooth, automatic headlamps and more. The SE can be taken further with the Style Package, which includes a sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, projector headlamps with LED accents, and more. The Popular Equipment group adds $900; it costs another $750 to add Style. A Bongiovi package adds tech the SE audio, and the SE also has remote start optional; both are available for $50 each. All told, the SE can be pushed up to a very reasonable $22,500.
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra then splits into two trim levels, the Sport at $21,600, and the Limited at $21,700. The Sport comes with a manual transmission standard and the six-speed automatic for another $1,000 more. The Limited comes with the automatic as standard equipment.
Both Sport and Limited come standard with leather seats—impressive at this price, that Hyundai thing again, though our car actually had cloth seats, though still heated—with a Tech Package adding $1,200 for a navigation system with a seven-inch screen, a 360-watt audio upgrade and Hyundai’s BlueLink telematics. The 2015 Hyundai Elantra Sport has power for the driver’s seat, projector headlights with LED accents, LED taillights, a black chrome grille and aluminum pedal and a lot more. A Sport Tech package includes a nav system with a seven-inch screen, 360-watt premium audio, BlueLink Telematics and BlueLink Connected Care. There are a slew of accessories from cargo nets to first aid kits, along with remote start and the Bongiovi audio thing. Going all out with options and accessories on the Elantra Sport brings the price to a $26,150 bottom line, destination included.
The 2015 Hyundai Elantra Limited can be optioned up with a more expansive package than the Sport’s bundle. The $2,400 Ultimate includes the nav system and 360-watt audio, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with a clean air ionizer and auto defogging, plus a sun roof and a proximity key with pushbutton start. The Elantra Limited comes with its own list of accessories, and all accounted for, this version of the Elantra checks in at $26,000.
What sets the Elantra Sport apart from the Limited (and the SE as well) is its 2.0-liter engine instead of a weak kneed 1.8-liter. The smaller engine is rated at 145 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque. The two-liter steps the numbers up to 177 horsepower (or 163 hp for PZEV emissions), with 154 lb-ft or torque (and 148 lb-ft for PZEV).
The Elantra Sport also has sportier suspension settings and 17-inch wheels (as does the Limited, though with different patterns) and 215/45R17 tires.
The result is handing that’s, reading our notes, “good for a compact sedan.” It’s complemented by a ride that’s still smooth and road noise is average for this class of car. Translate that as not the ultimate road car, but then the price isn’t ultimate either.
The interior designers likely came close to using up their drawing pencils making broad sweeping arcs. The center stack curves up from the center console, with a design line curving out organically from either side, arching along the front doors and on to the backs. The materials have a quality feel, with nothing bending where it’s not supposed to bend, and it’s soft where things ought to be soft. The controls are well laid out from both a design and ergonomic standpoint, with hard buttons on either side of the multi-information display to go with the touchscreen display.
We’ve said this before, Hyundai has one of the best navigation systems around, easy to program, with clear and complete graphics. Manufacturers of more expensive automobiles—and you know who you are—should ditch their audio control systems and navigation, swallow their pride and strike a deal with Hyundai. And if you think this applies to you, it probably does.
Speaking of controls, the buttons on the steering wheel are equally as well thought out, making use of all the available surfaces, but they’re out of the way when they’re not needed and easy to understand and use when they are.
The windshield is steeply inclined and the rear window is as well, resulting in a headbumping thing when getting in or out of front or back. The roof contours also limit headroom in back. Five-foot-ten is OK, but a couple of inches taller and there is a roof rubbing situation. Then too, the distance between the B-pillar and the rear seat is limited, and your size nines won’t fit through easily.