Review: 2017 Hyundai Elantra

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra has some big shoes to fill in the small sedan space. Regularly duking it out with the Mazda Mazda3, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic for the top spot on the list of Canada's best-selling cars, redesigning this icon of affordable commuting presented something of a risk for the Korean brand.

The challenge? To stay true to the successful combination of a feature-rich model lineup, inexpensive pricing, and eye-catching styling while simultaneously updating the Elantra's drivetrain and list of available technologies. It was a task that Hyundai took very seriously, and it's clear that despite its turn towards the more conservative design language that has become the new standard for the automaker, the revised Elantra has surpassed its predecessor in nearly every important measure.

It all starts with the ride. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra has seen its chassis significantly reworked, which includes not just the oily bits underneath but also the unibody that connects everything together. Increased use of high strength steel - a nice tie-up with Hyundai's in-house metal works - translates into greater rigidity throughout the entire vehicle, which in turn helps reduce vibration and give the suspension system a stronger foundation. In addition to the Elantra's enhanced composure in almost every driving situation, the car is remarkably quiet inside, which is a testament not just to its stiffer platform but also a renewed focus on sound deadening throughout the cabin.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra's shape remains familiar, albeit with a few changes that give it a distinct personality when compared against the model it replaces. The ultra-short deck lid at the back gives the car an almost hatchback feel, while modest growth in almost every dimension - but especially width - adds to its presence out on the road. Up front, Hyundai has added LED running lights to the mix, but much more noticeable is the gaping trapezoidal grille opening that is framed by the more aggressive bumper.

This widemouth look is the only real attention-grabbing device employed by the Elantra's sheet metal, as the expressive curves that had been sculpted into the profile and rear bumper of the previous generation car have been smoothed over in favour of a more brand-friendly, and somewhat homogenous presentation. The Hyundai Elantra is still a handsome car, but it's a bit less distinctive than it used to be, and in that sense follows its larger Hyundai Sonata sibling down the same styling path.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra also happens to nudge up against the Sonata when it comes to interior space. Officially, if you're going by the numbers the 'compact' Hyundai Elantra actually qualifies as a mid-size car thanks to its generous interior volume. Cabin size hasn't changed much for 2017, but Hyundai's design team have done a better job of managing what is available, particularly in the rear quarters where riders benefit from increased comfort at the expense of a small amount of trunk space as well as a smidge of front row leg room. If we had to pin a word on the Hyundai Elantra's passenger compartment, that word would be 'generous,' which places it in good standing when compared against rivals like the Corolla and the Mazda3.

Eager to tap into compact car customer cravings for increasingly extensive feature-sets, Hyundai has gifted the Elantra with a longer list of equipment than what was available in past models. A 7-inch touchscreen is available to handle infotainment management starting at the mid-tier GL trim, while Limited and Ultimate models step up to a new 8-inch display. All versions of the Elantra offer heated front seats, air conditioning, and a driver information screen, while climbing the ladder of available models adds niceties such as automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, and heated rear seats.  Active safety equipment such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and intervention, and a forward collision warning system with automatic braking also make their first appearance in the Elantra for 2017.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

A pair of new drivetrains inhabit the 2017 Hyundai Elantra's engine bay (although not at the same time, of course). Stepping in for last year's 1.8-litre 4-cylinder is a new 2.0-litre unit that produces almost exactly the same amount of power: 147 horses and 132 lb-ft of torque. An Eco model offering a 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo good for 128 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque will eventually make its way into the line-up as well. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic for the larger mill, and a seven-speed dual-clutch autobox for the smaller one.  As of this writing, fuel efficiency figures are only available for the 2.0, which checks in at 8.3 L/100 km city and 6.4 L/100 km highway. Out on the road, the engine offers adequate power, even if it does feel (and sound) a little rushed from time to time (particularly when kicking down a gear or two to pass).

Hyundai has managed to squeeze all of these improvements into the redesigned 2017 Elantra without significantly boosting the window sticker. The base Elantra L starts at an MSRP of $15,999, which is roughly $300 more than what the entry-level version of the sedan would have cost you the year before. The gap widens at the upper tier of the car's pricing structure, but not by much, with only the new Ultimate edition of the car raising eyebrows with its near-$29k ask (a full $3k above 2016's range-topping Limited).

In the race to the top, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra has barely paused to catch its breath, but in the short span it took to imbue its design with fresh concepts and new ideas, it managed to at the very least maintain the distance between it and the rest of its compact competitors in the battle for the affections of Canadian buyers. The 2016 Elantra was a good car, but the 2017 is better still, a logical progression that has become standard operating procedure for Hyundai as it steadily sucks market-share away from the Japanese automakers that have dominated the small car segment for so long.

2017 Hyundai Elantra

 

ENGINE

2.0-litre 4-cylinder / 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo

OUTPUT

147 hp / 132 lb-ft & 128 hp / 156 lb-ft

TRANSMISSION

6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic / 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

0-100 KMH

8.1 seconds

TOP SPEED

N/A

FUEL ECONOMY

8.3 L/100 km city / 6.4  L/100 km highway

WEIGHT

1,255 kilograms (2,761 lbs)

SEATING CAPACITY

5

CARGO VOLUME

407 litres (14.3 cubic feet)

BASE PRICE

$15,799

AS-TESTED PRICE

$22,699 (GLS)

 

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