By Peter Perrotta
If you think South Korean auto makers Kia and Hyundai put out inferior products to the big three Japanese importers – Honda, Toyota and Nissan – think again.
Nothing could be further from the truth these days.
In fact, in some head-to-head model comparisons, Kia and Hyundai stand out head and shoulders above their Big Three competitors.
However, while Kia and Hyundai have made believers out of quite a few people, there still remain some skeptics who hold on to the perception that the likes of Honda and Toyota produce a superior product.
A good example of that is the crowded compact sedan segment where Hyundai’s Elantra has to go head to head with some very stiff competition – the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla and even the Mazda 3.
For 2021, the folks at Hyundai went back to the drawing board on the design of the Elantra and came up with some bold new styling strokes, inside and out, for that model so it could keep up with the Joneses in this crowded field.
I recently jumped behind the wheel of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra Limited for one week to see what this newly redesigned sedan has to offer.
Hyundai served up a clean sheet redesign on the 2021 Elantra, offering up modern and more aggressive and sporty exterior looks and interior upgrades as well.
The new Elantra features a longer wheelbase, wider stance and lower roofline as well.
Under the hood, the 2021 Elantra offers three different engines: the standard 2.0 liter, four
cylinder, 147 horsepower; a hybrid model with a 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine and an electric motor that gets 139 horse and an N-line model featuring a turbo charged 1.6 liter, four cylinder engine.
The Elantra Limited I drove for one week was equipped with the standard 2.0 liter, four cylinder engine. It carries a base sticker price of $25,450.
My tester had a bottom line sticker price of $26,600 after adding in $155 for carpeted mats and $995 for destination and delivery.
First off, the newly redesigned Elantra is a looker. I think the new design serves it well and it comes off looking – inside and out – like a much more expensive vehicle.
That being said, the lower roofline does make this Elantra sit low to the ground. For a
somewhat creaky 65-year-old like me, the lower stance does make it a little bit trickier to get in and out of. But once you are settled into the cockpit there is plenty of leg and head room to make it comfortable.
This new Elantra has a very sound and solid feel to it when you drive it. It takes tight curves and bends well and you can drive it aggressively through those tight situations without feeling insecure about its stability.
Moreover, you can take this Elantra up to high speeds on the highway without feeling unsafe. It maintains its stability at high speed.
The Elantra has a driving mode selector button on the center console. I found myself using the sport mode most often as it gave it a peppy ride, especially when accelerating.
In the regular driving mode, the Elantra is a bit sluggish, especially when trying to accelerate quickly.
The EPA fuel consumption rating on the new Elantra comes in at 35 miles per gallon overall, with 31 mpg in city driving and 41 mpg on the highway.
The EPA also estimates the annual fuel costs for the Elantra would come in at $1,150 as it uses 2.9 gallons of gas per every 100 miles you drive it.
The newly redesigned Elantra has not been safety crash test rated by the government yet.
“While some manufacturers no longer see the value in the car side of the business, we are
doubling down by offering an all-new model with both gas and hybrid powertrains,” said Jose Munoz, president and CEO, Hyundai North America.
“We have sold more than 3.4 million Elantras here in the United States and more than 13.8 million worldwide and the new, captivating look is going to bring excitement to a whole new generation of buyers,” Munoz said.
The folks at Car and Driver were so excited about the new look Elantra that they put it on their Editor’s Choice list.
Car and Driver handed out high marks for the Elantra’s bold exterior styling and compelling
value. Car and Driver gave low marks for the Elantra’s sluggish acceleration.
Overall, Car and Driver says they like its “wild new styling.
“Elantra wows with its features, performance and value,” they said.
If you are looking for a solid vehicle in the compact sedan segment, you would have to put this new Elantra in the running for serious consideration.
Personally, I think it is a superior car to the Toyota Corolla. I think it is as good as a Honda Civic or even a Mazda 3, but at the end of the day it will come down to a matter of personal choice.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. He may be contacted at