WASHINGTON -- It seems I've been driving the heavy hitters in the compact sedan market and now Hyundai adds a stylish sedan to the mix: The 2014 Hyundai Elantra.
The Elantra was redesigned last year and for 2014 they tweaked it a little more with a quieter cabin and a sport trim level with more power.
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra Limited is now a very serious contender in the compact sedan market with a starting price of around $17,000. The takeaway here: a good looking sedan doesn't need to break the bank.
The base Hyundai Elantra gives drivers the option of manual transmission with several trim levels. I recently spent a week with the top-of-the-line Limited trim level which starts at $21,650 and comes nicely equipped with heated leather seats for the front and back seats, leather steering wheel and shift knob and heated outside mirrors.
My test car came with the $2,750 technology package, which includes navigation with a seven-inch screen that includes a rear-view camera. Also, included in the package is a power tilt sunroof and push button start which really helps put this Hyundai into its own class in the compact sedan market.
What has really changed in the last few years with the Hyundai Elantra is the styling. It has a more modern look in line with the bigger Sonata, one of the better-looking mid-size sedans on the market. It looks more stylish than the last Elantra and with curves not known to most compact car drivers.
Another neat touch is the LED accent lights that run under the headlights. They look really good on this car and give the Elantra Limited class.
There was plenty of room up front and plenty of leg room in the back, but anyone taller than six feet might find the rear headroom tight. The trunk was very good for a compact sedan and it's ready for the family trip.
The interior was taken very seriously by Hyundai and given a lot of attention. The materials are very good for a compact sedan. There are interesting shapes and the dash flows into the seven-inch screen that sticks out from the dash with easy-to-use, large buttons to control all that's needed. I found the NAV straightforward and the phone syncing pretty quick and easy.
Driving the Hyundai Elantra Limited is very nice with a comfortable driving position and good visibility. The Limited trim level only comes with a six-speed automatic that's smooth shifting and is really looking to shift to higher gear for better fuel economy. The Elantra is a solid drive. It handles most bumps well, only the larger ones seem to upset the car, but just a little. The 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine manages 145hp but it doesn't seem like it's going to get into trouble with quick acceleration. I would suggest looking at the Sport trim level with over 170 hp to help satisfy your horse power needs.
The one thing people expect from a compact sedan is fuel economy. The Elantra Limited is rated 27mpg city and 37mpg highway and I managed 29.1mpg over 188 miles in a lot of city driving and stop-and-go on the highway. Given normal traffic without storms to cause delays, the Elantra would have hit the 31mpg combined that's on the sticker. Also, the Elantra gets an overall five-star Government Safety Rating.
Even fully loaded and with some options that others don't offer, the Elantra Limited is still a value buy and comes with a 10-year power train warranty.
Editor's note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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