THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: A sophisticated, more conservative new look, improved ride and handling, slight fuel efficiency benefits.
- What’s Worst: Needs a little more oomph.
- What’s Interesting: Hyundai’s continual evolution of included features in what used to be an economy car category. Heated seats are now standard equipment.
THIS time it was getting personal.
With the lease on our 2012 Hyundai Elantra ending this summer, a springtime test drive of its potential successor, the all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra, seemed timely indeed.
The previous generation Elantra would be a hard act to follow, after its eye-catching design set a new dramatic precedent in the family sedan segment.
“Because that fifth generation Elantra won millions of fans,” designer Peter Schreyer once said, “and it ably demonstrated the optimism of Hyundai.”
Well, the brand remains pretty optimistic with the launch of the new sixth generation 2017 Elantra that has already gone on sale at dealers across Canada.
Inevitably, the “fluidic sculpture” styling of the past couldn’t really get any more radical.
So when the old and new models are parked side by side, it’s easy to see that the designers dialed back the styling impact of the new car.
It’s a more sophisticated, more grownup look with the new familial Hyundai hexagonal grille, straighter horizontal influences, a pulled-back windshield, narrower headlights, unique vertical LED daytime running lamps and softer, less delineated character lines.
And the new look works just fine, the exterior styling complemented by a new palette of colours including bold shades like Fiery Red, Phoenix Orange and our as-tested Marina Blue.
But of course, most of the changes are under the skin.
The Elantra starts with a lighter, stronger foundation, a “SUPERSTRUCTURE”, as Hyundai likes to capitalize it, with 53 per cent high-strength steel compared to 21 per cent in the previous model.
This results in 30 per cent stiffer torsional rigidity and increased bending strength, also enhanced by 40 times more structural adhesive application points, revised suspension geometry, and a Motor-Driven Power Steering system that instantly adjusts to changes in driving conditions.
The new 2017 Elantra rides on the same 2,700 mm wheelbase but it is marginally longer (+20 mm), wider (+25 mm and taller (+5 mm). And although Hyundai still treats the Elantra as a compact, it has technically grown enough to meet EPA mid-size measurements.
The uptick in size allows for a little more elbowroom, more shoulder room, and the interior layout has been adjusted, compromising a bit of front legroom for the sake for more passenger room in the second row. Trunk size is down slightly, probably due to the revised rear suspension, but at 407 litres, it is still roomy enough to swallow an assortment of bags and baggage.
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The cabin is comfortable and quiet with good ergonomics, added soft touch surfaces and an uptick in quality that brings the Elantra closer to Sonata levels of sophistication.
Under the hood is a brand new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine based on the Atkinson cycle, which tends to benefit fuel economy at a slight cost of engine torque, mitigated, Hyundai engineers assure us, by improved intake and valve timing modifications.
The new 2.0-litre is rated at 147 hp and 132 lb/ft of torque with a fuel economy rating of 8.3/6.4L/100km (city/hwy) compared to the previous 1.8-litre base engine that made 145hp and 130 lb/ft of torque with a fuel economy rating of 8.8/6.4L/100km (city/hwy).
Under real world test conditions in the 2017 Elantra Limited, I averaged 8.1L/100km (comb).
The 2017 Hyundai Elantra lineup comes in six trim choices including L ($15,999), LE ($18,499), GL ($20,349), GLS ($22,699), Limited ($26,249) and Ultimate ($28,799).
Okay, forget about the L with steel wheels, no A/C and a manual shifter, although you have to give Hyundai points because even the base car comes with 7 airbags, heated seats, ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Stability and Traction Control systems, heated power mirrors, keyless remote, six-way adjustable seats and USB/AUX ports.
All other trim levels upgrade to a standard six-speed automatic with a drive mode selector (Normal, Eco, Sport), along with graduated levels of content.
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A majority of Canadians will opt for the middle ground with the GL which this year appeals even more with a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, a 7.0-inch touch screen with Android Auto and rear view camera, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED side mirror signal repeaters, cruise, auto headlamps, a 3.5-inch TFT gauge display and satellite radio.
Which would probably suit me just fine, even though our Elantra Limited tester adds leather seats, 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, Rear Parking Assist and other goodies.
But, regardless of trim level choice, with new levels of refinement, new technologies and new features building on the better bones of an improved platform with upgraded ride, handling and NVH levels, the new 2017 Hyundai Elantra continues to offer dollar value for customers with impressive included content packages and a steady evolution of product quality.
And, yeah, it’s already on our shortlist.
Hyundai Elantra Limited 2017 at a glance
BODY STYLE: Compact sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic
ENGINE: DOHC 2-0-litre inline Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder with GDI (147 hp, 132 lb/ft)
CARGO: 407 litres
TOW RATING: Not recommended
FUEL ECONOMY: 8.3/6.4L/100km (city/hwy); as tested 8.1L/100km (comb).
PRICE: Elantra Limited $26,249