As Hyundai grows from strength to strength, the newly updated 2019 Hyundai Elantra continues the trend with appealing styling backed by decent performance, impressive economy, loads of features, and high levels of comfort. With updated styling inside and out and new tech to boot, the 2019 Elantra offers strong competition in the compact sedan segment that includes the Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla amongst others. Priced between $17,100 and $24,400 it has a cheaper entry point than most rivals in the segment as well. The Elantra offers three engine choices with outputs ranging from the 128-horsepower 1.4T in the Eco model to 201 hp in the 1.6T Elantra Sport, mated to a choice of three gearboxes, a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic, and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
|SE||2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual, 6-Speed Automatic||Front Wheel Drive||$16,668||$17,200|
|SEL||2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Automatic||Front Wheel Drive||$18,842||$19,500|
|Value Edition||2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Automatic||Front Wheel Drive||$19,787||$20,500|
|ECO||1.4-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||7-Speed Automatic||Front Wheel Drive||$20,307||$21,050|
|Sport||1.6-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas||6-Speed Manual, 7-Speed Automatic||Front Wheel Drive||$21,658||$22,600|
by Roger Biermann
As Hyundai looks to strengthen its proposition in the compact sedan segment, the 2019 Elantra has been overhauled inside and out to better combat the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic. With a choice of three engines, two of them turbocharged, three gearboxes, and six trims, there’s a broad range of options for the discerning buyer. Throwing in an extensive options list and a great entry price of $17,100 - below many rivals - sets the Elantra in good stead to sell en masse, while higher trims offer high value for money. Comfort ranks high on the Elantra’s priority list, as the brand continues to offer premium quality at an affordable price.
The major changes for the 2019 model year Elantra are immediately noticeable with a heavily redesigned exterior. The triangular chisel-like headlights feature outboard turn signal indicators and lead into a logo bar across the top of a low-mounted, wide revision of Hyundai’s hexagonal grille. The Sport model gets a unique, aggressively styled version of the hexagon grille. The grille is flanked by a sculpted bumper housing triangular fog lights. Meanwhile, the hood has been substantially remodeled as well with clamshell styling and light sculpting.
The base SE trim features 15-inch steel wheels while the Eco trims features 15-inch alloys shod in narrow low-drag tires. Higher trims get 16-inch alloys in varying designs with sporty 17-inch alloys limited to the Sport model. A sloping roofline gives the Elantra a coupe-like look leading to a redesigned rear end.
The short deck lid has been restyled with a ducktail design, beneath which newly designed taillights slope downwards towards the center of the trunk where the Hyundai logo and bold Elantra lettering stand proud. The license plate has been relocated to the lower rear bumper, within a broad, blacked out band that gives the rear a lower, wider stance. Lower down, some models receive a body-colored aerodynamic splitter.
The 2019 Elantra is available in six standard colors across the range, White, Silver, Gray, Lakeside Blue, Red, and Black. The Sport model, in addition to getting larger wheels and a honeycomb grille, gets a unique paint color, dropping Lakeside Blue from the color palette in favor of Intense Blue.
Three engines are available in various trims of the Hyundai Elantra. The base engine is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder equipped to the SE, SEL, Value Edition, and Limited models, with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. All models are front-wheel drive, with the gearbox on the base SE being a six-speed manual, with an optional six-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic being optional on the SE and standard on the SEL, Value, and Limited trims. It’s a dull engine that provides lackluster performance taking nearly 10 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. The manual gearbox on the SE is decently enjoyable and fun to row through the gears with and is marginally quicker than the dull six-speed automatic equipped to the other trims. When mated to the manual, the 2.0-liter engine generates economy estimates of a combined 29 mpg, with the automatic increasing that to 33 mpg. The 14.0-gallon fuel tank means with the more efficient auto ‘box driver’s can expect up to 462 miles per tank.
A second engine option, equipped to the Eco trim, is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 128 hp on tap and increased torque of 156 lb-ft. The Eco trim forgoes the six-speed automatic in favor of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as the only gearbox option in the search for extra mpg. It works, and the low displacement, turbocharged motor combines with the dual-clutch gearbox and low-drag wheels to yield consumption claims of 32/40/35 mpg city/highway/combined and a range of 490 miles on a tank of mixed driving. Despite the power deficit, the additional torque from the turbocharged motor makes the Eco’s engine far more usable and easier to live with. The dual-clutch automatic, while more efficient, can be clunky at low speeds, which makes traffic and navigating parking lots a frustrating time.
The third engine option is exclusive to the Sport model, which finds its front wheels driven by a 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder generating peak outputs of 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. By default, a six-speed manual is equipped to row your own gears, but a seven-speed dual-clutch SHIFTRONIC automatic is available as well. The Sport’s engine is by far the most potent, but it suffers from a fair amount of turbo lag and doesn’t respond as quickly to inputs. It’s immeasurably better with the manual gearbox that lends it some sporting credentials and offers the user bundles of joy, not forgetting the dual-clutch’s troubles with smoothness at low speeds. Understandably, as a performance-focused motor, there are some concessions made in terms of fuel economy, with the manual-equipped Sport model achieving estimates of 22/30/25 mpg and the dual-clutch automatic-equipped version improving these figures with estimates of 26/33/29 mpg, giving the automatic a similar 462 mile range on a tank of gas.
Without a turbo to aid torque, the base motor is somewhat gutless. The turbo offerings improve the drive substantially, but neither of them is a truly inspiring motor. We would recommend avoiding the base 2.0 as much as possible, and if you’re looking at the Sport, it’s better when equipped with the manual transmission.
The Hyundai Elantra sits in a competitive segment, and as such the South Korean brand is doing as much as it can to give the Elantra an advantage. As a result, there’s huge value for money offerings inside the Elantra’s cabin.
The 2019 Elantra will seat five occupants, with the rear of the cabin spacious enough to offer most adults good amounts of legroom to stretch out. The sloping roofline cuts into the headroom a little and the accompanying door cutouts mean rear passengers will need to duck to get in and out. The front of the cabin offers loads of head and leg room for the driver and front passenger, but ingress and egress can be a little tricky due to the short door apertures. Hyundai counters that with low door sills that are narrow and easy to cross, but taller adults may still find it difficult climbing in and out of both the front and rear of the cabin.
Once inside, the driver’s seat offers a wide array of adjustment, adjusting in height to grant even the shortest of drivers a comfortable view of the road ahead. The seat also has plenty of forward and aft adjustment to get comfortable. The driver's perch provides a good balance of soft and firm padding, ensuring both support and long-distance comfort. There’s not much lateral support though, so under cornering, you can feel like you're falling out of the seats. The sports seats on the Sport trim remedy this somewhat. Lumbar support is adjustable, but not repositionable, so drivers that don’t fit the standard proportions may find it a little out of place.
There’s a commanding view from the driver’s seat, with the front pillars and side mirrors positioned well to avoid impeding forward visibility. Meanwhile, the side-windows are drawn back far and the sloping roof pillars give an impression of being slimmer than they are, reducing the blind spots in the process. Rearward visibility is unobstructed with a large rear windscreen aperture. Just to cover all bases, a rearview camera and rear cross traffic alert will have your back when reversing out of spots with limited visibility.
Cloth seating comes standard with the exception of the Sport and Limited models that get leather surfaces. Meanwhile, all models from the Value Edition upwards get heated front seats, cruise control and steering mounted audio controls. As for infotainment, Hyundai leads the pack with standard Bluetooth hands-free and USB and auxiliary inputs across the board, and voice recognition on SEL trims and higher. Dual-charging USB ports are only available from the Eco trim onwards.
The base SE model gets a five-inch color touchscreen with six speakers and AM/FM/MP3 capability, with all other models boasting a standard seven-inch screen with SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio, and full Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality. An optional eight-inch system is available for Sport and Limited models. Optional on the Sport and standard on the Limited model is an Infinity premium audio system with eight speakers including a subwoofer.
Cargo space is a premium feature for the Hyundai Elantra, providing more than most in class. Families will find plenty of space for a weekend away or weekly grocery shopping with 14.4 cubic feet. It’s not the biggest trunk, but it is bigger than class average and the loading aperture is broad and the trunk lid opens high. The trunk space is largely square, though it tapers slightly towards the rear seatbacks. The rear seatback folds in a 60/40 split, with latches that are easy to reach and use from within the trunk, but once the release has been pulled, the seats need to be manually forced forward from within the cabin.
The rest of the cabin provides numerous storage opportunities, with large bins beneath the center armrest, decently sized door pockets that can fit a standard water bottle, and four cupholders, two front and two rear, though none of them feature an anti-tip design.
Compact cars are sometimes hit and miss in terms of comfort with concessions made to suspension components in an effort to meet budget constraints. The Elantra doesn’t suffer from a comfort perspective with a suspension setup on the softer side for the segment. Even sharper impacts like potholes are sufficiently softened without things getting too mushy or bouncy in the recovery phase after impact. It remains composed on bumpy road surfaces and little of the road imperfections permeate the ride comfort.
Noise insulation is decent within the cabin, with road noise particularly well isolated at city-speeds. At highway speeds, however, there is some wind noise, but the cabin is quieter than most compact cars.
Hyundai has equipped the Elantra with decent driving dynamics in spite of the outright comfort bias. The brakes are easy to modulate with a decent amount of feel and feedback, but they aren’t performance brakes and offer fairly middle of the road braking performance. With electric power-assisted steering, there’s good weighting to the wheel and steering inputs are met with quick responses and good turn in. But the electric power-assistance also means there’s not much feedback. It’s a well-tuned system with good, natural weighting, but in Sport mode the steering becomes a little too heavy.
The Hyundai Elantra doesn’t try to be sporty though - with the exception of the Sport trim - and for the most part handles in a comfortable manner with some body roll. It feels composed around corners and is unfazed by camber changes or mid-corner bumps, but you won’t be found pushing the limits of the chassis due to the low-grip tires equipped on most models.
While some aspects of the interior seem to be crafted from cheaper plastics, everything seems well screwed together and devoid of rattles, even on poorer road surfaces.
J.D. Power and Associates gave the 2019 Elantra a predicted reliability rating of 4 out of 5, scoring it better than the industry average of 3 out of 5, which was the score achieved by segment rival, the Honda Civic, while it matches the 4 stars achieved by the Toyota Corolla.
But a huge credit in the Elantra’s favor is the class-leading warranty on offer. A general warranty of 5-years/60,000-miles is decent, but the powertrain warranty inspires confidence with coverage for 10-years/100,000-miles. Notably, though, there is no complimentary scheduled maintenance cover for the Elantra.
There have been zero recalls for the 2019 Hyundai Elantra.
For 2019, the Hyundai Elantra is available in six trim levels. The base SE model features the 147-horsepower 2.0-liter motor and comes equipped with a standard six-speed manual with an option to upgrade to a six-speed automatic. The SE is basically equipped, with 15-inch steel wheels, rear drum brakes, power mirrors, a rearview camera, height-adjustable front seats, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a five-inch touchscreen. When equipped with the automatic gearbox the SE also features cruise control. The base MSRP for the Elantra SE is $17,100.
From the $19,400 SEL onwards, the Elantra starts to become better equipped with standard features including the six-speed automatic gearbox, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, automatic headlights, and heated side mirrors. The SEL also gets the upgraded seven-inch infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, and satellite radio. It also boasts a host of driver safety aids such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and a drowsy driver alert system.
The Value Edition adds LED daytime running lights, door-handle approach lights, a power sunroof, keyless entry with push-button start and a hands-free trunk lid, while inside you’ll get heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift-lever, rear-seat cupholders, and sun visor extensions. Blue Link Connected Car Services are also included, featuring remote start, remote climate control, and remote locking functionality via a mobile app. The Value Edition is priced at an MSRP of $20,400 and as its name suggests offers immense value for money.
The Eco model represents a pricejump of just $550 from the Value Edition, but offers a vastly different package. For starters, it gets the efficient turbocharged 1.4-liter motor with 128 hp, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It also gets aerodynamic 15-inch alloy wheels shod in low rolling resistance rubber for improved economy. It’s otherwise equipped similarly to the Value Edition, but with the addition of dual USB ports and with the exclusion of the sunroof. This is our pick of the lot, as the economy benefits quickly cancel out the price difference and the engine is vastly superior to the 2.0-liter in most other trims.
The Limited trim line reverts back to the 2.0-liter motor and six-speed automatic drivetrain combination, but boasts upgrades like the 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, automatic high beams, leather upholstery, power adjustment for the driver’s seat, a sliding armrest, adjustable rear headrests, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a wireless charging pad and an eight-speaker premium Infinity sound system. Buyers can also equip the Limited with the 8-inch touchscreen, navigation system, sunroof, driver seat memory function, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and Safe Exit Assist which prevents the opening of doors into the path of traffic. The Limited model is priced from $22,600.
Matching the Limited for price, the Sport model gets a 1.6-liter turbo engine with 201 hp and a manual six-speed as standard, though a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available. It features an aggressive grille, 18-inch wheels with grippier tires, bigger brakes, and chrome exterior accents, while beneath the sheet metal it gets revised rear suspension with a firmer state of tune. It’s equipped similarly to the Limited, but gets the sunroof as standard, and features sports seats with extra bolstering, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, unique gauge cluster, and a black headliner. An optional Sport Ultimate package equips the eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, Infinity stereo system, dual-zone climate, and Blue Link Connected Car Services.
In many aspects, the Elantra is a fairly middle of the road compact sedan, doing little exceptionally well compared to rivals. But it is stylish, spacious, practical, and loaded with features provided you ignore the entry-level Elantra SE. What the Elantra does better than most is provide utmost comfort and relaxation for its occupants. In our experience, it’s best to avoid the 2.0-liter NA engine altogether, no matter how tempting some of the trims might seem. The Eco trim strikes a fine balance between equipment levels and a decent engine offering, which makes it our pick. While the Sport model offers a firmer suspension setup and the option of a decent manual gearbox, if you’re looking for a sporty offering in this segment, you’re better off heading to a Honda dealer to look at the Civic Si.