Overview & Reviews
Introduced in the early 1990s, the Hyundai Elantra didn't exactly get off to a good start, earning a well-deserved reputation for overall shoddiness and unreliability. But more than two decades later, the Elantra has become one of America's most popular small sedans. Take one for a spin and you'll likely be impressed with its smooth ride, roomy interior, high fuel economy and solid build quality. The Elantra also offers plenty of features for the money and long warranty coverage. While those long-ago Elantras are best forgotten, any new or used Elantra (that you'll realistically come across) is an excellent choice for a small car shopper.
Current Hyundai Elantra
The Hyundai Elantra sedan is offered three trims: SE, Limited and Sport. A coupe and Elantra GT four-door hatchback are also available and reviewed separately.
Standard SE feature highlights include alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod interface. An option package provides 16-inch (versus 15-inch) wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, a rearview camera and heated front seats. The Limited comes with all that as well as 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated rear seats and Blue Link telematics. The Sport includes the Limited's features minus the heated rear seats and Blue Link and adds a more powerful engine, a sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension and keyless ignition and entry. The Limited can be had with a larger 7-inch touchscreen display, dual-zone automatic climate control and a navigation system.
The SE and Limited trims are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 145 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the SE, while a six-speed automatic is optional. The Limited comes only with the automatic. The Elantra Sport has a 2.0-liter four that makes 173 hp. With the Sport, the manual transmission is standard, while the automatic is optional.
Slide inside the Elantra and you'll find a cabin that matches or betters most others in it class. A stylized center stack and controls lend some flair to the cabin, and the materials, while not best-in-class, offer a rich look. Ample headroom and a smaller-diameter steering wheel contribute to the interior's spaciousness.
On the road, the 1.8-liter engine has decent punch and the automatic transmission provides smooth, well-timed shifts. This volume-selling powertrain should be fine for the majority of drivers. The added punch provided by the Sport's bigger engine should be appreciated by those willing to sacrifice a few mpg in favor of some added oomph. A compliant ride and a quiet cabin make the Elantra a comfortable choice for daily driver and road trip duty alike. The only significant downside to this Elantra is a lack of rear headroom compared to what's available from some other top small sedans.
Used Hyundai Elantra Models
The current Hyundai Elantra represents the fifth generation, which was introduced for the 2011 model year. Apart from lacking some slight styling tweaks, upgraded touchscreen displays, added sound insulation and the Sport trim level, these Elantras are otherwise identical to the current version.
The fourth-generation Elantra ran from 2007-'10. Having established the Elantra as a legitimate contender in the compact segment with its previous-generation car, Hyundai updated the Elantra's styling, improved its handling and ride quality, and revamped the interior to near-premium levels.
Two main trim levels were available: GLS and SE. The GLS came reasonably well equipped, though it lacked stability and traction control. Those came standard on the SE after 2007. The SE also had more features and a sport-tuned suspension. In your used-car search, you might also encounter the top-line Elantra Limited ('07 only) and the Elantra Blue, which was an entry-level model offered for 2010 only.
Fourth-generation Elantras came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 138 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque. The transmission was either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Cars sold in California-emissions states could have cleaner tailpipe emissions (PZEV) but were rated for 132 hp.
Changes were minimal for this car. For 2009, the Elantra received enhanced suspension and steering tuning, along with new interior instrument and radio displays. A USB/iPod audio jack also became available. But in general, we were very impressed by this car and praised its roomy and comfortable interior, agreeable ride quality and value for the dollar.
The third-generation Elantra was produced from model years 2001-'06 and represented a considerable step up from the earlier cars. The sedan was bigger inside and out, and revised sheet metal gave it a more upscale look. Reliability and overall quality were also much improved. The standard features list was generous for the car's price, and included amenities like air-conditioning, full power accessories, side airbags, 15-inch wheels and an AM/FM cassette player. The 2.0-liter engine generated 135 hp (138 after 2003) and was mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
An Elantra hatchback, the Elantra GT, was also offered starting in 2002 and came with additional standard features, including leather seats and a CD player. Initially, the sedan was available only in base GLS trim, but by 2003, Elantra sedans could be purchased in two trims -- GLS and the top-of-the-line GT. Although it still lacked the refinement of segment leaders like the Honda Civic, the third-generation Hyundai Elantra shone as a solid choice for buyers seeking maximum value for their money.
One would probably do best by avoiding the second-generation Elantra – built from model years 1996-2000 -- though it did at least take a turn for the better from the forgettable original. The car got a welcome boost in power with the addition of a new engine, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder capable of 130 hp and 122 lb-ft of torque. Airbags were added to the safety features list, and a wagon body style was also offered. The Elantra's engine was upgraded yet again in model year 1999, to a larger 2.0-liter. Overall, the second-gen Elantra represented a decent buy in the economy car segment. It wasn't as polished as the offerings from Honda, Nissan or Toyota, but it was well-equipped and fun to drive.
The first-generation Elantra was produced from model years 1992-'95; during this period, Hyundai's hauler was available as a sedan only. Sadly, the car's build quality and reliability reflected its bargain-basement price. Elantras from this era were notorious for being sloppy in most of the areas that matter. They were none too quick either, as all models were motivated by a 1.6-liter inline-4 good for 113 hp and 102 lb-ft of torque.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 2,599.00
Engine replaced at 4YO 35K Miles - 2012 Hyundai Elantra
By Jennifer - January 24 - 10:21 am
Was very excited to have the heated seats and ipod cable for my first car, when I was 25 yrs old female. It has been downhill ever since. Noticeably different handling and seat comfort after 3 years and new tires didn't really help. Most maintenance has been covered by warranty, but this does not seem realistic for Chicago road/highway driving: replaced rear shock absorber after 2 years, cleaned fuel injectors ($200 out of pocket) due to some additive required for this elantra engine (?), and now engine replaced after 4 years (only 35K miles!). Happy that Hyundai is replacing the engine (currently in-progress, so not sure if just the short engine, or full engine with header) however had to wait a week for dealership to confirm the issue (was inconsistent grinding on start/shaking at idle approx. 10% of the time over the last 6 mos). Having a rental car in the city of Chicago for that long - worried about damaging the rental car with street parking in the middle of winter. Will be another 1-2weeks for engine to ship from LA by truck, and then install. Dealership has been great, we both win with this finding, however would have loved to avoid altogether in the first place. The hassle and nuisance are not worth the additional skin-deep features. Also there is still not an ipod cable compatible with Lightning. The Apple lightning cable has been out for years now, and Hyundai still sees no reason to manufacture usb > lightning so I can charge and listen to music through the console electronic system. Maybe should have purchased a sonata - for better build? Now looking to avoid Hyundai completely and will offload this car around 5 years 40K mi, too worried about future problems not worth it impacting my commute.
Great Car for Daughter College Bound - 2013 Hyundai Elantra
By Cory - January 20 - 5:58 pm
Get a 4 door. I bought a 2 door for my daughter because I thought it was "cool", found out 4 door better, even for her, dealer let me switch to a comparable 4 door. I have bought cars from this Used Car Dealer, now my friend, since 1989. He finds the cleanest, low mileage cars around. This 2013 Elantra had 9,500 miles when I bought 4 months ago. Now, under 11,000 miles. It has leather, seat warmers, blue tooth for phone, sunroof, great back seat leg room and huge trunk for my daughter's guitar, amp and equipment. I paid $13,800 for the car. Do not tell on me, but while test driving it on the Interstate, I punched it and the car went quickly to 120 miles per hour. It sips gas. I usually do not get extended warranties, but for a few bucks, I got a 100,000 mile, cover everything warranty and my daughter has to make one phone call if anything goes wrong. This should last her through college and beyond. I am very pleased. By the way, it has a snappy design that is an eye catcher. This is a great car.
Amazing Car. Tons of cool upgrades! - 2001 Hyundai Elantra
By Da-Mi-An - January 7 - 12:45 pm
I drive a 2001 Hyundai Elantra GLS. The car is fantastic on gas mileage and is rather cheap to fill up! I love how easy the steering is along with how fun it is to drive. My brakes work great. The interior is rather ugly as is in most Elantras the good part about that is they come with so many cool options for seats and dash kits that you can purchase to really make the car feel like your own. It is a great buy and I would recommend all of my friends and family to purchase one just so they can see how comfortable and smooth driving the elantra gls really is. I do plan on purchasing a newer one this year and turning mine into a rally car. So if you wanna race lets be in touch haha.
My Car Air Bags don't deploy - 2006 Hyundai Elantra
By Raul E. Garcia Sr - January 5 - 9:03 am
I was involved in an accident and the airbags did not deploy. I contacted the Dealer here in town (Mesquite TX) and they send me to the Manufacturer, did not fix my airbags. Manufacturer did not accept any responsibility and just said: contact your dealer. Never heard of them again. I have to drive my poor car, with no airbags, and the dealer won't listen to you. Don't buy Hyundai cars. They stink! No customer service, and they don't care if you are injured or not. Tires have to constantly be replaced, specially the right rear tire. And Power Steering pump went out at 35000 miles. no warranty cover. Ralph in Mesquite Texas
Stay Away from this hunk of Crap! - 2015 Hyundai Elantra
By Nik - December 9 - 6:51 pm
Chief complaint: the freaking (and I don't mean freaking) trunk goes thru spells where it just pops up whenever it wants. Seriously, I stood in the parking garage at work for 45 freaking minutes closing my trunk because it pops open every 3 minutes! I took it to the dealership and the guy from the service department told me that he was familiar with the problem because it happened to him when he drove a loaner vehicle, however, the techs weren't going to be able to diagnose and fix it unless they actually saw the trunk popping up with their own eyes! Are you freaking kidding me! Now I'm standing guard at my trunk because it keeps popping open and I live in a freaking apt complex! Next complaint: the alignment or something is off... You can't hold the damn car straight in one lane. No matter how straight and steady you hold the steering wheel, you still end up swerving and veering into someone else's lane. Additional complaint: the worst acceleration that I've ever experienced in a vehicle... good luck pulling a heel. Haha! You can mash the gas to the floor and you'll literally be going 10mph, but give it about 2-3 minutes it'll respond to you pushing the accelerator. Last complaint: Idk why, but the windows fog up like crazy! Myself and a coworker who has this same car discussed this... you literally need the defroster year-round...the windows just fog up... no talking or singing with the radio --the windows just fog up. This was a horrible purchase and I'm counting the days until I can trade it in. I purchased this car in March 2015 with 4 miles on it. Today it has 4,500 Miles exactly...and the freaking trunk won't close! Im seriously considering speaking with an attorney re: our local Lemon Law. No way a brand spanking new car should have these issues! Why am I outside, in the dark, closing my trunk every 3 minutes... at this very moment...
2007 Hyundai Elantra - 2007 Hyundai Elantra
By email@example.com - December 5 - 8:06 pm
I bought a 2007 Hyundai Elantra my car before that was a 1995 Isuzu Rodeo, so getting a bit old. The Hyundai so far in 2 months has been very reliable, great fuel economy as well. The tech is a little behind the current times, but it was made in 2007 so I wont be so critical on that aspect.
what a bargain! - 2013 Hyundai Elantra
By mik mastrian - November 28 - 11:47 pm
great buy for 14000
Disappoints - 2013 Hyundai Elantra
By Dan Yodet - November 27 - 3:07 pm
Bought the elantra 6 months ago. Car noise is significant. My chevy cobalt was much quieter. Have the rough idling when I come to a stop. This is a common issue. On the plus side I get good gas mileage and enjoy heated front seats. I will never purchase a Hyundai vehicle again.
PISSED! - 2011 Hyundai Elantra
By Ronald - November 27 - 12:38 am
I bought the 2011 Elantra new. Hyundai avertized 39mpg on the road, the best was 34mpg. I fought with the deal about one year. Then it appears they were taken to court for that, and now each year I take it in to slow them my miles I have, and then I get a gift card for $80-100. Next the car started locking in gear, the towed it in and fixed that problem. This was followed by having transmission problems, that finally they put another TRANS (79, 000 miles) in it (only after a number of trips back to the dealer. After that I had to take it in for something on a recall. Then around 95,000 it started having difficulty shifting into third gear. This problem came and went. It ALWAYS seemed to improve as I was about to take it into the shop. This time it continue non stop for about a week so I took it in. Well they said I need the SECOND NEW TRANS. But now I was over bought warranties. They said the original warranty is for 100,000 and I'm at 104,000, so I'm over that, and the warrenty for the replacement TRANS that I got a 79,000, is only good for 12,000. So that means I 4,000 over origin warrenty, and 25,000 over warrenty for the second TRANS. Now they want me to pay $2,900 for the second TRANS! Well, I was told this the day before thanksgiving, I've had time to calm down, so I go back tomorrow I speak with someone else. I guess if they don't cover the cost, then I begin a campaign of writing on these forums/blogs, etc. Letting people know of my experiences. This is my 5th Hyundai, and if they don't do the right thing and put a new TRANS in at NO COST to me...it will be the last HYUNDAI I EVER PURCHASE! I also have concerns about the paint chipping and the floor mats wearing out! If anyone can help please respond here, [contact info removed].
Oh, the things they don't tell you! - 2015 Hyundai Elantra
By John - November 25 - 2:28 pm
I've had this car for about 6 months and it's ok, but there are a few things that will make it the last Hyundai I'll buy. First, the gas mileage. I do a lot of highway driving for work and so far the best I've gotten is 33.2 mpg. I drive around 70 in a 65 (any closer to 65 and I'd get run off the road) and I've found that in order for me to get better gas mileage I have to drive closer to 80. I don't get it. There seem's to be something wrong with the gearing for this to occur, or maybe electronics, but this makes no sense. Secondly, this so called "10 year, 100,000 mile warranty" that Hyundai pushes was attempted to be added by the salesman or sales manager to my contract. I was told it came with the car, but what I wasn't told was it was going to cast me an additional $6K!! This was after they told me the honor Truecar estimates and then tried to add $5K to the price of the car. (They said it had extras not on the estimate until I showed them the VIN number on the estimate was the same as the car on the contract.) After 2+ hours of getting a tad hot under the collar I got the price without the bogus warranty. Then I got home and found out there was no spare. Just a repair kit that you can't use since the majority of tire failures happen on the freeway which pretty much destroys the tire. After finding out the ungodly amount of money Hyundai wanted for what should have been in the car (or at least I should have been told wasn't in the car) I found everything on Ebay for less than half. As for form fit and function, the car's not bad. It's quiet and comfortable. I have the sport and popular packages so it has the sunroof, fog lights, etc.. Throttle reponse is weak, though, and sometimes the transmission jerks on acceleration as if the car doesn't know what gear it should be in. The suspension is weak. Real weak. The Hancook tire are also garbage. When I encounter a rough patch on a curve I have to be ready because this thing will jump all over the place. Also the "slip angle" of the tires on turns is terrible. There's 2 more things to buy. The sound system is ok. The volume capability is less than half of what it should be. To have any decent volume just to listen to talk radio it needs to be just short of full blast. And no I don't have any hearing problems. Also the controls are designed to cause accidents. If you want to say lower the bass, park first because you'll be tapping the screen controls that are badly placed and too small for driving just to get to the small, badly placed buttons to make the adjustments. This will be corrected with a small amplified equalizer in the center console compartment-one with knobs so you don't have to take your eyes off the road. Yet something else to pay for that shouldn't be an issue. Anyway, for me this car is a swing and a miss. With the other quality cars out there that granted cost a bit more, Hyundai comes up lacking. Best warranty in the business? Maybe, but they need to make it clear that it will cost you dearly. Not inform the buyer there's no spare, because I've yet to meet anyone that asks if there is one? Major issue. How many husbands would like to find out while out with the family or from your wife because she's on the freeway with a shredded blow out? Change the station and you want to lower the blasting bass? Don't even think about it if your driving. Hit a bump on the freeway? Hang on brother or you could be modifying the body style real quick. Sorry Hyundai. As long as these types of things exist in your sales staff and vehicles, I'll be driving Honda's. Again.